Sunday, December 20, 2009

See y'all next year!

Faithful remnant! I'm off to the Big D for the holidays (I'll be a the Stars game tomorrow if you happen to watch it, you may wanna go back and reread the guide to watching Stars games post)

See you all in the new year, and we'll chill out and talk about playoffs (!!1!) and epic Monster saves and like, all that stuff, cuz, like, let's totally stay friends once camp is over!

Merry Christmas, Leafs faithful!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Small Kessel Thought

Faithful remnant! We know we've been off the reservation for a bit now, and we have resumed our blogging mantle. Epic win posts to come! However, for now, we give you one small Phil Kessel thought:

Kessel got benched in the playoffs when he was playing in Boston. This was apparently because he was channeling the god of suck. But then he went on a Philtear and played like gangbusters. This speaks to his character: failure, learning, killin' it.

So, Leaf faithful. Tonight is a big night. After being on the business end of an open can the other night, the Leafs roll back into Beanieville. Watch #81 tonight. Will his pride put an extra spring in his step tonight? Or will he pinch out another stinker. Tonight we get to learn a bit about the character of Phil Kessel. Something we need to get a handle on for moving forward.

We predict a solid game and a sick goal. 4-2 Leafers.


Oh, and it's good to be back. Look for the TOV Christmas wishlist coming up.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mmmbop & Tinfoil

Faithful remnant! Enjoying all the legroom on the bandwagon? We sure are. Nothing reveals "who's a true fan" like total and utter destruction. So take a good look to see who's still wearing a jersey, take mental note of his cherubic visage and put him on the list. When the Leafwagon starts to fill that list will come in handy.

So Toastkala's new robogroin hasn't fared well and he's on the shelf for the next little bit. We here at TOV aren't too worried, as this'll give The Monster the ball to run with and we get to see his mental and intestinal fortitude. Hope our Dmen can keep the other guys from crashing the crease.

Also John "fbomb" Mitchell is out for...what was it...6 weeks? Brutal. Why can't Blake get hurt? Anyway, this is great time for our favorite bespectacled hockey-god-in-waiting. Ladies and Gentlemen: Christian Hanson! This lil leafbaby has been tearing up the AHL with 18 points at around the quartermark of the season. Best on the team and he's all heart and drive. Plus he's a center. We are personally looking forward to seeing Stajan outplayed by a babyleaf anxious to take his spot.

But is this the start of a full fledged youth movement? Will Blake and Stemp and Stajan et al be demoted or traded? Well, yes and no.

Here is BB's conundrum.
First, he's looking for a trade first. Chicago is trying to keep their head above the sure-to-shrink cap next season, so there is blood in the water there. But Brent Sopel? Really? That would hopefully be a first or a Byfuglien coming back our way too for eating Chicago's garbage. (I know it's pronounced bufflin but I always read fugly + alien= fuglian!)

So if this shake-up trade happens, look for the babies to stay on the cabbage patch in Rioch because it'll mean Burke still thinks the playoffs (!!!!1!) are ascertainable this season.

But if a trade doesn't happen and dudes start being demoted and Bozak, Tlusty, Hanson, Stalberg, Hamilton and Foster come up? Well my friends, the season outlook from the GM's office has gone from "I still believe in this group of guys" to, well, see Burke's quote from today: "If we are going to struggle, we are going to struggle with kids in the lineup."

So one thing is sure: change is coming. But whether it is a trade to keep the hope-fires burnin' or a baby boom remains to be seen.

So for those of you playing at home, here is the helpful "what is BB thinking" chart:

Trade = we are pushing for a playoff birth and the youth will marinate on the farm

Demotions = the future is now! Be fruitful and multiply, leaf babies!

Our hope? Well, we agree with "The Bobby Ryan" principle. We prefer the rotten fruit to fall off the tree at the end of the year and for the kids to figure it out on their own, out of the toxic atmosphere of the big club. We don't like the way the team is now as a home for the kids. Nests before eggs.

But you know whatever change does happen, the bandwagon will again start filling up. Hope you got your list made.

Monday, November 16, 2009

So is the season a write off?

My TOV faithful! Like a cold drink of water on a hot day, we are here to bring relief! We here at TOV apologize for our lengthy absence, but things outside of Leaf-fandom have required our attention. The biggest piece of exciting news is that our Pretty Blond Texas Correspondent is now The Future Mrs. TOV! That's right. We put our big-boy pants on and took the plunge. So unfortunately the one thing to suffer through this upheaval has been this fountain of Leaf-related nourishment.

But no more! We are back in the bloggin saddle, rockin the new Dead Weather album and ready to talk things Leafs. So, if you'll excuse me, I'll go do a brief recap of some of the Leaf games we've missed. (Brb. k? tytl. I no! omg let's totally stay in touch after camp is over!)

Hmmm lets see...Kessel is awesome. Gustavsson..also awesome. Let's check out that win colu......*whimper*

So we've got Kessley Snipes (don't take credit for the name), The Monster and a future d-man stud in White and we are 3-freaking 10 and 5? What gives? Is the season tanked? Can we make the playoffs (!!!!!1!)? What about our future draft positions for this year? Is Boston flyin high?

Well, we here at TOV believe that there ought to be a few things we need to remember. The first is, our division (NE) is still wide open. Sure, Buffaslugs are doing great, but everyone else is out of playoff (!!!!1!) contention. Few wins together and we look good in the division.

Secondly, 75%. Yup, the amount of season left. Chill, my babies. We are totally under-performing. We can officially panic at 3-16-5.

Thirdly, and this is admittedly a longer term condolence, but Burke inherited a toxic team. A culture of losing (which I firmly believe flows through the veins of Stajan) mixed with some bad contracts and bad attitudes (both exhibited by Blake.) Burke said it himself. He can trade 2 firsts for Kessel because of getting Bozak, Hanson, Stalberg and Gustavsson. You may wish that this time next year and the year after that we had two mid-range 18-yr olds instead of Kessel, but we love that kid. That shot is amazing. He's got like no back-swing. Nice quick release.
So we got a good core of guys paying their dues in the AHL and workin on their game in the NHL. So let's not freak out about the future. (Plus, we'll move 2 of Stajan, Poni, Hagman and Kaberle at the deadline.) Plus we have bucketloads of caproom next summer. THIS summer is going to be Burkies time to put his stamp on the team.

So what's to be done? What is that burning thing we need Wilson to do this season? What is the best thing we can do to a)hold our heads high on a low potential-playoff-position team? and b)get our babies ready for their cotillion dance in the future?

Easy. Stamp out the old culture, every last hair and feather. Reward hard work. Punish suckitude.

So, in our view it is imperative for the health of the real leafs that are going to stay beyond this season that we bench/demote perennial underperformers and bring up Marlies who are a-rockin it in the effort + results department.

Blake down/benched; Tlusty or Stalberg up
Stajan down/benched/traded; Bozak up
Wallin or Mayers down/benched/traded; Hanson up.

This allows us to play with a bit of pride and to give time for the kiddies.

The counterargument is: keep the kids down to learn/dominate in the AHL. Don't break up a good thing in the Marlies. Grit our teeth through this season, dump the chaff at the end of the season and let the wheat grow when we have a real Burke team next year.

So, the question is, will Burke be patient til next year, or will he finish dumping the toxic assets before the season is over.

One thing is for sure: we are refocusing on the whole "this is a rebuild" and less on the "preseason!!!! Playoffs!!!"

