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Surprise: Ten keys to the new Maple Leafs season.

Dion Phaneuf will start the season on left defence.

Dion Phaneuf will start the season on left defence.

The Toronto Maple Leafs open their season tonight in Montreal. By coincidence, I see 10 storylines.

The Marlies factor. Friday was the best day in the history of the Toronto Marlies.  Of the Leafs 23 players, eight (Colton Orr, Ben Scrivens, Leo Komarov,  Nazem Kadri, Mark Fraser,  Mike Kostka, Korbinian Holzer and Ben Scrivens) played significant roles for the Marlies this season or last under coach Dallas Eakins. “Dallas was a huge influence,” said Fraser. “The responsibility, the ice time, the compliments, […]

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Lack of exhibition games went against Rielly: Nonis

Leafs GM Dave Nonis said he remains on the hunt for a veteran goalie but only if the price is right.

Leafs GM Dave Nonis said he remains on the hunt for a veteran goalie but only if the price is right.

Leafs GM Dave Nonis spoke to the press, Friday after finalizing the roster. Here are some of his remarks.

On sending Morgan Rielly back to junior:  “Morgan played pretty well in a short camp but he wasn’t given any opportunity to play exhibition games. We need to get ready to play and it’s pretty tough to put an 18-year-old player in the lineup without seeing him play against NHL competition. […]

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Rielly Impressive During Scrimmage

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You watch Morgan Rielly and you see what’s there: the stride, the intuitive passing, the blocky body that should allow him to hang in and fight through the congestion near his own crease.

It took Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle to note what wasn’t there.

“I had the conversation with Morgan about getting him to play more of his game,” Carlyle was saying after a spirited scrimmage, Wednesday.

“I asked him what his strengths were. He said his number one thing was skating. I said ‘I don’t know if we really saw you […]

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What if James Reimer actually is the real deal?

jamer-reimer

Leaf fans, you don’t need another goalie.

Maybe not ever. Certainly not now.

The Maple Leafs have 74 days between Saturday’s debut in Montreal and the April 3 trade deadline to find out whether they need to replace James Reimer.

I’m pretty sure they don’t.

When healthy, James Reimer had a 24-10-6 record. That’s not bad.

What you have in Reimer is a goalie who excelled when he was healthy but sank while he was hurt. If James Reimer had never returned to the ice after being smacked in the crease by Brian Gionta […]

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Brian Burke and his brutal relationship with change

Brian Burke, shown in an earlier press conference, said Saturday he was never going to change his personality.

Brian Burke, shown in an earlier press conference, said he was never going to change his personality.

Brian Burke said goodbye the way he said hello.

He did not offer excuses and then pointed out that he wasn’t offering excuses. He would, however, like to work for a team that isn’t sold. Both times that happened, in Vancouver and in Toronto,  he lost his job soon after.

“The people that hired me hired Brian Burke,” he said. “Maybe the new guys don’t like that brand. Maybe they want someone who is a […]

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A day Leaf fans might want to keep open…

Joffrey Lupul is the only significant Leaf players whose contract is up this season.

July 5, 2013. That’s less than six months from now.

You can make a reasoned argument that anything that happens this season won’t influence the long term future of the franchise as much as what happens in early July.

Here’s why.

Everyone needs to add new players. The salary cap for 2013-2014 is $64.3 million.  Most teams will need deep cuts to comply.

Joffrey Lupul is the only significant Leaf players whose contract is up this season.

Each team has two potential buyouts. They must be used this summer or next.

Sour faces will abound […]

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Burke’s surprising dismissal is all about style.

Brian Burke has given way to Dave Nonis as the GM of the Maple Leafs.

Brian Burke has given way to Dave Nonis as the GM of the Maple Leafs.

 

About the only thing that came out of Tuesday’s press conference on Brian Burke’s firing was the consistent reference to style.

“It was more about leadership style and fit, without getting into specifics,” said MLSE Chief Operating Officer Tom Anselmi.

“Did the four years of missing the playoffs factor into the conversation with the shareholders? For sure it did. At the end of the day we were really looking to a different voice, a different leadership approach.”

Clearly, […]

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What The Leafs Lineup Could Look Like

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Here’s a look at the potential lines and defensive pairings. They were determined through a rigorous process that included looking for names in my Alpha Bits.

Until further notice, Tyler Bozak is the Leafs number one centre. Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul are the only combination coach Randy Carlyle has committed to. Bozak has been mentioned frequently in trade talks but with James van Riemsdyk scheduled to start the season at left wing on the second line the job is Bozak’s to lose.

MacArthur and Grabovski have longstanding chemistry and van Riemsdyk […]

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Carlyle promises more accountability, defence and fitness.

Coach Randy Carlyle said his 18 games behind the bench will be instrumental in his decision-making.

Coach Randy Carlyle said his 18 games behind the bench will be instrumental in his decision-making.

Get ready.

Leafs coach Randy Carlyle delivered that message before a packed house of quote-starved  journos outside the team’s dressing room, Monday.

This edition of the team will be fitter and more defensively astute. Player roles will be more defined.

“There’s not going to be a lot of changes to the system,” Carlyle said. “Our expectations were we would play to a higher level through better conditioning (and) have a better and more responsible defensive attitude. Accountability […]

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What Lies Ahead For Carlyle & The Leafs

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The NHL lockout is over.

Now comes the hard part.

The clock has been restarted with a new CBA and the Leafs, with familiar question marks in goal and in the middle of the number one line have been handed another start.

So what are their chances?

Absolutely no idea.

Anyone who says they know is lying. The new landscape ushered in with a fresh CBA has yet to be surveyed, let alone understood.  The roster could be reshaped overnight.

So let’s go over the first 10 things we know and the first 10 things we […]

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