To Absent Friends…

‘Let us lift our glasses And direct a toast That they may abide in our hearts Forever’

- The toast ‘To Absent Friends’

They are gone and yet never gone. Their legacy is a glimmer in the tears of the people who love them still.

The four men enshrined Tuesday in the Hockey Hal of Fame have earned their sport’s version of immortality. Likenesses of Doug Gilmour, Joe Nieuwendyk, Ed Belfour and Mark Howe will be hung in the Great Hall. There you will find evidence of their deeds until the shinny glass ...

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Beating The Odds

Ed Belfour. Never drafted.

Doug Gilmour. Drafted in the seventh round.

Is it still possible for a player to slip through the network of scouts and bird dogs, internet assessments and Central Scouting reports to beat the odds and land a spot in the NHL?

A glance at the Leafs roster says yes. So do some of the latest inductees for the Hockey Hall of Fame.

With James Reimer injured, the top three remaining goaltenders in the Leafs system weren’t selected in the NHL draft: Ben Scrivens, Jonas Gustavsson and Mark Owuya.

Tyler Bozak, holding ...

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Hall Of Fame Game Next

After their win over the St. Louis Blues, there was no rest for the Maple Leafs who were back at MasterCard Centre for practice Friday ahead of Saturday’s Hockey Hall Of Fame Game against Ottawa.

“I know for the fans it’s the Battle Of Ontario but I think both teams go into not thinking of it as those terms,” said head coach Ron Wilson.

The two teams have split the first two meetings with each winning on home ice.

“It’s a division game which is always big,” Wilson noted. “They’re within shouting distance ...

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All That Matters Is Winning

A dozen years ago I spoke to Craig Hartsburg, the coach of what was then called the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.

The Ducks had gained a road win here in an exhibition of trap hockey that made your eyes bleed. I commended him on the win but said “you know, that game was unwatchable.”

Hartsburg presented his case beautifully.

“I don’t care.”

Would you?

What would you say if I told you I could wave a wand and guarantee the Leafs would qualify for the post season? The only caveat: they had to play a ...

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Leafs Huddle Before Practice

After a long discussion behind closed doors, the Maple Leafs hit the ice 25 minutes after the schedulued Noon practice time.

“It was a good talk,” said John-Michael Liles who wouldn’t call it a team meeting.

When the Leafs did start practice, they worked on several puck possession drills, taking the puck forcefully to the net before finishing off with dashes between the bluelines.

“Guys were moving their feet, good battles and it was a solid practice and I thought everyone worked hard,” Liles said.

There was one line change as Joey Crabb was ...

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Gustavsson Needs More Time

Took a straw poll among ten or so media types at the MasterCard Centre on who would start in goal for the Leafs Thursday in St. Louis.

“Gustavsson?”

Mine was the only hand.

I am not surprised by the meagre confidence people both in and outside that cozy press box have in Jonas Gustavsson. Now in his third season with the Leafs, he hasn’t done a whole lot to justify faith. Gustavsson’s career goals against is a shoddy 3.10. His save percentage is equally crummy at .896.

He has won only 26 of the ...

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