Eakins eager to revisit the heightened competition of playoffs.

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The kind of playoff moment a player will remember. Marlies coach Dallas Eakins, then a defenceman with the New York Rangers sends Eric Lindros into the Rangers' bench in a 1997 playoff game.

Dallas Eakins remembers the moment if he can’t quite place the date.

It was 1992 and the Marlies coach was in the second year a 15-year playing career that would see him manage 120 games in the NHL. He would touch down in 10 different American and International League towns: Baltimore, Binghamton, Chicago, Cincinnati, New Haven, Moncton, Winnipeg, ...

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Jake Gardiner says he is up for spring hockey

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Jake Gardiner isn’t quite done yet.

The 21-year-old defenceman has settled in with the Toronto Marlies as they finish their regular season with games in Abbotsford B.C. against the Heat, Friday and Sunday.

Leaf rookies Gardiner, Carter Ashton and Matt Frattin will contest their first pro playoff next week.

Mapleleafs.com writer Mike Ulmer caught up with Gardiner to get his view on his season with the Leafs and his upcoming playoff with the Marlies.

Mike Ulmer: You led all rookie defencemen with 30 points and were third in ice time for first-year defencemen. Now ...

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Leafs draft fifth…who that may be…

Ryan Murray might be the wild card of the 2012 NHL entry draft

We now know the Leafs are scheduled to draft fifth in the June entry draft.

The next question is who will be available.

The Oilers are long shots to trade their first overall. There isn’t the depth of quality in the draft that would prompt the Oilers to trade down.  Sarnia Sting winger Nail Yakupov (42 games, 31 goals, 38 assists, 69 points, 30 PIMs) is the stand-alone choice in the draft.

To get the skinny on this year’s player ...

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What you don’t know about life on this side of the curtain.

What does the organization owe this man?

To The Citizens of Leafs Nation:

Your ardour has sometimes moved me past words.  You help pay my mortgage. When you cheer so earnestly as your team beats Tampa in the last home date of the season there isn’t much good in human nature I would not ascribe to you.

I love the fact that the parking lot attendant and the guys in the dressing room for Sunday night hockey have pithy jabs and exasperated complaints at the ready.

Sometimes I wonder if you are a ...

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It all goes back to goaltending

A few moments after this picture was taken James Reimer's season would be knocked into freefall.

The Toronto Maple Leafs aren’t in the playoffs because their goaltending wasn’t very good.

It isn’t a whole lot more complicated than that.

Now, there are contributing factors by the boatload but what you need to know is that when the club went into the abyss in February they surrendered the opening two goals in five straight loses. In the sixth they blew a 3-1 lead and fell 5-4 to Chicago, February 29.

The players who ambled ...

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Your complete calendar to the Leafs off-season

Remember the happy times…

In horseracing they call it going dark but of course, dark speaks to so much more than not playing when discussing the layoff facing the Maple Leafs.

The kick-off to the Leafs off-season, if there can be such a thing, comes Monday when players clean out their lockers and take one final sift through the rubble of the campaign.

The gap between the clear-out and the June 22 entry draft is 69 sleeps. This is when most of the healing happens. A week after the playoff puck-drop only ...

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How to fix the Maple Leafs in five not-so-easy steps.

You'd best get used to seeing Ben Scrivens in goal. Finding a netminder looms as the Leafs biggest off-season challenge.

The distance between the Maple Leafs and genuine contenders is clear enough.

They are in the bottom half dozen or so in the league. I get that.

What is harder to articulate is a plan to make things better.

Not to worry.  Nobody asked but here is a recipe to get the team into the playoffs next year and set them up, in the words of the estimable Brian Burke, to bloody someone’s ...

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Why Tank Nation is a Fool’s Paradise

2008 NHL Entry Draft

As always, the smartest guy in the room.

Draft Schmaft – An essay.

I was about five feet away from Cliff Fletcher when he broached an idea so radical it damn near sucked the oxygen out of Maple Leaf Gardens.

“Draft Schmaft.”

It was 1996. The notion that tying a team’s fortunes exclusively to the entry draft might be a questionable strategy propelled Cliff’s musing into the realm of legend. That, more than any argument I can muster, speaks to the orthodoxy that positions the draft as vital to individual teams and the ...

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Paul Henderson: On Living, Dying And Wearing The Maple Leaf

Paul Henderson found the purpose of his life after reaching the Summit.

“Do not go gentle into that good night,” wrote the poet Dylan Thomas. “Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

Sitting in a medical centre with an intravenous line in his arm and cellphone in hand, Paul Henderson is doing just that.

With pockets of cancer all over his body and infecting his blood, the hero of the 1972 Summit Series sees his life with a new immediacy and clarity. Over the next month or so he will begin ...

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I know this is my fault even if I don’t quite know why

Cody Franson gives winning goalie James Reimer a tap after the Leafs defeated Edmonton 6-3 on Feb. 6. This picture was taken mere moments before I did something that sent the entire season down the toilet.

You’ve got to see this:

http://www.sportsclubstats.com/NHL/Eastern/Northeast/Toronto_ChanceWillMakePlayoffs.html

According to this graph, when the Leafs defeated the Edmonton Oilers 6-3 on Feb. 6, they had a 90.05 per cent likelihood of making the post season.

Today, they stand on the verge of elimination. They haven’t won a home game since they beat Edmonton.