Wave goodbye to the bandwagoners, open and pass around another can of tuna and let's settle down in the bunker for another winter. Besides, loyalty through good times and bad, richer and poorer is something I need to get under my belt here soon enough :)

Til (much sooner) next time, keep the faith, remnant!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A TOV guide to the game in Texas

Howdy faithful remnant! Here at TOV we have an exciting announcement. Well, it is probably not so exciting for you, but it is quite exciting for us. Our darling leafbuds just got their first dewy win of the season. By our estimation, we here at TOV feel that this next game is a pretty critical game. Will the Leafs continue their superior play and gain momentum as the season goes on--hopefully even reaching a 7-7-1 record? Or will we sink back to old habits and pinch out another stinker?

Well, this next game in Texas will tell us! And, being the passionate fans that we are, we here at TOV are waking up early tomorrow, leaving on a jet plane and headin' on down to the Big D y'all! That's right, TOV will be at the game!

So we thought that it would be fun to post a lil "watch for this at the game tomorrow" blog.

1. During the National Anthem, when they sing the American one and when they get to the line "whose broad stripes and bright..." the whole crowd at the AA Arena will scream STARS! at the top of their lungs, then turn and high five and chest bump and then continue the solemn tradition of anthem watching. Chances are I will too, because, we here at TOV seize every opportunity to be loud and boisterous and chest bump. Even if it is for the other team. But we don't mind a little rival inclusionary practices.

However, we need to yell something out during the Canadian National anthem. Like "with glowing hearts, we see thee rise, the true North Strong OUR LEAFS!" or "we stand on guard for Leafs" or "true patriot love in all thy CLARK'S command." Let's band together and getterdone.

2. The Banger. Every game right behind the net on the left side (so when you are watching the game, when the flow of play is heading to the left) there is a guy, who is ALWAYS there (at least when I watch/have been at games). He is usually wearing a tan jacket, is about 24 years old, 150lbs soaking wet and he throws himself against the boards on every save, every shot and every big hit. And the boards are right by a mike so you at home will be able to hear BANG BANG BANG every time something happens in that end. On this video here you can distinctly hear the bangs and then see the blurry tan boy himself stand up and start a-bangin. So watch for that; it's fun!

Oh, our pretty blond Texas corespondent is informing us that his name is Nick, he's had season tix forever, that she is his sisters friend on facebook and that Nick "is a lil weird that way." So hopefully Nick has nothing to bang about tomorrow, except the quiet taps of losing sadness.

3. ME! Yes, you've asked for it and we deliver. Tomorrow you will be able to see me, Mr. TOV himself cheering on his boys at the game. On the same side of the arena as Nick, the Pretty Blond Texas Correspondent's (PBTC) family has season tickets. From the goal if you go about 12 row straight back and then about 6 or 7 seats towards the camera you will see a handsome fellow (artists rendering) wearing a Leafs jersey (Schenn!) in a sea of black, green and white--just a popcorn-bag's throw from Nick. I will either be standing, holding my hands aloft as if I am drinking in the sweet glory of a win, or I'll be eating pizza. With Dr. Pepper. (You know that they make the stuff there!?)

So faithful remnant, while you watch the game, look for me and our fevered fan Nick. It'll be like you came to Texas with me! Because Barilkosphere, you see....I love you.

Ok. No more foolish emotion. Gird up your loins with stoic resolve! A second win awaits! And by the modern marvel of the "aeroplane" I will be there to represent our lil bloggy community. Airport cowboy hats in snow globes for all!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Ok, settle down people

We understand the panic; we really do. But come'on faithful remnant, do you really think that a defense of Kaberle, Komi, Schenn, White and Beauch are currently playing to their potential? That this is all they can give? That they have peaked as defensive players? No, you don't believe that. You believe that they will gel as a unit and that shots will be blocked and opposing players will be squished at appropriate times and the GAA will go down.

Do we need goals? Sure. We need players to pot some. It'd be nice to see Stempniak score, but right now he's a 30-year-old deck chair (all wood, no finish). Grabs seems to have missed the memo that he has line-mates and people aren't driving to the net to get some gross goals. But when you are 0-2 at the end of every period, you try to be a hero every time you cross the blueline. Not cool. We seriously need to win some 2-1 1-0, 3-2 games.

And, freaked-out-nation, we will. We'll be fine. We'll get a 4-5 game win streak in here in a few weeks. You watch. The Rags will get a losing streak of a few games in the next little bit and all of a sudden the Leafs are in the middle of the pack. This is a good thing for the lil smurfs to go through right now--it'll put them in their place. "Wilson is the boss, Burke controls my fate and I am but a humble player only worrying about my life 30 seconds at a time." What will this adversity also do? It'll find us a Captain and reveal to us those who don't buy into the team mentality. I say we bench the detractors or trade em or waive em and let Bozak, Stalberg and Poni be the second line with Grabs, Hags and Lemon (to be replaced by Kessel) on the top.

We're all so worried about the draft pick. It astounds us here at TOV that we are that worried about this intangible thing that we have no idea where it will fall (and chances are it'll be between a 12-17th overall pick) but we aren't excited about other intangibles like "hey, Stemp can move the puck, but can't finish. Wonder if he will work magic with Kessel?" or "wow. Jonas is back from injury and is continuing his .930ish save %. Wicked." How can we focus on the intangibles of a year away and forget the intangibles of two weeks from now?

No friends, Ron Wilson's "reset" is under way and I am sure that this Saturday we will see a spirited game. Especially since the Rags gave us an epic beat down last week.

So let June worry about June. I guarantee you Peter Chiarelli is not even thinking about the draft picks. In fact, he is probably still pissed that that was the best deal out for him.

So cheer on your boys, remember that we have years of Schenn, Kadri, Bozak, Kessel, Stalberg and others ahead of us. Years! In the grand scheme of things this is the perfect time for them to learn about brutal losing streaks and getting out of them. I wouldn't want them to learn about this in 2 years when we are in some race for a better playoff spot during our perfect open-window-time and we decide then that it is a good time to drop 6 games. It's kinda like the stock market--there is money to be made in both a bull and bear market. (But you gotta understand which one you are in.) But a lack of long-term vision will kill ya.

Hit up the Licbo, grab some expensive, snobby-Bay-Street-beer (we are, after all, the Lower Bowl Brokers) get a cigar or two and some Scotch for the Satellite Hot Stove session and laugh at the days to come. We are where we are supposed to be--learning under fire.

Keep the faith, and for the love of Truth and Goodness, stop listening to the mittenstringers who are saying that this opening 20 game stretch is our Waterloo.


-Hockey Central at noon is reporting that there is a chance Mike VR could be shut down for the season due to that wonky knee. Brutal. Guess we wont be trading a d-man any time soon.

-Also reporting that Burkie came into the room at practice. No word on what was said, but we can surely speculate.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The worst part about losing

The worst part of losing is not that our hearts are filled with sorrow, or seeing Ron Wilson look like someone shot his dog in the postgame presser, or watching a goalie we traded a first rounder for totally bomb as a professional NHL player.

No, the worst thing that happens to Leaf fans when we are losing is having to read Howard Berger's gleeful I-told-you-so articles (when he actually never really told-us-so. He, if you recall, was in the 'the Leafs have a much improved defense' camp.)

I actually find his writing to be quite offensive. We have a lot of fun here at TOV and we try our hardest to bring you witty, humorous commentary on all things Leafs related (without resorting to name calling or the lowest common denominator of blaming the fans; it ain't my fault) but this type of small-minded bite-the-hand-that-feeds-you journalism that Howard Berger displays is only a thin veil trying to cover the fact that he doesn't actually have anything of worth or import to relay to his dwindling readership.
"I'm just speaking my mind. I'm just telling it like it is" are always the cries of the man who realizes that he has nothing to build up with his words. It is incredibly difficult to write something that doesn't take the easy way out (ie being "controversial" or "being a maverick" or whatever.) It is very hard to be constantly creative in ones writings. But that cannot be an excuse to produce something that is blatantly disrespectful to a vast majority of hockey fans.

