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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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Big Test For Leafs Against Bruins

The Maple Leafs hit the ice at the MasterCard Centre Tuesday in preparation for Wednesday’s home game against the Boston Bruins. Head coach Ron Wilson said after practice that both David Steckel and Carl Gunnarsson remain day-to-day with their upper body injuries.

Mikhail Grabovski will continue to centre the fourth line to start the game with Philippe Dupuis and Jay Rosehill.

James Reimer continues to work his way towards a return to the lineup by the end of the week with Wilson hoping that Reimer could dress as the back up on Saturday in Boston.

Check out the video from Wilson, Reimer, Tyler ...

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Reimer Keeps Progressing

Leafs goalie James Reimer took part in his first practice since November 1st on Thursday as he continues to recover from concussion like symptoms. After practice in Dallas, head coach Ron Wilson said that Reimer is still 10 days away from returning to the lineup.

Jonas Gustavsson will get the start Friday in Dallas against the Stars. It will be his third start in the last four games with the Leafs winning both of the previous games by 7-1 scores.

While it was thought that Mikhail Grabovski might be able to play by the end of the ...

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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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Reimer Skates, Other Injuries Mount

There was some good news on the injury front Friday as James Reimer took to the ice for 15 minutes of drills with goaltending coach Francois Allaire and strength coach Anthony Belza.

Reimer moved side-to-side following the puck as Allaire and Belza passed the puck back-and-forth. He also faced shots from in close and the slot.

Reimer has made progress off the ice which led to him testing himself on the ice.

“He was on the ice today, he will do a little bit more tomorrow and then we will go from there,” ...

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Burke’s Generous Donation

Toronto Maple Leafs president and general manager Brian Burke has donated a horse to the Toronto Police Service Mounted unit.

Burke inquired earlier this year about donating a horse and when he was told that his generosity would be accepted, the name which he decided to call the horse was Moose.

“I figured there had to be story behind that name and, when he told me, I was blown away,” S/Insp. Bill Wardle, the Mounted and Police Dog Services unit commander told the Toronto Police Services.

Moose was the nickname that ...

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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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Plenty Of Injury Updates

It was a good news bad news day for the Maple Leafs on Wednesday.

First, the good news. Tim Connolly will make his return to the lineup against the Nashville Predators on Thursday.

Now the bad news. Mikhail Grabovski will be out for two weeks with a lower body injury and Clarke MacArthur will be out of the lineup against the Predators.

With one of his top centres out for an extended period of time, head coach Ron Wilson is hoping someone can flourish with the chance.

“It is an opportunity for someone else ...

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