Another Day In Maple Leafs Coverage

Greetings from Seattle. Mike Zeisberger kept up the blasting of the Maple Leafs in the Toronto Sun Sunday. A few interesting takes, including his assessment of who is going to be gone when this campaign ends..

” Then Saint Toskala came to the rescue and made it four.

The same Vesa Toskala who had not won since Feb. 26, beating the Islanders on Long Island.

The same Vesa Toskala who had not posted a home ice victory since Feb. 25, turning aside the New York Rangers.

The same Vesa Toskala, the No. 1 target of Air Canada Centre boo birds, who last night was cheered when he blanked the Caps in the shootout, leading the Leafs to a 2-1 triumph. ”

Not sure why, but the whole begging part of his article is all Vessa. Is the point that we now love Toskala after last nights game? If so, I am missing the love in part. While last night’s game is nice- in the grand scheme of thigns right now it doesn’t mean ANYHTING. They beat a very good hockey team in the Capitals. They still are the same team who has only won 4 times this year. Again, I don’t get why “Maple Leaf Nation” is lumped into this BS full of crap catch all by guys like MZ.

” But in the long run, it does not change much.

With Toskala among 11 pending unrestricted free agents on the roster, a housecleaning by Burke is inevitable. In fact, by the time Burke, named team prez on Nov. 29, 2008, reaches his second anniversary at the post one year from now, the lineup will hardly resemble the one last night.

The writing is on the wall for Toskala, who earns $4 million this season. Swedish goalie Jonas Gustavsson, a pending restricted free agent, was brought in to be groomed as the starter, and likely will be re-signed early in the new year. ”

What? if it doesn’t mean much then why the hell all the focus on it? What a strange bit. Toskala is going to have to stand on his proverbial head to get renewed by the Maple Leafs. Burke has to be able to find better given what he and his coach have seen so far since they both got here. If Toskala improves enough that they want him, he will win goalie of the year this year!

” Of the forwards who dressed against the Caps, only five — Jason Blake, Phil Kessel, Niklas Hagman, Mikhail Grabovski and Colton Orr — are under contract for next season. Two others — John Mitchell and Nikolai Kulemin — will be RFA and likely will receive offers from Toronto before the summer, as will defenceman Ian White.

After that, all bets are off. ”

Isn’t this the type of stuff that was written on Saturday. I am not sure what is more confusing, why this is being written again or the fact that Colton Orr does have a contract that extends beyond this season.

” With the screws tightening for Burke to make a move, trade discussions have already been held, with Matt Stajan reportedly a target.

Stajan’s a stand-up guy who has shown modest chemistry with Kessel. Having said that, he never has consistently proved to management that he can be a full-time first or second-liner.

A rare survivor of the John Ferguson era, Stajan, a Mississauga native, might be better served with a change of scenery. That was the same logic used when two of his buddies, Carlo Colaiacovo and Alex Steen, were traded to the St. Louis Blues for Lee Stempniak a year ago. ”

Who in their right mind is going to give up anything of value for this guy right now? How much would you give up for Matt Stajan? I am all for getting something back for unwanted assets, but you have to get something back. What round draft pick would we get at this point?

” The Stempniak experiment has not worked out. With just 16 goals in 82 games as a Leaf, Stempniak, a pending UFA, would seem as good as gone, just like Toskala, defenceman Garnet Exelby and blue liner Mike Van Ryn. The status of role players Wayne Primeau and Jamal Mayers would seem to be in doubt too.

On the other hand, the Leafs would like to retain Alex Ponikarovsky, one of the pending UFAs.

As for Blake, locked in for a cap hit of $4.5 million US for each of the next two seasons, his two goals in 21 game performance certainly is grounds for a buyout, although that could be very pricey. ”

Not much opinion or analysis there…I for one have more time for Stempniak then some of the other guys. I suspect he would get more on the open market than Stajan, but what the hell do I know. I know this, this is a lame article that shouldn’t have been written- nothing hear of value hasn’t been said the day before in another paper.

At the same time you have Stay At Home Berger with usual silly rants:

“Though it’s understandable why followers of the Maple Leafs are angry and disheartened by the club’s dreadful showing in the first quarter of the season, I’m astonished with the number of people that are essentially writing off the Brian Burke-Ron Wilson tandem. These are many of the same fans that celebrated Burke’s much-anticipated arrival almost one year ago; fervently endorsed his defensive make-over in the off-season, and sanctioned the hiring of Wilson the previous summer because of his long-time association and friendship with Burke. Now, after a tough stretch in their first full season together, folks are clamouring for heads to roll in the Leafs’ hockey department.

Give it a rest. ”

Take your own advice Stay At Home, give it a rest. The ‘number’ of people who want to take WIlson out back right now are on the majority from the MSM who are trying to sell either papers or ads. The fans who have been clamoring for that change are callers to your radio station. The sensible fan has made no such argument yet.