It's bad writing, cheap tricks and it's wrong. Constantly wrong. And the more articles like this that he publishes, the bigger a problem it becomes.

But what is the justification? Comment numbers. Readership. Words of value and creativity don't mean anything anymore unless you can get 400 angry comments after your post.

So we here at TOV promise to continue our unique brand of Leafs commentary and we will never, ever resort to cheap tricks.

Keep the faith, remnant!

Breaking news: Looks like Toskala is out with an injury. Reimer has been called from the Marlies (along with Bozak).

Ch-ch-ch changes!

Question remains: who plays goal for the baby leafs? In NHL10 a backup goalie just generates out of thin air. Modig, where are you?

In all seriousness, JoeyMac will get the start (and the win) and don't be surprised if this "injury" to Toskala keeps him out....forever! Well...on this team anyway.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Wallace Factor

Feeling lost? Feeling frightened and alone? Do you both hate Sidney Crosby and hope that nothing at all happens physically to him before February? Faithful remnant, did you awake this beautiful crisp fall day in the Big Smoke only to remember your crushing disappointment from last night. Have you lost all hope? Do you have image of Boston standing at the podium making a 4th overall draft choice selection only to then read a newspaper and have Berger/Cox tell you how much a loser you are for being a fan of a team you've always been a fan of?

Is all hope lost? Is this to be our season?

Have I taught you nothing, faithful remnant? Put on your cold cloaks of pure rationality and lets reason through these first couple of games together.

From our standpoint the Leafs are lacking two major components that any successful hockey team needs. They are two intangible things that any team, or army or any group of men united in a common goal need.

But first, what we do have: we have a talented team. Players are growing up and finding their stride as actual NHL players. Stajan has looked good--something we don't really say here around TOV. Stempniak really looks good. He's starting to do that cut-in-from-the-half-boards-to-the-slot move that he did a lot in St Louis that worked so well for him. He's getting chances and soon enough people will be getting his rebounds if he doesn't pot them himself. Kulemin looks good and Whitey is starting to look like a steal. There's talent here and there is talent in the pipeline waiting for their shot. Oh yeah....and Phil Kessel; one of the best players his age.

Now, the team on paper look good. The Spanish Armada on paper looked good too. So too did the Senators last year.

No, there is something else missing--these two alluded to factors.

A. Emotional lift. The team has been deflated by two things this young season. 1: we don't score first and start playing catch-up. 2: Soft goals suck the wind out of our sails. We are not normally the types to blame one specific person for these early season ills, but truth be told: Toskala has not played to the caliber of an NHL goalie. Sure, we can talk all we want about the defense giving up shots or that "that was just the perfect shot--below the blocker and over the pads" and whathaveyou, but you as a tender need to gauge the emotion of the game and have your brain saying "you have to save this shot for the good of the team right now" match up with your muscular-memory reflexes. Basically, you need to focus and battle. Toskala is not battling at all. He is deep in his net and--as first-shot-first-goals can attribute to--he is shell shocked. He is scared and the fear is palpable even through a tv screen--we can't imagine what it is like on the bench. Honestly, he will sink us if we let him. Dude needs some sort of spiritual retreat or something.

B: emotion from scoring timely goals. When we make a big push and cycle in their end we need to finish it off when the other team is tired and playing sloppy. We need killers! We need people who smell blood on the ice and move to finish it off.

Do we have remedies waiting in the wings? Do we have a battler? Do we have someone who has the eyes of a killer?
Do we have someone who has a nose for the net (maybe a really big nose?) As you can see, we here at TOV think we have the pieces that are missing for this first problem of emotion. Toskala is/was good on paper, but Joey MacDonald has battled his whole career. Toskala is a cool chilled out brohime but Jonas Gustavsson says things like "I will be a number one goalie if it one week, one month, one year, or ten years." He wants it and he can smell that he can take it from Toskala. The Monster moves out of his crease looking like he is going to eat the forward coming towards him. Toskala looks...well....small. He backs into the net, goes down on the shooters wind-up and can't make a stop or be in position for the rebound. It is 100% mental right now and he needs to get away for a while. Like, on the bench. :)

If Kessel can score he can take the pressure off guys who have no business trying to. Every time Mitchell touches the ice his first thought should be "who can I kill?" Honestly. He does not need to go on the ice and say "can I generate a chance?" He needs to squish people and go back to the bench and squish people again. And last night, Healy was right--we need to squish their stars, not their fourth line guys. Kessel will allow the bottom six to do more bottom six things. That is, if Kessel can bring offense which we are sure he can.

This brings us to our second factor that is needed and we here at TOV call it The Wallace Factor. Yes. We need a Captain. And not Kaberle. Kaberle is a great great player--one of the best Dmen ever for the blue and white, but he's not our Captain. We need someone who, when the come to the dressing room and see that sacred white 9-point in a sea of blue on their chest, their goosed-bumped arms remind them that they are part of something bigger than themselves. We need a man who longs to see his own shed blood fall on his jersey from a blocked shot. We need a man who dreams about the red glow of the lamp, the split second of silence and then the roar of us, the true fans. We need a man who can stir up the passions of the younger men on the team and have them rather die than see their goalie showered in spiteful snowjobs. We need someone who knows that a shameful win is more detrimental to a season than a proud loss where the other team is bloodied and happy that it is over. Honor. Pride. Glory. All the cliches are true and we need them in spades.

We don't care who it is. If Komi is the man, do it. If Schenn is ready, go for it. If bouncing-bald-baby Stajan will paint his face blue and throw himself headfirst into the oppositions bench, then call the seamstress and tell her to bring her C's. But we cannot hope to win without a Wallace. Wilson can only do so much. We need someone to actually buy into Wilson's Hanta Yo speech and have his peers see it and aspire to it in their own game.

And we need it now, before this season gets any older.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Dispelling Myths with Phil Kessel

God helpe the man so wrapt in Errours endless traine
Faerie Queen,

Faithful remnant it happened! Phil Kessel has been released from this mortal coil and he has joined the ranks of the immortals! Yes yes, but you know all this. You have lived and breathed (yucky) Phil Kessel for months now and you are just glad that it is done. However, this big splash into the serene Leaf pool has hit us like a big Burkean cannonball off the 5m. Our waters are not still, nor are the waves of our hearts calm. Some are even saying that there is something rotten in the state of Leaftopia. Yes, this disturbing of the deep water of Leafs Nation have brought forth many of the sediments of stupidity that had previously settled to the bottom. Such notions of "overpaying" and "is he worth it" have been swirling around, making it difficult to focus on the pure, beautiful truth of correct opinion.

Luckily, faithful remnant, you have us! Yes, we here at TOV continue our epic quest to rid the world of Foul Errour, much like St George killed that big snaky thing. So we have been keeping our ears to the grindstone and our noses to the grapevines and we have analyzed all of the prevailing arguments regarding this Phil Kessel trade. As is the case with all things Leafs related, it has done more to show the sheer lack of hockey knowledge of our media minstrels and has become a case study for horrible reasoning, ridiculous claims and over-all embarrassing remarks. I think David Niven said it best after a streaker ran through the Oscars--something about taking pride in one's shortcomings. Yeah.

So, we here at TOV have bundled up all of these poorly thought out arguments and "reasons" to dislike the Kessel trade and we shall, one by one, show how they are silly, and hopefully by our methods we equip you, O faithful remnant, with the tools of reason you require to fight back the agents of rational suckitude.

Drink it in, baby!

Argument 1: Two firsts is, like, mortgaging our future

Two first round picks--one in 2010, one in 2010--and a second round pick traded to the Boston Bruins in exchange for Phil Kessel. A collective groan went out from Leaf nation when it was announced: "Oh no! Not again! The leafs are giving up our future for the present and we are being mismanaged again." Many articles were dug up of horrible, horrible trades where first round picks were given up and then turned into superstars, only to have the player traded for to pinch out the stinkiest part of his career while donning the blue and white. So, yes, this is an argument based on past fact. But lets look under the hood.

