Questions Abound Prior To Maple Leafs Training Camp

Interesting place we are at this juncture of time. The Toronto Maple Leafs are just about to conclude their first off-season under new GM Brian Burke. So we are really about to start the first season under the new regime. This, unlike last year is the first season of building the Toronto Maple Leafs. So of course I have lots of questions for you….

What do you want this coming season? What are the expectations, what will you be happy with? None of us, not even an overly homeristic blogger expects the Leafs to compete for the Stanley Cup this season. What then are realistic goals? Does it include the playoffs? Does it have to include the playoffs? Here is my take, I want a season where we don’t get embarrassed at home. I want a season where they show up 9/10 nights. I want a season where the kids play a lot and they are afforded the opportunity to make mistakes as Schenn was last year. Most of all I want a season where they are fun to watch. The outcomes of the games to me is secondary. I don’t care if they make the playoffs. I want ever young kid to get their chance and to grow as a player.

On a more specific point, which Maple Leaf do you want to really break out, have an incredible season, won where you can say, he is a true Maple Leaf? I am not sure which player specifically it is as I don’t’ know much about them, but I am rooting really hard for the US college players. I have so much respect for the guys who go that route. I have a lot of time and respect for guys who are bright enough to get educations in case things don’t work out for them on the ice. I am not so naive as to think they are all rocket scientists, but there is something admirable about having a college degree in your back pocket in case things don’t pan out. I would love to see more and more players go that route. I firmly believe that if the NHL is sincere in it’s hope to grow the game south of the border than it has to fully endorse and help grow the college game. Hockey isn’t basketball or football, but if they could get 1/100th of the focus on college hockey that they do nationally for football and basketball then the game would grow.

Now, I am also curious, if you aren’t cheering for the Maple Leafs, who is your team? Which teams do you want to have break out years, which do you want to see fall back? Me, I am a huge Capitals fan. I love their coach and I think Alex Ovechkin is a rockstar on skates. I really want to see them continue their climb upwards in the standings. Same goes with the Blackhawks. I am a little less enthused with them after they turfed Dale Tallon, but I love the young guns on that team, they are fun to watch and I think they play the game the right way. Of course, my two favorite teams are the Maple Leafs and whomever the Senators are playing on any given night, so as a die hard Leaf fan I really hope the Sens improve just enough to not make the playoffs but high enough to not have a good draft position.

From a media perspective, I hope that Jonas Siegel grows as a reporter, that someone new emerges as the voice of reason in covering the Maple Leafs. Jeff Blair was a fresh voice last season, Steve Simmons has grown by leaps and bounds in my books and Damien seems to luke warm on the Maple Leafs prospects as well. Finally, I hope that the Howie rants are greeted as warmly by Ron Wilson and Brian Burke as they are by each of us. How about you, what are your wishes from our beloved beat writers and broadcasters for the 2009-2010 Maple Leafs season.



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August 26, 2009 12:19 am

My “wishes” are similar to TSM’s – which is not too far off of what last season was. The only incremental ask is for the team to start to form an identify….likely one that Torontonians would appreciate….tough, hard to play against…gritty…hard nose, hard working etc…As much as i liked Matts, i’m more interested in seeing a team modeled after a Wendel Clark or Doug Gilmore…or even Daryl Sittler (he was tougher/grittier than you remember).

Robot Godzilla
Robot Godzilla
August 26, 2009 6:01 am

It’s been too long, making the playoffs needs to be a priority. And I don’t think it’s unrealistic to assume that they’ll compete for the 6th or 7th spot. But simply showing up doesn’t cut it.

With the added depth, these guys better be showing up if they want to keep playing.

I could see Kulemin breaking out with 50-60 points, given the right linemates. I’m really cheering for Wallin as well. It didn’t seem like he was given much of a shot in Minnie.

The Meatriarchy
August 26, 2009 7:53 am

If Tlusty makes the team he’s the one I will have my eye on for a potential breakout season.

Also how will Kaberle play with the threat of a trade no longer an issue (Burke says he will respect no trade clauses) and the added beef around him.

As for the media I predict they will all start harping on the following meme: “Burke and Wilson are too focused on USA Hockey and building that out and are stocking the Leafs minor leagues systems with US players to the detriment of the team blah blah blah” Just watch they will start saying something like that soon.

IF that happens though it probably means that the team is doing well on the ice and they have nothing else to write about.

Remember when Quinn was coaching the Leafs to 100 point + seasons and going deep in the playoffs the only thing they could come up with was ” no team with one person doing coach and GM ever won the cup” or “Pat Quinn yells at the referees too much.”

August 26, 2009 8:16 am

With the addition of Defence muscle lets hope that White gets 20 minutes a game and Karble gets less. Coach Wilson might change his benching punishment based upon one error (as Cherry calls him a bully).

Hopefully Burke has a game plan other than just grab big players with marginal skills. Time to pin the C on someones uniform…I cant find one worthy enough. Guys we still need an impact player very disapointed that Burke couldnt find one. I see the Leafs in the playoffs easily but not a top teaml


August 26, 2009 9:20 am

Two things I’m keeping my fingers crossed for his year:

-Two 30 goal scorers (Blake and Mickey Grabs would makes sense)

-Tlusty to make the jump as a legit top-six rookie, like what Grabbo did last year. Tlusty played great in the A last year after he relaxed a bit (I remember reading something about how a big change of attitude happenned last year after his parents came over and saw him play), I’d love for him to move up such that we have two young top-six guys like that

August 26, 2009 11:08 am

I would really, really like to see the golatending improve. I was a Toskala believer from day one, and I want him to play well if only to secure himself the starting position somewhere else after his contrct expires. If he hasn’t recovered his form or is still injured, then I want The Monster to live up to (and surpass) the hype. I miss the days when Sens fans could point out how much better all their players were before I just pointed to Belfour and told them they didn’t have a chance.

August 26, 2009 2:21 pm

I want to see them knock the living sh** out of the opposition, and have great goaltending and development of the prospects

August 26, 2009 2:32 pm

Fingers crossed for:

– no season ending/major injuries
– consistency in net
– 1 or 2 young forwards to surprise with higher than expected point production
– pummel the habs into dust every time they play :p

As for what other teams I follow last year when I wasn’t watching the leafs I was watching the Caps as well. It was a nice change up from the Leafs who usually tried hard but often came up short in the skill department. I’m planning on doing the same thing this year.

August 26, 2009 4:57 pm

Unrealistically I want the Leafs to win the Stanley Cup this year!

Realistically, I look to see some young players take the next step and really contribute at both ends of the ice. In particular I look for big minutes and production out of Grabbo, J. Mitchell, Kulemin and Tlusty. With the defense solidified and Toskala healthy and being pushed by Gustavsson I expect our goals against to be in the top 15 this year mostly due to a new found ability to kill penalties. No one will be skating around our zone with their heads down this year and that alone will change the team dynamic.

I also expect some veterans to give up some minutes such as Blake, Hagman, Mayers and Poni unless they are delivering the goods night in and night out.

Some other new blood I am excited about are Wallin, Bozak, Hanson and Kadri(probably a year or two away from regular duty).

I hope Primeau can fit in on the fourth line and offer some leadership and tutalage to the younger players similar to Brad May’s role last year.

I still think making the play-offs is a stretch but if the goals against come down and some of the youth break out with big years anything is possible.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x