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Leafs need to consider JVR in the middle.

James van Riemsdyk is inexperienced in the face-off circle but his installation at centre between Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul would have a healthy impact on the Leafs.

James van Riemsdyk is inexperienced in the face-off circle but his installation at centre between Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul would help the Leafs.

Joffrey Lupul is midway through his projected six-week recovery from a broken arm. That means the question of who will man the Leafs top line will only grow in importance.

Those conversations need to centre on James van Riemsdyk, specifically moving him to the middle of the number-one unit upon Lupul’s return.

Aside from the excellent play of James Reimer the dominant conclusion of the early season is ...

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What the Reimer injury says about the Leafs

scrivens400feb12

It’s true. You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

 Even if it’s gone short-term.

 Which brings us back to James Reimer, out for at least a week with a knee sprained in the Leafs 5-2 win over Philadelphia.

 “Ah,” you say. “What if it’s longer?”

Even if Reimer’s injury keeps him out for months instead of weeks the Leafs will likely still sit on their hands.

 That would mean no deal for Roberto Luongo, no attempt to coax Tim Thomas out of his unfathomable retirement.

 Reimer’s knee provides a fine benchmark to examine how ...

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The ethical wasteland that is the facewash.

If you think this is okay, you can

If you think this is okay, you can’t really talk about facewashing protocol.

Okay, this is not an anti-fighting tirade.

This is a what happens when you allow fighting tirade.

This is about the code and by association the scrum that swept up Mikhail Grabovski and the Canadiens’ Max Pacioretty.

In case you haven’t heard, the league declined to suspend Grabovski for what Pacioretty said was a bite in a scrum Saturday night.

The facewash in hockey is as old as shin pads. Sometimes it’s penalized, sometimes it’s not but if you ticketed every ...

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Why Phil Kessel should burn his equipment.

Honestly, what did this guy do to deserve this?

 

Honestly, what did this guy do to deserve this?

Goalless but nonetheless leading the NHL with 42 shots on net and 1.6 million directed somewhere around there, Phil Kessel has become a bigger story than the team he plays for.

I can’t stop watching Phil Kessel. I commiserate when he shuffles back to the Leafs bench after skating his guts out with no result. I count the shifts until he comes back.

Phil Kessel is absolutely riveting because he is doing everything a hockey player can do to manage what should come ...

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Owuya’s work ethic makes him Marlie to watch.

Mark Owuya (above) is famous among the Marlies for his unrelenting work ethic.

Every member of the Toronto Marlies knows Mark Owuya will exhaust shooters even after a gruelling practice.

In the informal play that is the end of practice the Toronto Marlies resort to kids’ games.

Sometimes they cluster in a tight group. Then one player tosses a puck into the air. They squish tighter and wait to see whose helmeted head the puck will find.

Other times one player flicks a puck waist-high toward a teammate who tries to hit it with a baseball-style swing.

Usually they cluster around a net and rattle off ...

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Special brings viewer behind the curtain

Dave Nonis welcomes Morgan Rielly to the Maple Leafs on draft day. Behind the Draft chronicles the Leafs selection of Rielly at teh 2012 draft.

Behind The Draft lives behind the scenes.

The 30-minute special which airs Friday at 7 p.m. on Leafs TV is packed with candid never-before-seen moments from the 2012 draft in Pittsburgh that netted the Leafs heralded defenceman Morgan Rielly.

Current GM Dave Nonis chortles at the draft table while reading a tweet directed at Rielly by Leafs winger Joffrey Lupul: “Congrats Morgan Rielly on becoming a Maple Leaf. Look forward to playing w you. Now go get me some tape..#rookie.”

Behind the Draft chronicles  Morgan Rielly at the 2012 draft.

Director of amateur ...

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Fortune favours the brave: Why the Leafs shouldn’t be afraid to risk their first-rounder.

kessel600jan25

A sentence that begins with the words “If I ran the Toronto Maple Leafs…,” carries the same probability as “I just learned to split an atom with my Swiss Army Knife…”

That said…

IF I ran the Toronto Maple Leafs I wouldn’t be the least bit afraid of risking my first-round draft pick.

Hear me out.

Brian Burke moved a package that would (heavy emphasis on would) include Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton to land Phil Kessel in a trade with Boston. I get that. Would I do something similar?

Well, if I ran the ...

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Ten Thoughts A Week In

reimer400jan24

The Maple Leafs hit Saturday’s game against the Rangers with a 2-2-0 record and if there is any conclusions to be drawn from the first week of the regular season they are few and far between. That said…

1.    Yes, everyone plays the same schedule but if you are looking for clues on bi-polar play start with the schedule on your kitchen fridge. Thursday’s game against the Islanders was the Leafs fourth in six nights. The Islanders, by contrast, hadn’t played since Monday. Hockey players can be ready to play after eight ...

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A short thought on what was best for Nazem Kadri

Nazem Kadri reacts after scoring against the Buffalo Sabres.

Nazem Kadri reacts after scoring against the Buffalo Sabres.

I don’t get the Nazem Kadri thing.

Kadri has been the Leafs best player over the Leafs first few games.

He turned 22 three months ago. He is the Leafs youngest player, three months younger than elder statesman Jake Gardiner.

I don’t know where the Nazem Kadri narrative was stolen. Maybe the answer is in Don Cherry’s unflagging support for Kadri which was fuelled by Cherry’s intense disdain for Ron Wilson. Kind of a chicken and egg thing there.

It’s probably because the first four ...

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Leafs coach Randy Carlyle juggles Old School and New Age.

Randy Carlyle channels both Old School and New Are.

Scotty Bowman smiled a tight little smile when asked about Randy Carlyle.

“Firm,” he said. “He’s firm. He makes the players produce and he makes them responsible. Plus, he has them working in the right system.”

There are few more lasting endorsements than hockey’s all-time winningest coach finding you properly stern.

It should come as no surprise, I suppose. The Old School Randy Carlyle, the one who scoffs when reporters ask about a practice that lasts longer than an hour, the one whose actions suggest a disregard for soothing feelings, that guy is ...

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