Potential erroneous reasoning #1: Keeping picks = planning for the future = good team management. Trading picks = planning only for the selfish present = bad team management.

When you break it down this way it is easy to see the errour. Trading picks does not necessitate a "bad management" label. It's absurd to say "trading picks is always bad." There is no rational reason for you to say it is always bad. It's all about context baby! So for you "trading picks is always bad" I can only say: cmon now. You can't make up your mind when you only hear "first round selection traded for..."

But there are those who say "yeah, I know its all about context. I just think that trading two first round picks--essentially two good players--for a potentially great player is too risky." Ah, now this argument seems to have a bit more weight to it. Phil Kessel, the 36 goal 21 year old ball of risk vs the pieces of paper representing the ability to select unknown players in an unknown context with unknown data about what players are even on the board. I gotcha.

Often the argument goes like this (and, to my horror Bob McCown actually made this argument): "Well, dude, that's like, Schenn, Kadri and Kulemin for Kessel. Dude..."

Wow. Ok. First things first. Schenn = 5th overall. Kadri = 7th overall. 2010 pick = unknown ranking. 2011 pick = unknown ranking. This is equally as absurd and as strawmanish as saying "that's like Belak, Luca Cereda (who? exactly) and...Peter Reynolds for Kessel." Equally as unhelpful.

But to fully show how bad an argument this is, we have to demystify first round picks a bit. Post-lockout there have been many first rounders that have done well for teams--first rounders that have stepped into the lineup and matured as players faster. This is to be expected--athletes are maturing faster these days. Therefore 1st rounders have increased in value. But we forget 2 things: 1. For every great 1st rounder, there are tons who never make it past 50 games and 20 points. Tons.
2. First round picks are highly speculative and extremely sensitive to a whole butterfly-hurricane set of circumstances.

What we know of Kessel:
-dynamic goal scorer
-super young
-on the cusp of coming into his own
-will be 26 and in his prime once his contract is up

Think of what needs to happen for those 2 picks to be better than Kessel. Seriously, think about it. First, the draft has to be deep. Next years draft is supposed to be a big ball of fail. Second, the Leafs need to bomb. Always a potential, but everyone knows the Leafs are better (and therefore lower 1st round selection) with Kessel than without. This makes it even harder for those 1sts to be good. 3rd. The teams picking in front of Boston have crappy scouts. Maybe one or two teams will, but 6 or 8? Cmon now. 4th. Those players then have to pan out (or, more likely, exceed expectations) more so than a 21 year old 36 goal scorer.

Bottom line: it is highly improbable that the Leafs will lose this deal. It could happen, but Boston wasn't all that happy on this trade and mean things (*sniff*) were said about Phil when he left. The most skeptics can say is "we shall see."

So, myth #1 dispelled.

Myth #2: He doesn't have his Center anymore

This argument really makes me mad. It goes like this

1. Kessel scores lots of goals
2. If you pass the puck to a guy and he scores, you get an assist
3. Kessel scores lots of goals from Marc Savard passes
4. Savard isn't on the Leafs, so his passes are subtracted from Kessle's upcoming season
5. Kessel wont score anymore

Fo serious. This is the argument they use. "Marc Savard is a primo-setup man" they say. "We know so because Kessel has scored so many goals." Sigh...

I have yet to read an article of a Bruins fan getting nervous that Savard wont get assists because his trigger man is gone. Why not? Because they know that Savard will just set somebody else up. Fair? Ok. Then this is equally fair: someone else will get assists from setting up Kessel.

You can't win with people who hate the leafs. If you have a dynamic scorer you don't have a set up man. If you say something like "Hagman is a good set up man. I think he'll do well" they will point and say "Hagman a good set up man? But he hasn't got a lot of assists" to which you reply "yeah, we just need a dynamic scorer--you know, someone to finish off plays." "You talking about Kessel? He's only good cuz he had a good setup man."

You see what I'm getting at?

So Leafs nation, set aside your circle arguing ways and ride this tangent-pony: someone will get the puck to Kessel who, as a goal scorer, will score. Then someone can write an article saying "Stajan/Hagman/Grabovski [take your pick] isn't really a good set up man. They just are reaping the benefits of playing with Phil Kessel. Take away Kessel and they are average." Which is akin to saying "oh yeah? Well lock Hagman by himself in a room and see if he can get assist then!" Touche, Leaf hater.

My beloved friends, train your minds to seek out such errours and work diligently to rid them from your lives. You will be healthy, wealthy and true fans for it.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Kessel Offer

Faithful Remnant! Can you feel the cool breeze of lady hockey around the corner? Did you flip on TSN the other day to see our beloved Blue and White smuf-babies taking to the ice for their masterful beat down of the Baby Pens and the barn-burner against the Baby Bruins (Cubs?) We did, and it warmed the cockles of our hearts. Did you catch that Stalberg-Bozak-Hanson line? Sure they are 23 year old's playing against 18 year old's but...well..actually, that kinda makes it less impressive. Regardless! I bet they are feeling pretty confident going into camp. Oh! And Kadri too. Sweet hands. And don't forget the Monster. Looks like a serious and focused kid. Kinda the anti-Pogge. We're pumped.

Since our last installment there was a minor Leafs trade, namely the 2011 2nd and 3rd rounder for 2010's 2nd rounder back. Faithful readers of the blog may have wondered why there was no installment of From the Oracle after this trade. We apologize if it left you feeling lost, frightened and alone. We also regret that you didn't have the opportunity to turn to our professional insight so that you, the emotional Leafs fan, did not have to suffer in the barrenness of your own opinions on the matter. Who can you turn to for stoic, rational insight into all things Leafs if TOV is not on the ball!? Well, we decided we didn't want to make the trip all the way to the secret cave of the Oracle to ask her mystical opinion on the Leafs latest trade because, cmon son, obviously the Leafs got their 2nd round pick back so that they can have a weapon of math instruction for their ongoing talks with the cap-strapped Bruins and their feisty, 36-goal scoring, Mr. Bags-Under-Eyes
. And what precisely would that math instruction be? Well, St Brian says, "trade us Kessel for a decent return or we'll use our picks to sign Gollum to an offer sheet that you can't match."

(For those of you out of the loop at this point: Team A wants to sign their Restricted Free Agent (RFA) to a contract but the kid refuses. Team B--provided they have their 1st, 2nd and 3rd round pick for the next year--can swoop in and offer the kid a contract and, depending on the size of the contract, Team A will be compensated with a number of the picks. The Leafs traded to get their own 2nd rounder back so that they can be in this position.)

So Ahab, the great white prize is within your sights. Will St Brian be a fisher-of-men? Or will this be a big ol fail-whale. Let's break it on down.

Full Steam Ahead!

Sign him! Dude scored 36 goals in 70 some games. He can easily pot 40. Him on Micky Grabs wing (and one day Kadri's) would be magical. And speedy. And we've got enough goons now to allow him to work his lil patchy-beard magic. Plus he's got a pretty wicked Northern American accent. Have you ever heard him say "Haackey." I can almost hear him saying "great jarb on dat pass der, Meekhail. We scored a gash-darn graet goal."

At this point, the only deterrent is the compensation. Around the draft the deal was rumored to involve Kaberle and some sort of pick (a 1st) going from one team to another...except neither team seemed to know which one was going to give it.

Needless to say,



(Yeah, I've always found that a weird saying too). Needless to say, the deal didn't go through and Kessel is still contractless and Kaberle is still shining up his baby-face for the new season.

