November 20, 2009

Leaf fans just can't win

New study suggests fear, not expectation, of losing is what makes sports sizzle

Leafs now have a 1.7% chance to make the playoffs.

November 17, 2009

Brendan Shanahan retires from NHL

“I would like to thank my family and all of the friends who have helped me achieve and maintain my childhood dream of playing in the National Hockey League”, said Shanahan in a released statement. “I am enormously grateful to all of my coaches and teammates I've had the privilege of learning from and playing along side of, throughout my career. While I always dreamed of playing in the NHL, I can't honestly say that I would have ever imagined that I'd be this fortunate and blessed. I would like to sincerely thank everyone who has helped me fulfill this dream.”

He is the only player in NHL history to amass more than 2,000 penalty minutes and 600 goals and leads all NHL players with 17 “Gordie Howe” hat tricks.

He was a true warrior, one of the last of a dying breed.

Brett Hull on Peter Zezel

"Peter was a special guy and I'd give back every goal I ever scored to have him with us today"

The Zezel comments starts around the 6:00 mark.

Going Toe-to-Toe With the Hammer

FanHouse's Christopher Botta spoke with Flyers legend Dave Schultz before his induction Monday night into the Flyers Hall of Fame.

What was your best fight?
"Tough to say, but I had some classics with Keith Magnuson in Chicago."

Who were your toughest foes?
"Clark Gillies. When he hit you, it wasn't fun. And of course I have to say Terry O'Reilly. We fought eight times and each one was an epic."

Judge your O'Reilly fights.
"I'd say we each won four."

Gillies says you're good pals. True?
"Absolutely. When your careers are over, you meet guys like Clark and you realize you have a lot in common. We love to joke around and live life and have fun. We just never talk about the fighting. It took a little longer to bond with Terry, but we're buddies now, too. Hope to visit with him during the Winter Classic at Fenway."

Enjoy the Old Timers' Games?
"I did for a while. We had this one before a big crowd in Canada. Check out these two lines: Bob Bourne-Butch Goring-Clarkie and then Dave Semenko-Tiger Williams-me. What a blast we had."

How about being the villain?
"I really didn't think about it while it was going on. None of it was an act. I just wanted to stand up for my teammates and I'd do anything to win. It worked."

Ever get hurt?
"No. Well, okay ... once. Pierre Bouchard (of Montreal) surprised me, gave me a huge bomb to the side of my head. I don't think the fans or the announcers noticed it, but I was stunned. Probably a concussion in a day when they weren't diagnosed. Later on (linesman) John D'Amico came up to me and said, 'Schultzie, I have no idea how you stayed up after that one.' "

What's your take on NHL fighting today?
"Get rid of the instigator and I bet most of the players would be a lot more careful with those hits to the end. There are no consequences. And the equipment is out of hand. I want the guys to be protected, but the shoulder pads now are a joke. When I played, I wouldn't hit a guy with my shoulder. I would hurt my shoulder!"

Identity crisis: Toronto Maple Leafs should be meaner than junkyard dog

"After 18 games, Toronto is looking more and more like an NHL pussycat"

Hard working, truculent, tough to play against, tough to score on. Nothing fancy, just a blue-collar hockey club that scrapes and claws and scratches out victories.

That is the kind of team the Toronto Maple Leafs need to be. And it is the type of team the Leafs players say they want to be.

But it is not who the Leafs are, not yet, not even close as their season teeters toward the 20-game mark. The quarter-pole in an NHL campaign is a tell-tale point when a general manager and a head coach can look at their club and say, with some conviction, this is our identity -- this is who we are.

Ron Wilson can't say who his Leafs are, or maybe he just doesn't want to say, although he does know what he wants them to be: hard to play against and ferocious on the forecheck. But after 18 games, Toronto is looking more and more like an NHL pussycat, with a 3-10-5 record and a dressing room full of players just as baffled as their coach by the ongoing identity crisis and the lack of results.

"I think we are searching for our identity," forward Jason Blake said yesterday.

There are some contradictory clues as to what the Leafs' true character might be. For evidence, we submit Saturday's 5-2 loss to Calgary at the Air Canada Centre.

The Leafs piled out of the dressing room like a band of drunken, drowsy sailors, falling behind 2-0 before many of the paying customers had taken their seats. It was a familiar pattern. Toronto has allowed the first goal 16 times this season, and spotted the opposition a pair of markers on nine occasions.

But just when things looked bleak and a blowout loomed, the Leafs abruptly sobered up, realized the hole they were in, and played their hearts out in an effort to climb out of it while out-shooting the Flames 30-15 over the final two periods.

The result: a moral victory. And another defeat, Toronto's third in a row.