“And, while the first quarter of their initial campaign together has been an unmitigated disaster, it would hardly make sense for the Leafs to start over yet again; to resume their decades-long hunt for the perfect hockey amalgam. There’s still every chance it could be right beneath the tall foreheads that comprise Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment. Burke and Wilson enjoyed the proverbial honeymoon period last season, as they were directing what was primarily Fletcher’s team. Modest expectations were followed by predictable results. And though Burke did some restructuring with second and third-tier free agents, only the foolishly optimistic expected monumental advancement in 2009-10. ”

Now Howie, is that any way to talk about Sir Damien and others who predicted that the Leafs would make the playoffs? Remind me again by the way why they are tall foreheads at MLSE….

“But, double-B will truly begin to earn his keep next summer, when so many burdensome contracts are no longer on the Leafs’ ledger. With enormous cap space, he’ll be able to go after the biggest fish in the free agent pond, and a Toronto team built around Jonas Gustavsson, Phil Kessel, Luke Schenn and perhaps Tyler Bozak, Victor Stalberg, Christian Hanson and Nazem Kadri will begin to emerge. At that point, it will be fairer to judge Burke, and to gauge how Wilson is able to guide a representative team. ”

Write that in blood and let’s all remember this the next time he slams Burke or the Leafs. Stay At Homer Berger is more like Short Term Memory loss berger… Remember the words, folks- he won’t I gurantee you….

“This season is a complete write-off, which is extremely and legitimately disappointing for Leafs’ fans after the manner in which it was pre-positioned. Burke and Wilson either got caught up in their own excitement, or they tried to sell the city a bill of goods. In my view, it was the former. Burke accurately determined last year’s club to be devoid of valor and he sought to remedy the problem in free agency. But, he may have overestimated the caliber of his acquisitions and their ability to withstand the Toronto hockey spotlight. ”

Why is it so hard for people to understand what Burke said at the start of the season? He said, that the goal is to make the playoffs. That is not to say that he thought they would make the playoffs, rather that it is the goal. It’s no different than a start-up business esteeming to be profitable in year one. Doesn’t mean they are going to be, rather, it is a goal. Burke has said repeatedly, that if that isn’t your stated goal at the beginning of the year then why be in the game. He is right, he had to state that the goal was playoffs, the alternative is pretty lame, and how do you motivate your players when the goal isn’t even to make the playoffs.

“But, the feeling of dread among Leaf supporters has to stop for no other reason than its utter futility. If you choose to bang your head against the wall for 15 minutes at the notion of Peter Chiarelli selecting Taylor Hall with the No. 1 pick next June, you’ll simply wind up with a sore noggin. And, when you’re done, you’ll be no further ahead than when the conniption started. The deal has been made and nothing is going to reverse it. Instead, Burke, and fans of the hockey club, must turn their focus to building a team around Kessel and hoping for the best. ”

Remember that one too should the Bruins select number one or 2 next spring!

Shoalts comes back with another stellar piece of work in tomorrow’s globe:

“For example, Burke is talking to the Chicago Blackhawks about defenceman Brent Sopel, who is earning $2.5-million this season and will get $2-million next season. The Blackhawks have agreed to long-term contracts with star players Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith but cannot make it official because they do not have the cap space now nor next season to accommodate all three. So they have to move someone now to create some room.

Burke is offering to take Sopel, who played for him when he ran the Vancouver Canucks, plus, say, a second-round draft pick to solve the Blackhawks’ problem. But Sopel is a decent player, so Hawks GM Stan Bowman is getting a lot of calls and may get a better offer.”

A better offer than what? There is nothing mentioned here. This isn’t even a proper rumour, Leafs get a 2nd rounder and Sopel for what????

“Either way, look for Burke to make a move of this nature between now and the trade deadline on March 3”

That’s not exactly rocket science David. The only thing that Burke has to trade these days is cap space. To say that between now and the deadline he will try to use that leverage isn’t exactly news.

“The most encouraging signs came from goaltender Vesa Toskala and defenceman Luke Schenn.

Toskala played his best game since 2007-08, his first season with the Leafs, although hope has to be tempered with reason since his play has waxed and waned for the last two seasons. But some long-awaited consistency from him would go a long way to easing the Leafs’ terminal goal-scoring pains.

Schenn finally looked more like the 18-year-old rookie who took the team by storm last season instead of the uncertain sophomore he’s been this season.”

I’m sorry, but one game does not a trend make. A player can look as good or as bad in one game to not mean anything. Wake me when they actually do something consistently say over 5-10 games minimum.

All that said, I get more value by reading an article like this one, don’t you?

Sun article is here

Stay at Home is here

Shoalts is here

About the Author