But what of the potential of a 1st rounder and 3rd rounder or a 1st, 2nd and 3rd going to the Bruins? Can we stomach 3 high-potential players for 1 sure thing? A 20-something 40g man doesn't come along often. We..*shudder*...lost our last shot at one in the Nolan trade and he's been potting goals with other Leaf sendoffs (Alex "Not worth it for Pronger" Steen and Carlo "Splodybones" Colaiacovo.) Surely we can sacrifice one draft year for a bona fide star in Kessel. Besides, this draft coming up is apparently going to be pretty brutal after the first few picks. Like...brutal.

So the option is: Phil Kessel or 3 players who are probably going to be projects or like good 2nd line guys. Or Phil Kessel.

So, should we land this fish? What say ye, Herman?

"All that most maddens and torments; all that stirs up the lees of things; all truth with malice in it; all that cracks the sinews and cakes the brain; all the subtle demonisms of life and thought; all evil, to crazy Ahab, were visibly personified, and made practically assailable in [Phil Kessel]. He piled upon the whale’s white hump the sum of all the general rage and hate felt by his whole race from Adam down; and then, as if his chest had been a mortar, he burst his hot heart’s shell upon it."

Agreed. Pull the harpoon trigger, Burkie!


Save the Whales, man

To be honest, the only reason I can see us not wanting to do this is if we are convinced that Phil Kessel doesn't want to be in Toronto and will bolt at the end of a contract or demand a trade later on. I personally love Boston. Great place to live, especially as a 20-something. Regardless, for some reason Phil has decided that he wants to get out. Is that the kind of player we want in the room?

I suppose another reason is if we really think the Leafs are in a lottery pick spot again this season. But with Ottawa's regress and Montreal's journey to the Lollipop Guild (adorable lil forwards; we actually have footage of a dust-up at their practice the other day)...well, we honestly don't see the Leafs in that 13th-15th spot this year.

To be honest, I think Kessel is the perfect player for this team and for this coach and GM and if we can get him without giving up Kaberle, than we throw the picks overboard and not look back.

What do you think, faithful remnant?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Goalie Haikus and dispelling myths with Jason Allison

There is our new monster, Gustavsson, striking fear into the hearts of the rest of the league, here personified by Godzilla.

Faithful Remnant! There is so much to say. So much to do. Leafs nation has just received the equivalent of your long lost uncle showing up at your door and asking if he can stay for the next 82 games--and we have rightly said, "um...let's see how September goes first, ok Uncle Jason?" Yes, unless you have in the Jeux Canada Games broadcasting live from warm sunny Prince Edward Island, you will probably have already heard that Jason Allison--poster child of the old NHL--has asked if he can try out with the Leafs in hopes of playing next year. Unsurprisingly this brought all of those deep-seated, traumatic, scars-of-the-past to the surface of the collective Leaf consciousness. Don't worry, Leafs nation, we here at TOV will continue our quest to return you, the Leafs fan, to the proper state of logical, Stoic/Yoda-like contemplation on all Leafs matters.

But first, let us calm our hearts and minds by drinking in the sweet waters of the last installment of our Leafs Summer Haikus: Goalie Edition.

Vesa Toskala

A new robo-groin!
Think the funniest guy in
Finland can bounce back?

Jonas Gustavsson

Every time you make
a highlight reel save you can
pillage a small town

Ok, now that we have talked about groins and world destruction, we can get down to business. We admit that when we heard that Jason Allison was going to be coming to training camp in order to try to win a spot on the team we went through all of the hockey related cliches that we Leafs fans go through every time something like this is announced: "Oh no! We are returning to the old days of old players trying to make comebacks with their childhood fantasy team," and "blarg! Surely this will take away much needed ice time from our lil smurfs' development!" and also "but, but, but...the new NHL is all about speed. Captain Molasses will be one step behind and will drag the team down with him."

However, when the initial panic and lashing out in fear left us, we sat down and stoically reasoned through these three prevailing hockey arguments and decided that a) they are not entirely accurate and b) that Jason Allison on the team would not be a bad thing. Let us show you!

Myth #1: The Leafs never change/we like old dudes

We know this argument well and it comes to us in many different forms--mortgage our future for the present, we love those whose best days are behind them, we need more "veteran presence" etc. And because of this legacy we Leaf fans have developed a "if they are older than 32, they must be a bad idea." We have seen old guys come in before and not play to the level that they had played elsewhere. We are scared that we are buying high, having sold low in order to get them here. We are scared of making a big ol mistake again.

Well, in this situation, this is the easiest of the three myths to dispel. Allison will be coming in as a guy who hasn't played in three years, is desperate to make the team (and get a paycheck) and who will most likely take a league minimum 2-way deal in order to suit up for the year. He's not going to cost us a Brad Boyes or a Alyn McCauley. Right now he is kinda like a company that has almost gone bankrupt. His stock price is pennies. We can buy him and the only risk we have is the initial purchase price, which we have noted is going to be low. Worst case scenario, we pay him 500k to sit in the box and remember the good ol' days. And the upside is obvious--he scores on a point-per-game pace that he had last time he was here.

So this isn't the patented "Leafs only look to old guys" move of the past. The team makeup is not the same the last time he was here when we got him, O'Neill, Lindros, Khavanov, and Czerkawski. That was like having a whole team of penny stocks. Anyone can tell you that a portfolio of only penny stocks has a slim chance at making you a millionaire and a great chance at revealing your stupidity. Leaf fans, we are not in that old boat, so the old argument does not apply.

Myth #2: He's stealing icetime

This is a seemingly compelling argument. It goes as follows:

1. The Leafs only have a limited amount of ice time
2. The ice time is divided according to those who deserve it
3. Youth grow by playing more
4. Older players have hit their plateau and, although having less potential than young players, they are at the present time better than the learning players, due to experience and by having previously proved themselves
5. The older players therefore get the ice time due to argument #2.
6. A team with older players stunts the growth of younger players.

This is the argument that is bandied about in one form or another. And it applies to this situation. If Allison joins the team he as a center bumps Stajan down a line, who in turn bumps a young guy like Tlusty or Bozak down a line and they either don't play for the club, or they play super limited amounts of time and their growth is stagnated.

However, this argument is based on one major fallacy. That fallacy is that by playing in the NHL you become an NHL caliber player. This is not necessarily true. We like to think that by taking a fresh 18 year old with tons of skill and potential and by throwing him into the fire that after a few seasons of trying to play with the big boys, he eventually will. "Let Bozak have the second line this year. Even if he sucks, he'll get tons of experience" except we fail to remember that the only experience he is getting is the experience of being a crappy NHL player, struggling to keep his head above water.

Now, sometimes this works. Look at Schenn last year--he just got better the more difficult situations he was in. Good for him and lucky for us. But we had a backup plan in case he didn't fare so well and had to go back to Jr. (The backup plan was named Frogren, who, because Schenn rocked, didn't get lots of playing time.)

You don't become a great player by being a crummy young player amongst great players. You become a great player because you have been tearing it up in a league that is below your standard and you are so hungry for success that when you finally get called up to the big leagues you are determined to never, ever get sent back down to the AHL. This has been the story line of Bobby Ryan, a Burkian success story.

So you may think that Jason Allison is stunting the growth of our players, but we suggest that not having Jason Allison opens up our players to risks that they should not have to shoulder. If Bozak makes the team, he makes the team because he beats out a proven vet who is hungry because...well...because he hasn't been paid in three years and is probably literally hungry! Without Allison, Bozak makes the team because he beats out another unproven rookie and he is just the best of the rookies.

We here at TOV maintain that signing Jason Allison helps the kids grow by keeping them down and letting the pressure build in their little hearts.

Myth #3 Dude is Sloooooow!

This has been the knock on Jason Allison: he is very, very very slow. And it is true. He's not a fast skater. When he played for us he would trail behind speedier wingers who took the puck into the zone and would be driving to the net when he was plowing over the blue line (which meant he always made it to the net in time for rebounds.) "Speed kills" is the unofficial slogan of the new NHL. We need a team of lil speedy guys buzzing around to be successful. And this is true. And the Leafs are now a much faster team. When Allison played for us before, he was a slug amongst slugs. But if he plays for us again he will be a slug amongst...I dunno...ponies or something...

In other words, he will be an offsetting player. He will alter the flow of our attack on the line he is playing on. In other words, because a man will have to cover him, he will open up the offensive zone. He'll pull a defender with him and slow that defender down. Or if the defended ignores him, he'll take his massive body in front of the net and bang away. When he gets the puck, he'll do what he has always done really well (something Kovalev has mastered when Kovalev is the master over his apathy) he will slow the game to his level (something I wanted Wellwood to learn when he was here.) Allison's slow attack will offset our fast attack. He will make the other team have to think and react and make mistakes. If all four lines attack in the same way, they are easy to defend.

Now, because he is slow, he will make a great secondary attack. He can't, nor should be our top line guy. But he will put up points (especially on the PP). Stajan should learn his game because they are similar players. He will force the smurfs to have to work harder to make the team. He's got a wicked beard. Also, we don't have a veteran point-getting forward. We got tons of I'm-a-gonna-squish-you veteran forwards. Who does Grabovski have to look to for inspiration when he gets in a goal slump? Primeau? Allison should be a good role model for the offensive guys.

We hope that these myths have been dispelled for you, especially the myth that "the younger you are the better a team you are."
So for these reasons we here at TOV give Jason Allison our stamp of approval.

Do you?

Til we meet again, keep the faith.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Haiku pt 2: The Defence edition

Hopefully an accurate description of what our D will do to the opposition next season....oh yeah, and it's some sort of haiku related wave picture. Dunno.

Faithful remnant! Welcome to part 2 of our haiku segment. We have been bringing to you these little thoughtful poems about every Leaf player likely to be on our roster in order that you may have some small windows of hope and serenity in cruel cruel August. Yes there are Olympic camps happening and yes there is compelling hockey news out there--speaking of which, the NHL wants to own the Phoenix Coyotes! Is that not craziness? How can a league, who officiates games impartially in order that teams with millions of dollars hanging in the balance can play out their own fate, actually own and operate a franchise? Like, how is that even sports anymore? Sure you may dislike Balsillie and his silly bald head, but you would scuttle the integrity of an entire sport to na-na-na-na-poo-poo a guy? What is the world coming too! It's like having a government run a bank!

Anyway, we free market libertarian types here at TOV realize that none of this is Leafs related and seeing as you are a devoted fan to the True Franchise (may all her wrist-shots be true) you are hankerin' for some...haiku'erin.

En garde!

Francois Beauchemin

Good street. Happy trails.
No matter the translation,
you will bring us wins.

Garnet Exelby

Garnet? Were you some
sort of farm boy in the late
forties growing up?

Jeff Finger

Kaberle you're not.
Except contractually.
So...epic fail?

Jonas Frogren

"My name is Jonas!
Do do do do do do doooo."
Plus, you look like Thor

Carl Gunnarsson

You won't make the team.
But dude, wicked last name! Light
it up at Ricoh.

Tomas Kaberle

I'm sorry for this.
I realize now that you should
stay here forever.

Michael Komisarek

You were once a Hab.
Even then I secretly
liked you. Glad you're here.

Luke Schenn

I bought your jersey!
It's, like, on my wall. *giggle!* need anything?

...cuz, like, you'll
you know, the Captain one day,
and I know...

No? You're good? Hey man,
that's like totally cool man.
Another time. Yup.

Mike Van Ryn

I hear Swarovskis is
making your bobble head doll
next season. Don't die :(

Ian White

Behold! The awesome
power of facial hair! Are
you a Nazarene?

Well, there you have it folks! Please feel free to compose your own haikus in the comment section. Remember, it's five syllables, seven syllables, five syllables and they must contain wit.

Stay tuned for our final, and much shorter, goalie haiku posting. By then we'll be feeling all loose and limber and ready to take one some much more weightier topics for the upcoming season.

Til then, keep the faith

Monday, August 17, 2009

The August Desert: Forward Haikus

Can you feel the symbolism!?

August is the cruelest month. The dry, barren days of the hockey year. The Leaf's roster looks pretty much set and with Double B chilling out with Team USA for their camp there doesn't seem to be much going on. Actually, it doesn't just seem that way, it is that way.

But then we got reflecting upon the concept of barrenness. Sure, nothing is happening, nothing is going to happen until training camp, the Maple Leaf Gardens of our hearts will receive no moisture for the next few weeks and we must all go into survival mode, taking whatever little bit of blessed hockey moisture we can to keep us from wilting under the hot sun of boredom (aka: August Baseball in Toronto).

So in honor of small bits of life-giving moisture in a parched land, we present to you: The Maple Leaf Haikus of August--for you see, the haiku is the small bit of life-giving moisture of the literary world. So we're going to give a haiku to every player who is probably going to be on the roster. This will be a three-part post starting with that rag-tag bunch: the forwards.

Drink it in, baby!

Niklas Hagman

We pay you a lot
to only deke once a year.
Dude. Seriously.

Jason Blake

Few people like you.
Grabovski especially.
Go back to the Isle

Brad May

Did you retire?
Honestly, no one recalls.
If not, come back mean.

Lee Stempniak

I lobbied for you.
I thought you would be a steal.
You broke my heart, Lee.

Matt Stajan

Dude looks like a child;
A balding child, but a child.
Keep scoring helpers!

Christian Hanson

So pumped! Drop the gloves!
Just like your dad, bust some face!
Tin foil ftw!

Jamal Mayers

There's no way you play
on any line next year. Just... some heart, man!

Alexei Ponikarovsky

On your jersey your
name actually goes down
your sleeve. That's funny.

John Mitchell

Fifty bucks if you
can go all season without
dropping an f-bomb

Nikolai Kulemin

It is no secret
that you are our favorite
of all the lil smurfs

Mikhail Grabovski

Your hair: a lion's mane
Your heart: unquestionably
loyal. Let's flip off Habs!

Colton Orr

You and Jamal Mayers
can fight it out for who wins
lamest fourth liner

Wayne Primeau

Oh yeah! Wayner, you
can join them too. Brian, what's
the deal with these guys!?

Rickard Wallin

Your name is Rickard.
Like the beer! Dude, that is so cool.
Instant fan favorite.

Tyler Bozak

Will you make the team?
Are you the Schenn of 09?
Oracle, report!

Nazim Kadri

Is it Kadri that
you want? Cuz it's Kadri that
we are going to pick.

Hopefully this can keep you hydrated until we get some real meat and potatoes!

Until then, keep the faith

(Edit: Feel like your favorite guy didn't get the haiku he deserved? Write one in the comments!)

Monday, August 10, 2009

From the Oracle: The Pogge Trade

Sorry, it's taking time for my magic dinner plate to load the "promising Leafs traded" file

So soon for another installment of From the Oracle? Well, we find ourselves back in that frenzied position. You know that position—a trade has just gone down and the chemistry and makeup of the team has been altered and you are in that scared and worried place: “did we just screw ourselves over? Did we win that trade? Will I miss player x? My google search of player y has yielded no fruit. I’m lost and frightened and I seek council.” Well luckily we here at TOV recognize that you are feeling lost and adrift and that is why we take the arduous trek to visit our oracle whenever a trade happens. We vow to bring you her secret and mystical utterances.

Surely by now if you are faithful followers of our fantastic franchise you will know that the Leafs have all but traded Pogge to Anaheim for a conditional draft pick based on his performance for the Ducks (*edit: it's official now.) Recently we here at TOV profiled our beleaguered puckstopper, where we weighed the pros and cons of keeping our lil cocky Poggers. Ultimately we were in favor on keeping him and letting him test his mettle by competing for a backup position on the Baby Leafs (and we also mused about a dream scenario of loaning him out to a team, much like they do it in Europe and much like how I loan out all my crappy young players when I’m playing FIFA 09. Off to Nottingham Forrest for you! Haha!) We were actually looking forward to seeing if he had what it takes mentally to work his way up the ladder.

However, St Brian had other ideas. He actually went through with his “this kid deserves a chance to play and I’m going to give him a chance to play by not playing for us” threat. Methinks Burke actually means what he says when he says things to the media. Weird. We are so used to JFJ lawyer speak: “I am not currently at liberty to discuss that particular issue regarding that particular player or players like him, but all I can say to our fans with their insatiable hunger for any scrap of knowledge from the front office is that I am looking at all options, non-options, potential options, options both known to me and unknown to me and any options that fall into the category of unknown unknown options, in order to bring this club to the level of competitiveness that we would like to see our team be at” zzzzzzzzzzz….*murf* hmm? Oh yeah. Oracle.

So Burkie is doing what he says. How odd. When we posed to the Oracle our question of why the Leafs would trade away an asset such as a gold medal, Russian shutting-out, Rask-beater goalie of the future, she gave us an answer and ultimately a point of view that we had not considered before. After several poured libations, and countless incantations in an ancient tongue lost to us now she eventually emerged from her secret cave. Her oracle is as follows “a murmurer overboard murmurs alone. A murmurer below deck scuttles the fleet,” which is another way of saying “I think I’ve had too many poured libations.”

Incomprehensible as it is, our experts, lawyers and general holy men took to work unpacking her pronouncement. What we have gathered is as follows:

There are many good reasons to have kept Pogge: he’s young. He’s a goalie. Goalies develop slower than humans. He has that unfortunate moniker of potential—wanted by 19 year olds, dreaded by 25 year olds. He’s got a gold medal and a pretty wicked backstory of humble beginnings. He would push Reimer, or Reimer would push him, or something would be pushed in the Marlies. Whatever. It’s the Marlies. Everyone is trying to get out. Plus it is never really a bad idea to have options at all positions, especially goal. We liked these options. These options made sense to us. We slept at night knowing that Pogge knew what job he had in front of him and it was time for him to go out an win our hearts and minds. Done and done, lets go make fun of Eklund (e5).

Well, St Brian said “kid won’t get time to play here. I will trade him for a pick kthxbai.” What do we say to this?

Our take

Three little words that have been the culture of the Maple Leafs for almost a decade now: country club entitlement. Fresh faced youngsters fresh off the boat, or fresh off the combine skate into town, get a few goals or some nice toe saves and the Toronto Media gets all love-shy and bashful and competes for who can write the best “I Wanna drink Justin Pogge’s Bath Water” article. All of a sudden the kid with Maple Leafs' shining in his eyes soon stands on his balcony, o’erlooking the city like a second Nebuchadnezzar and pronounces “is this not the Great Crease Legacy I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?” (For all you biblically literate readers out there, perhaps we should have a, “Is Justin Pogge going to turn into a Donkey” blogpost. We digress.) Before you know it the player is penciled in on the starting team and they start asking the equipment manager if the lawn chair they brought to practice is going to damage the blue ice.

So Burke is sending a message. You may be the goalie of the future. You may be a great talent that is waiting to develop. We may have been really happy to have you in our line-up in three years once you begin to breakthrough whatever it is you need to breakthrough to become the premier puckstopper that you have always envisioned yourself to be. However you are living and acting as if you have done it, and once you live like you have done something, you will never do it. Basically, Pogge started being Pete from Madmen.

So St. Brian’s message is that we are willing to trade a probable goalie-of-the-future in order to stamp out the culture of entitlement. As long as Pogge thought he was a great goalie without having been a great goalie, he would never be a great goalie, and there was a real strong potential that he would drag down the rest of the team with him. Scuttle the fleet.

It’s been a long time since we’ve had a GM who valued heart before talent, so we’re not really used to this. We’re concerned that a promising player has been shipped out of town, but in reality it may have saved the whole show, both for us and for Pogge. Kid just got slapped around. Kid just got schooled. He just learned the lesson that any sign of any taint or blemish on your work habits can infect the entire team and will not be accounted for on a team that is pushing to win. Pogge now has two options: 1. Go to Anaheim, work your tail off, live the Rocky III storyline (“Yo Adrienne, we did it!”) and become a goalie. Or 2. Go to Anaheim, never shake your delusions of grandeur and become Trevor Kidd, who was only ever good at growing horrible facial hair.

So we stamp out the culture club and all the bad karma chameleons, get a low pick and give a kid a chance at becoming an honest player and shaking the messiah-in-waiting label.

But here is our final point for you, our faithful brethren. If Pogge does go to Anaheim and Rocky III’s it there, once he is a free agent looking for a place to take his new found A-game, to whom do you think he will have a feeling of loyalty? Pogge probably hates Burke now, or is indifferent, or lost in a syrupy mire of self-pity and delusions of grandeur, but he would be truly shortsighted if down the line he doesn’t realize that this is the opportunity he needed to achieve the highest honor he, or any NHLer could have: being known as an honest and classy player. If anything, Burke is a good General to his men (and we love him for it!) Men marshaled under a good General usually welcome opportunities to be marshaled under them again.

Keep the faith.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Make some room on yo' shelf!

Comrades, the good people over at Maple Leaf Hot Stove have announced an exciting new Leafs publication: the 2009-2010 Maple Leafs Annual! And it appears to be 100% Cox and Berger free. So you wont read it and feel guilty for being a fan!

Read all about it here .

We here at TOV cannot wait to get our hot little hands on this sure-to-be gem. Rebuilding analysis!? We're giddy! We love rebuilding analysis. We started a blog to talk about St Brian and his Burkian building bravado. We can't wait to read it! We can't wait to debate their points and opinions! We can't wait for more hockey talk because we're sick of spending two hours on NHL 09 trying to create a fake Nazem Kadri and restarting our dynasty league.

So, pop open a bottle today, O barilkosphere, because Alec Brownscombe and the guys as PPP and MLHS are makin' us legit! They're rising to the top and taking us with them.

Friends, I have seen the future of the Leafs Blogging community. One day we'll all be sitting in a sports bar owned by Wendel Clark as the Leafs are in the playoffs. In will walk Darren Dreger and Bob McKenzie and they will see us, get all shy and giddy, proclaim "look Bob, it's the barilkosphere!" and buy us a round. Can you see it?

We can.

Find your favorite Leafs Stein and lets raise a glass to true fans

Keep the faith


Order and preorder your own copy here

Monday, August 3, 2009

Top Line Sniper?

He would probably have to change his number if he came here

Ok. Recap time. The Burkian checklist for building a team is as follows:

1. Goalie is top priority. Get a stellar keeper and a hungry backup for competition.

2. Big, beefy, mean defense. One or two puck moving offensive guys, but mostly dudes who will squish you or turn you into a puff of pink powder once you enter their zone.

