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Phaneuf and Kessel big part of puzzle as Leafs enter free agency

The contractural implications of signing Dion Phaneuf and Phil Kessel will influence the moves Leafs GM Dave Nonis will make.


What the Maple Leafs do in the next few days is directly linked to Dion Phaneuf and Phil Kessel.

Don’t believe me?  Okay, tag along.

Some elementary mathematics (I never went higher) should illuminate exactly where the Leafs stand entering unrestricted free agency and what kind of room they have moving forward to take on another substantial contract.

In buying him out the Leafs saved themselves four more years of a $5.5 cap hit on Mikhail Grabovski, whose play fell through the floor after the 29-goal season that earned him his rich deal.

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Jonathan Bernier Takes The Questionnaire


Jonathan Bernier is nothing if not amenable.

The 24-year-old Bernier, acquired June 23 to challenge James Reimer for the Maple Leafs crease,  readily undertook elements of the famed Proust Questionnaire in a recent conversation with yours truly.

The questionnaire is about 120 years old and not hockey-specific so I modified it for the occasion. In deference to Mr. Proust, I bold-faced the hockey and sports parts.

Tell me about the first goal you gave up in junior hockey?

“My first goal against in junior was scored by my brother, Marc-Andre.  I was 16-years-old and […]

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Leafs add winning ways with Bolland.

The Leafs acquired Dave Bolland because he has done this - twice.

The Leafs acquired Dave Bolland because he has done this – twice.

At a cost of three draft choices, the Maple Leafs have added their second  Stanley Cup-winning player.

The first, of course, was Jonathan Bernier. The second is Dave Bolland.

Bolland scored the Stanley Cup winning goal for the Chicago Blackhawks a week ago and contributed eight goals and 16 points in the Hawks 2009-2010 Cup run. He scored seven goals and delivered as many assists in 35 games during the lockout-shortened regular season.

In addition to the two Cups, Bolland has […]

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Trade Fuels Competition


In the 165th day of his tenure, Maple Leafs GM Dave Nonis moved boldly to address the key position on his hockey club.

In acquiring 24-year-old Jonathan Bernier, Nonis moved a player with 30-goal potential in Matt Frattin, backup Ben Scrivens and a second-round draft choice for the player he hopes will be the club’s number goalie for the next decade.

Nonis, of course, wouldn’t and shouldn’t say that.

Bernier is, he said, destined to be locked in a battle with 25-year-old incumbent James Reimer for the number one job.

“Nothing is guaranteed to […]

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World Junior Hockey tournament is a chance for hockey to invite more kids into the game

Organizers hope the World Juniors in Toronto will help boost the game in multicultural Toronto.

Organizers hope the World Juniors in Toronto will help boost the game in multicultural Toronto.

The City of Nations is hosting the world in a tournament that features our national sport.

Clearly, the announcement that the Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens are hosting the 2015 and 2017 World Junior Hockey Championships carries a global message.

Details of the tournament were released Thursday at a press conference at Air Canada Centre.

Both cities will host a preliminary round every year. Toronto will host a medal round that spans December 2014 into January 2015. Montreal […]

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What Should The Leafs Do With Twenty-First Pick?


Who should the Maple Leafs pick at the 2013 entry draft?

Maybe no one.

Or as Mel Lastman, a member of a long line of colorful Toronto mayors used to say: noooobody.

It’s a reach. Indulge me.

First, a proviso. This piece is for entertainment purposes only. Read it in the fun spirit in which it is intended. I like to spitball as much as the next guy.

Okay, here goes.

If Leafs GM Dave Nonis wants to flip choices to dramatically improve his draft standing he will likely have to trade a core young player: […]

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Life beyond Game 7.

The more you win, the more you stand to lose. I think there’s a country song about it.

Let me tell you a story.

The captain was inconsolable.

“I don’t know if we could have played better,” he said. “We played pretty well, defensively. But we let them come back to tie it, then beat us, so I guess maybe we didn’t play our best.”

No, it wasn’t 27-year-old Leaf captain Dion Phaneuf.

It was the Red Wings’ 27-year-old captain Steve Yzerman.

Twenty years ago Nikolai Borschevsky scored in the seventh game as the Leafs upset […]

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Six games in, the series belongs to Carlyle.

Six games in, Randy Carlyle has established himself as the key figure in the Leafs

Randy Carlyle has established himself as the key figure in the Leafs’ fortunes.

Thirteen days into this glorious circus, we are but hours away from knowing how it ends.

What has become obvious is the identity of the ringmaster.

The series between the Leafs and Bruins has belonged to Leafs’ coach Randy Carlyle.

He has tinkered, line matched, played hunches and held grudges.

He has been the constant in a wildly-fluctuating two weeks.

It was Carlyle, remember, who guided the Leafs to a record of 26-17-5 and their first playoff in nine years. He reconfigured […]

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Phaneuf shoulders the burden of leadership

Dion Phaneuf played just over 21 minutes in Game 5.

Dion Phaneuf wasn’t available for conversation yesterday which fits in a funny kind of way.

There is always talk about him regardless.

One game after a marathon 31:39 in Game 4, Phaneuf played a more manageable 21:38 in Game 5.

All of that, it seemed, came in the last moments as the Bruins mounted a furious but ultimately futile charge as the Leafs held on 2-1.

Dion Phaneuf played just over 21 minutes in Game 5, a whopping 10 minutes less than in Game 5.

Game 4, you might have heard, ended famously after […]

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Kadri, Gardiner two 22-year-olds in contrast


A lack of success in the face-off circle hasn’t helped Nazem Kadri. He is 10-17 in the circle in the playoffs.

More and just as much.

That’s what the Maple Leafs need from a pair of 22-year-olds going into Friday’s Game 5 in Boston.

In the more category: center Nazem Kadri.

Kadri has just an assist, albeit a sweet one to Phil Kessel in Game 2,  to show for his work in the series.

He has had dangerous periods –he stood out in the Game 4 overtime – but Kadri was nearly a point […]

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