This comes down to a very simple ...

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Foes consider Ross a ‘Brother Tucker’ or something very close.

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Bradley Ross positions himself in front of the net in an exhibition game against Chicago.

It’s the story Mike Johnston reaches for when you ask the Portland Winterhawks’ coach about the Leafs newest signee Brad Ross.

“Two years ago there was a pre-season tournament in Everett (Was.) and they needed another team to round it out,” Johnston said. “The Soo Greyhounds came out.

“We were down 5-1 in our game against them and that night Brad Ross took 40 minutes in penalties. He fought guys. He ran over guys. He was an ...

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Goo-Goo-Kachoo Mrs Robinson and other hockey truths.

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Korbinian Holzer has twice represented Germany at the World Championship but he is anxious for his first North American playoff.

“Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you.”

Forty-two years after Paul Simon penned those rueful lyrics, the words to Mrs. Robinson have a new spin. With the big club’s playoff hopes crippled by a disastrous February and early March, Leafs Nation is turning its gaze to the AHL Marlies.

The Marlies have won 31 of 62 games and taken points in seven shootout or overtime ...

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What to do when all seems lost

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Barring a magnificent, barely imaginable miracle, the Maple Leafs will not qualify for the post-season.

They have won just two of their last 16 games in regulation.  It’s tough to gain ground when you bank only six of a possible 32 points.

After a heady early and mid-season, the team and the millions of people who follow it have returned to walk the same barren patch of ground for the seventh straight year.

The bitter taste of seasons lost is back: one part disappointment, one part resignation, one part bile. Look not to ...

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Good news, bad news: Marlies sure bet to make playoffs…

Joe Colborne could go a long way in erasing the memory of his up and down regular season.

 

Good news, bad news, good news.

Brian Burke has long asserted that his team needed to stride manfully into the playoffs and bloody some noses when it got there.

The Toronto Marlies are playoff bound. Despite a month-long pattern of just treading water the Marlies lead the AHL’s North Division with a 34-21-4 record.

They may be the only one of Burke’s teams to bloody an opponent. Perhaps you’ve heard:  the Leafs have won just one ...

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Grabovski signing great for team, bad for stick-makers

You figure to be seeing a whole lot more of this.

What you need to know about Mikhail Grabovski can be summed up in the following story.

When he was a kid, maybe eight years old, Grabovski was gifted with a hockey stick. It was a new Titan. The white paint was soon worn off from use.

Hockey sticks didn’t fall from the skies for a kid from a working class family in Belarus. His parents waited until Christmas to give him the stick.

“I had it for a year and I was ...

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Why the Toronto Maple Leafs are so much fun.

The new guy...Randy Carlyle.

The new guy…Randy Carlyle.

Brian Burke and Randy Carlyle met the media Saturday and it was delicious.

Carlyle hit the sweet spot when he observed coaching the Leafs was a wonderful opportunity and then used a tone suitable for talk of palliative care to describe the conversation he had with his family about taking the job.

You could almost hear a trembling voice from the corner of the family’s big Amish-style kitchen table say ‘well, Dad, if you feel you must.’

Gloriously indiscreet, Burke said Marlies coach Dallas Eakins was strongly considered for ...

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Wilson out, Carlyle in as Leafs shuffle deck

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Coaching the Maple Leafs was in Ron WIlson's blood. He will work again.

There is a rule when a coach gets fired.

Write about the new guy. The guy heading out the door is known all too well.

The new guy is Randy Carlyle, in case you haven’t heard.

Indulge me for writing about the old guy.

Ron Wilson will work again. It’s in his blood.

He’s a father, a brother, a grandfather and a husband and he is Larry Wilson’s son and Johnny Wilson’s nephew.

Ron Wilson is  a hockey guy the way a Kennedy ...

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Little movement draws big attention at trade deadline

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James Reimer and the rest of the Leafs have the rest of the year to right the season

By the time they reach Grade 2 children begin to develop a mature outlook toward money, community and private property.

Their friendships deepen. They grasp the difference between writing for marks in school and for pleasure. Seven-year-olds understand the distinction between asking a question and reciting a fact. By Grade 2 children are forming lifelong patterns and points of view.

Not one of these children, not one the world over, was alive on a ...

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Let’s Lose The Whole American/Canadian Angle

When LA winger Dustin Brown’s name hit the rumour mill, all eyes were raised toward Brian Burke.

Brown seems perfect. He hits, he scores, he plays bigger than his six-feet.

Most important, he’s from Ithaca, New York.

He’s American.

Buffalo-born and bred Jim Kelley remains a towering figure in hockey journalism, a business that has yet to produce a successor for a reporter who filed a story on his last day on earth, Nov 30, 2010.

He loved Canadians and this country but sometimes shuddered at our provincialism.

“Hockey is Canada’s gift to the ...

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Gardiner hits the post, won’t hit the road.

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Keep an eye on this guy. He's staying.

Let’s say you heard a 21-year-old puck-moving defenceman was on the trading block.

Drop dead talent. Tied for the team lead in plus minus. Fourth on the team in ice time with over 21 minutes per contest and trending up.  Points leader among NHL rookie defencemen.

What would you give up to land such a player? Congratulations, Leaf fans. You are the only team that doesn’t have to covet Jake Gardiner.

Gardiner is on track to be the best Leaf defenceman since Borje Salming left ...

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