3. Bottom six "blue collar" guys. These guys have specific jobs and they ain't the pretty kind:
a) 3rd liners. These are the shut down guys. Ideally paired against the other teams top line, this line is put on to, well, prevent the top line from scoring. These guys are focused, dedicated, unselfish and tough. Hopefully they can chip in on some secondary scoring too.
b) 4th liners. This is the crazy-eyes line. They are not as skilled as the 3rd liners. Heck, they probably aren't even as focused as them either. They may not even be unselfish. We all know why these guys are on the ice. They are there to liquefy Cam Janssen when he throws dirty dirty hits. (That really is one of the dirtiest hits I've ever seen in the game. But what is sad is how Travis Green only gives Janssen a stern verbal warning and not an epic beat down. Even Belak's beat down a few games later was sad.) We have this line so that our Kaberle's and our Grabovski's and our (one day) Kadri's can do their thing. (Or, we get someone again who can do both. You see the no hesitation in going to defend crumpled Gilmour?) What has the Leaf's lacked these past couple of seasons? A decent 4th line. We're a team of 3rd liners, but even a 3rd line doesn't do what a 4th line does.

4. Top six. If the bottom six were blue collar, does this mean these guys are bankers? Brokers? Either way, these are the guys who put up the points. Ideally, they backcheck and forcheck and have heart, but we here at TOV firmly believe that they are not the ones who set the tone of the team. The team's tone is set by (and in this order) the Captain, the defence, the 3rd line and the 4th line. Look at why the Senators have failed in the past 2 seasons. They have no identity on the back end or on the bottom 6 of the team. Sure they have scoring, but relying on scorers to flesh out the identity of the team is a house built on sandy land. Your sniper dries up for a few games, you all of a sudden have no identity. The Buffaslugs (seriously. Look at their logo) suffer from this. The Senators suffer from this. But teams like the Flames or the Wings or even the Canes don't, because they have this identity from the "ground" up.

Which brings us to tonights topic. Surely by now you have heard that Nikolai Zherdev has gone to arbitration and that he will be awarded somewhere in the 3.5-4.5 mil range. Unfortunately, the Rangers can't afford this because they signed Gaborik and his wet-paper-bag-for-a-groin. So the dude is going to walk. Something Gaborik wont be able to do after 2 weeks of the regular season.

Also, the Leafs do not have a top line winger. We have
potential top line talent, but we don't have that "this guy leads the attack every night" guy. Zherdev could be that guy.

So, our options:


Zherdev has tons of skill. He can score
and he wants to be the top guy on the team. He feels he didn't get a fair shakedown in Columbus and he was burried behind guys in NYC who had to play top line minutes because their contracts dictated them to. He seems to be hungry and wanting to prove himself.

Leafs have top line minutes to give. We don't have a bona fide scorer. Like we said earlier, even if he takes a shift off in backchecking, we don't really care because the top line sniper does not set the tone of the team. He needs to put up some points, not be incompetent off the puck and not be a creep in the dressing room.

Bottom line: Leafs need a top line sniper. He is a sniper that can be had without giving up any assets. Go for it.


Um, no thanks

Zherdev seems to have graduated from the Alexi Kovalev school of interpersonal communications. He may put up some points, but he also may go through long streaks of suckitude. And if he isn't producing and we bump him down a line, he may not have the heart to work himself back up to producing again. Plus he's expensive for all these questions. Also, and it sucks to say it, but as a Russian will he want to go play in mother Russia if the grind of a rebuilding team gets to him?

Bottom line: Is this the sniper on which we wish to build our attack? Is he really the hill we want to die on? He's a superb talent, but does he have the stones to stick it out when things don't go his way? Do we have the leadership on the team to keep him in line?


We here at TOV think that he would be a good fit
if we had a top line center and a throwdown top line winger--you know, someone who will chip in on some points (mainly assists) but is more of a dig-it-out-of-the-corners kinda guy. Think of Roberts - Sundin - Mogilny. Zherdev is a Mogilny in this situation. But we don't have a opposite winger who can dig in the corners like Roberts can (aside: I say we try to get Booth out of Florida) nor do we have a top line center who controls the flow of the line. We fear that Zherdev would be wasted on the team as it now stands. What would a lone Mogilny have done for us? So the question is, do we take a flyer on Zherdev in hopes of building a line for him down the road? Or do we pass up on him now and hope for a real game-changing winger later. Or do you fall into the "we need a top line Canadian boy" camp?

Let's hear your thoughts!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

From the Oracle: The Stralman Trade

She peers into the water in order to find answers for our TML concerns

In ancient times, during periods of great uncertainty, difficulty and potential disaster, men would take long pilgrimages to oracles to seek their council. Throughout the ancient world there were numerous oracles (and prophets and sibyls) who all had personalized methods of discovering the will of the gods. Some oracles would retreat into a cave, light herbs, sit in the smokey cave and wait for the gods to speak. Other oracles would dance or read tea leaves or retreat into the desert or paint pictures or make mini models or act out prophetic plays or be doomed to always tell the truth, but never be believed. Our favorite oracle would go out on a sunny day, sit down under the sacred tree and would listen to the wind blowing through the branches. Apparently Zeus--when he wasn't impregnating people--or other deities would whisper down the messages through the rustling of the leaves. The faithful oracle would then skip home and deliver the message to whomever asked her.

We here at TOV have our very own oracle (besides the great oracle) and here is what we asked her about yesterday's trade:

1. Why Stralman
2. Why Primeau
3. Will the pain of Leaf fandom ever heal?

She responded with was the usual antiquated prose style oracle pronouncement that we here at TOV have come to expect from our lovely prophetic lady:

Know ye better than I, fair fan? Burke's boulder has but begun to roll. Look to the new dawn and keep your eyes from the tower for any movement on the horizon.

So that was unhelpful. But luckily we had our legal experts and symbologists take a crack at it and this is what they are saying:

Stralman was a project. He was a potentially offensively gifted (love to hear it ding off that post) D-man, he was figuring out his positioning and when we sent him back down to the AHL he didn't blow anybodies hair back. He was unlikely to crack the team this next season--and if he did, it would be at the expense of White who seems to be buying what Wilson is selling. Also due to CBA fineprint he would have had to be exposed to waivers, and if he had been snatched we would have been screaming bloody murder (and we would have had to have read all the articles saying how we as fans overvalue our prospects. But as it stands we're now going to have to read the articles saying we gave up on a promising player from the same guys a year ago wrote how Stralman is not really a promising player.)

So it was either: Stralman makes the team, take a gamble on waivers or trade him. So we traded him. And wow, we got what we got for Antropylon and we got what we got for Kid Harvard. So that's pretty good for a kid who looks like a young Bill Gates

Why Primeau?


Now, the Oracle did say say things about looking to the horizon and movement and new dawn and that kinda stuff. My guess is that this is setting the stage for a bigger deal. Now, obviously as previously posted here on TOV we feel that Kaberle and Pogge are on the list of players potentially on the way out. Now that we got a 4th line center in Primeau our guess is that one of either Stajan or Mitchell are on the hot seat. Stajan probably has more trade-value and he is less Burkian than Mitchell, so let's assume it's him.

So a potential package could be: Kaberle, Pogge, Stajan (and the new 2nd if we wanted). Hey, that's a pretty decent return. So lets plug that into the "team's needing a puckmoving guy" and multiply that by level of desperation to make the postseason and we're seeing such teams as LA, Columbus, Phoenix, St. Louis, Vancouver or Dallas (in that order too). Obviously we're looking at a top line player or big blue chip prospect coming back our way (with, hopefully, an offensive dman prospect project like Stralman too.) And if you are a team perennially on the outside looking in all the time, and you have a superstar forward (like LA have in Frolov and Brown, and like how Columbus have in Nash) that needs the puck from the backend, I seriously think you take a good hard look at Kaberle. Is he worth a Brayden Schenn (yesyesyes!), or a Filatov or Brassard. Surely he's not worth a Turris? But what about a Boedker or a Hanzal or a Mueller? Our money would be on Filatov coming back. Maybe he and Kulemin and his wicked backhand are best friends and have chemistry.

So my faithful remnant, we here would put our money on the fact that another trade is coming. And, hey, if not, we got a second rounder that we can parlay into a surer thing than Stralman.

Keep the faith