"You fall asleep for five minutes against a good team and they are going to make you pay," forward Matt Stajan said. "All of us have to be stronger mentally. I think we just maybe squeeze our sticks too tight [at the start of a game]. We have to take it on ourselves and try something different mentally."

Perhaps hypnotism is the answer, or failing that, a visit with the team psychologist. Stajan insisted the Leafs have not lost hope, or their confidence. He says there is a belief in the dressing room that they are a good team, and just need to show it on a consistent basis, for 60 minutes a night.

"I don't think there is any doubt in here that we can be better," Stajan says. "We definitely haven't played our best, and we could say the bounces haven't gone our way, but that's hockey. We just got to find a way here to put this thing all together. We just haven't come together as a team yet."

And so the search to find the Maple Leaf identity goes on, as does a crisis that sees Toronto on pace for a 50-point season. But the players are not panicking. Maybe that's because while they may not know who they are, they do know a few things about what they are not.

"We are not the Detroit Red Wings," Blake said. "We don't have that skill. You know how they play. It is a keep-away fest out there for them. For us to win, we have to be good in all areas --we don't have to be great -- but we have to outwork them, outhit them, chip pucks in, use our speed on the forecheck and get to the net.

"We are not going to have any easy nights."

AHL: Marlies vs Heat Rivalry

Oct 20
1 - TOR Greenop, 2:21 - Fighting , 5 min
1 - ABB Grantham, 2:21 - Fighting , 5 min
1 - TOR Rogers, 2:27 - Interference , 2 min (PP)
1 - ABB Baldwin, 4:19 - Holding , 2 min (PP)
1 - TOR Evans, 17:37 - Fighting , 5 min
1 - ABB Murray, 17:37 - Fighting , 5 min
1 - TOR Hamilton, 18:07 - Instigating , 2 min
1 - TOR Hamilton, 18:07 - Fighting , 5 min
1 - TOR Hamilton, 18:07 - Misconduct - Instigating (47.10), 10 min
1 - ABB Cole, 18:07 - Cross-checking , 2 min
1 - ABB Cole, 18:07 - Fighting , 5 min
2 - TOR Hanson, 1:27 - Roughing , 2 min (PP)
2 - TOR Hanson, 1:27 - Fighting , 5 min
2 - ABB Armstrong, 1:27 - Fighting , 5 min
2 - TOR Evans, 6:10 - Hooking , 2 min (PP)
2 - TOR Oreskovic, 11:25 - Tripping , 2 min (PP)
2 - TOR Hanson, 13:26 - Roughing , 2 min
2 - ABB Armstrong, 13:26 - Roughing , 2 min
3 - ABB Stuart, 2:10 - Roughing , 2 min (PP)
3 - TOR Oreskovic, 5:10 - Roughing , 2 min (PP)
3 - TOR Oreskovic, 5:10 - Fighting , 5 min
3 - ABB Grantham, 5:10 - Fighting , 5 min
3 - TOR Rogers, 8:44 - Roughing , 2 min
3 - TOR Rogers, 8:44 - Major - Interference (56.4), 5 min (2 PP)
3 - TOR Rogers, 8:44 - Game misconduct - Interference (56.5), 10 min
3 - ABB Van der Gulik, 8:44 - Roughing , 2 min
3 - ABB Armstrong, 9:52 - Boarding , 2 min
3 - ABB Cole, 19:13 - Holding , 2 min (PP)

Oct 21
1 - TOR Evans, 3:14 - Slashing , 2 min (PP)
1 - TOR Greenop, 9:56 - Fighting , 5 min
1 - ABB Sutter, 9:56 - Roughing , 2 min (PP)
1 - ABB Watt, 9:56 - Fighting , 5 min
1 - ABB Vandermeer, 13:10 - Hooking , 2 min (PP)
1 - TOR Hamilton, 16:53 - Roughing , 2 min
1 - TOR Hamilton, 16:53 - Fighting , 5 min
1 - ABB Baldwin, 16:53 - Roughing , 2 min
1 - ABB Baldwin, 16:53 - Fighting , 5 min
1 - TOR Berry, 17:54 - Instigating , 2 min (PP)
1 - TOR Berry, 17:54 - Fighting , 5 min
1 - TOR Berry, 17:54 - Misconduct - Instigating (47.10), 10 min
1 - TOR Evans, 17:54 - Fighting , 5 min
1 - TOR Evans, 17:54 - Game misconduct - Secondary altercation (47.6), 10 min
1 - TOR Scott, 17:54 - Fighting , 5 min
1 - TOR Scott, 17:54 - Game misconduct - Secondary altercation (47.6), 10 min
1 - ABB Carpentier, 17:54 - Fighting , 5 min
1 - ABB Carpentier, 17:54 - Game misconduct - