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Can Reimer Regain Hero Status?


On New Year’s Day it will be exactly a year since James Reimer slid between the pipes for good and changed the direction of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Since then, the Leafs have gone 42-30-12. They have outscored their opponents 247-224.

Everything started with Reimer.

But concussion or concussion-like-symptoms – take your pick – have limited Reimer to just 16 of the club’s 37 games. This year’s statistics look ghastly, in part because Reimer has only accrued a small window of work, in part because the numbers are bad.

Reimer’s .899 save percentage ranks him 36th […]

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Burke’s Faith Remains In Wilson


People talk about the weather all the time, Mark Twain said, but no one does anything about it.

People talk about fairness all the time. Brian Burke even did Monday afternoon when giving his reasons for extending Ron Wilson’s contract.

“It’s easy to say ‘fire the coach’ when the team isn’t winning, but when you haven’t given the coaching staff good enough players, I don’t think it’s fair,” he said.

Brian Burke thinks and speaks about fairness more than just about anyone I know but listening to someone go on about fairness is […]

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Not For The Faint Of Heart


“He’ll be heading down to the medical room for repairs.”

How many times have you heard broadcasters casually intone those words when a player’s face has been sliced open by a stick, punch or puck?

Cuts to the mugs are so frequent, the play-by-play guys sound like they are issuing directions: turn left at the player’s bench, right at the dressing room door and head to the medical room for repairs.

This is someone’s face trickling if not gushing blood. Baseball blisters are a matter of much more concern than a wound to […]

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Who Is The Best Bet To Be A Cornerstone Player?

If you are wondering whether the Leafs are indeed on the upswing, if the team’s play over the last 12 months is really just a bubble in a bathtub full of failure, ask yourself this question.
If you were starting a new franchise right now, and you could draft just one Maple Leaf, who would it be?

Go ahead. Indulge me. Who is the best bet to be a cornerstone player?

James Reimer. Good choice. He’s 23 and while the sample size of 45 games is perilously small, you can argue that a […]

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What, We Worry?

I am a glass not just half full but a glass spilling out over the top soaking the feet of the ludicrously attractive, scandalously-attired female barkeep who has just won the 649 and is an instant away from announcing free drinks for everyone kind of guy.

I just don’t see how the Leafs aren’t going to make the playoff this year. Not only that, their odds increase substantially when the league re-aligns next season.

And I have some numbers to back it up in Ulmerstandings IX.

Ulmerstandings IX

To better gauge the strengths of […]

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Gardiner Opening Eyes Around Hockey

Remember those colouring books where if you connected the lines a jumble of numbers became a flower pot or a circus elephant?

In the NHL, most of the numbers are obscured because of the speed of the game, a bounce off the boards, an unexpected move from a veteran or the zeal of a rookie who has been just called up.

There are two kinds of great players. Some see the flowerpot. Others just ride on a heightened instinct. They feel it.

When the Oilers ran a young Wayne Gretzky through a battery […]

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Phaneuf Has Been Burke’s Pillar

When Brian Burke traded for Dion Phaneuf on January 31, 2010, he risked very little.

What he gained was the pillar on which every other acquisition has been positioned.

The players who went to Calgary, Jamal Mayers, Matt Stajan, Ian White and Nik Hagman were going to go somewhere. Ex-Leafs litter the NHL. Nikolai Kulemin, Mikhail Grabovski and Luke Schenn are the only holdovers from when Burke signed on three years ago Tuesday.

Ask Burke about the key moments in his time with the Leafs and he will start with January 31, 2010.

Phaneuf’s career had stalled in Calgary. Always a […]

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Missing One Of The Good Ones

About a year ago I climbed into a car driven by my friend Steve Dryden.

We drove to Buffalo to see Jim Kelley.

The man who met us was gaunt. He moved slowly. His voice faltered. His medical options were exhausted. At 61, he was dying.

We went to a restaurant he liked in Buffalo, a city he loved. We laughed.  We all kind of knew this was it.

Jim Kelley was a legendary sportswriter who spent most of his working life as the hockey guy for the Buffalo News. He filed a story […]

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Ulmerstandings: A Tale Of Two Trains…

Imagine two trains heading in opposite directions. The one heading north is Phil Kessel. Washington’s Alex Ovechkin is going the other way. You don’t really get the pace of the rise and fall until you see them together.

Saturday’s 7-1 Leafs win over the Caps provided that opportunity. Kessel was probably best player on the ice and notched a goal and an assist. Ovechkin was shut out and finished minus three. Ovechkin will drag a career high four-game goalless slump into tonight’s game with Phoenix. In that stretch he has finished […]

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Ulmerstandings: Slow Start For Some Former Leafs

Let me put it to you this way: if you used to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs you’re probably having a lousy season.

While the Leafs are enjoying a 10-6-2 campaign, things aren’t so great for the alumni.

The three teams employing the most former Leafs -Anaheim, Calgary and Carolina at three each – are a combined 19-23-7. They are numbers 25, 26 and 28 in the league.

Put poor Tomas Kaberle at the bottom of the heap. In 15 games with Carolina, Kaberle has just three assists and sits at -5.

Matt […]

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