Hot Kessel riding a wave of cool

Phil Kessel

Remember the player draft for the 2011 All-Star game in Raleigh?

Remember how Phil Kessel was picked last?

Two things about that:

First, do you remember how good he was about it, how he donated the $20,000 consolation prize to a Cancer charity and laughed off what was clearly an excruciating moment where he was last pick among 42 all-stars.

Anyone, anyone who was the last pick on the playground, not an uncommon bitter memory among sportswriters by the way, would have shuddered. I would have considered therapy.

“Something good (comes out of it),” Kessel ...

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Leafs hit road trip on a roll with Bozak key

Playing between Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak has been red hot.

 

Playing between Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak has been red hot.

He was a skinny, five-foot-nine 18-year-old on the bubble for the 2004-2005 version of the Junior A Victoria Salsa. You should know in the intervening years the Salsa refashioned themselves as the Victoria Grizzlies.

That fits. Tyler Bozak knows something about the elements that go into an overhaul.

“The NHL seemed the furthest away my first year in Victoria,” he said in a recent interview. “I went for a tryout and I was an undersized guy. I wasn’t ...

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Rubber meets road as Leafs enter key phase

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The wind at your back.

The wind in your face.

Those are the two scenarios the Maple Leafs find themselves contemplating as they head to what may be their most crucial stretch of hockey.

The seventh-place Leafs, owners of 47 Eastern Conference points, visit the 45-point Carolina Hurricanes, Thursday. The next night’s opposition: the Washington Capitals, own 46 points.

The math says by Saturday morning the Leafs, sitting somewhere in the post season top eight all season long and nine gaudy points above the eighth spot on Halloween, might be perched on the porch ...

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Gleason adds muscle to Leafs blue line

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Needing more heft and a little more menace the Maple Leafs added Michigan native Tim Gleason in a New Year’s deal with the Carolina Hurricanes that saw John-Michael Liles and prospect Dennis Robertson head to Carolina.

Assuming the Leafs didn’t contribute a little to Liles’ salary, the trade is basically a saw salary wise. The six-foot- 215-pound Gleason has two more years after this one at a cap hit of $4 million per. Liles, meanwhile, will carry a cap hit of $3.875 million over the next two and a half seasons.

What ...

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Former Players Back On The Ice

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They used to call Gordie Howe Power.

It was a nickname built on his ferocious strength. Sometimes Gordie would grasp a door knob while someone on the other side was about to pull the door open.

No matter how hard the person on the other side would pull, no force on earth could overcome Gordie Howe.

Except, of course, for time.

When one of the greatest players in hockey, one of the greatest men in hockey, stepped onto a red carpet to drop a puck Tuesday he had to be steadied and directed a ...

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One year later, the fun bus rolls on.

Ulmer Rides Bus

They went through snow.

They went through wind.

They waited better than a year.

Finally, on New Year’s Eve in picturesque Ann Arbor, Michigan, Will and Lisa’s travelling road show hit their destination.

When the lockout scuttled last year’s Winter Classic, few fans were more disappointed than Will Milne.

Will, 24, a Leaf fan and an alumni from Queen’s, had managed to acquire a block of 40 tickets to the game. At the time MLSE employee Lisa McLaughlin, was working in ticketing. She made the deal possible. The two are friends and the idea of ...

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Phaneuf deal also says something about rest of blue line.

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Pieces.

That’s the new buzzword when assembling a team, be it in basketball, soccer or, in this case, the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The word had a particular resonance, Wednesday, New Year’s Eve, as the Maple Leafs announced seven more years for Dion Phaneuf at about $7 million per.

“You need some players to play around the core,” Leafs GM Dave Nonis was saying at the press conference. “We think we are adding pieces that will help us win.”

Never mind that tantalizing idea for a moment. There is no question the Leafs, with Joffrey ...

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Standing on guard: Maple Leaf jerseys decorate walls at armoury.

A framed Leafs jersey to be hung at the Moss Street Armoury was presented to Master Corporal Adam Winnicki, Corporal Tom Jun and Corporal Daniil Saiko  by Jeff Budway of MLSE.

A framed Leafs jersey to be hung at Toronto’s Moss Street Armoury was presented to Master Corporal Adam Winnicki, Corporal Tom Jun and Corporal Daniil Saiko by Jeff Budway of MLSE.

When Canadian Forces master corporal Adam Winnicki embarked on a different kind of peacemaking mission, he and his colleague, Corporal Tom Jun, turned to MLSE for help.

Thanks to their initiative there will be three significant improvements to a gathering place for soldiers at Toronto’s Moss Park Armoury.

Master Corporal Winnicki is in charge of the junior ranks mess, a licensed ...

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Aidan Scott Is A Star

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Aidan is the seven-year-old Toronto boy whose spontaneous enthusiasm landed him on national television during the Toronto Maple Leafs annual visit to SickKids Hospital.

Check out the video from the visit: http://www.citynews.ca/2013/11/06/leafs-visit-sickkids-hospital-for-hockey-day/

“I’m telling you, the kid had charisma,” said forward Nazem Kadri. “He came right up to me and asked me to play air hockey with him. Wasn’t shy at all.”

Shy is not Aidan’s style.

“I’d like to say he gets his personality from his parents but Aidan is just such a special person,” said his mother Louise Donnelly. “That excitement and ...

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Back to the future: van Riemsdyk shifted to centre.

Is this man the answer to the Leafs long-standing search for a number once centre?

It was just an idea. A notion even.

Is this man the answer to the Leafs long-standing search for a number one centre?

Back in the summer of 2012, Randy Carlyle was wrapping up an 18-game stint as the Leafs coach when he wondered out loud about the possibility of moving James van Riemsdyk from left wing to centre.

“I made that comment over the summer months and it was big news,” Carlyle was saying.

“This was my first test on maybe I should shut my mouth.”

What Carlyle didn’t recognize was that since ...

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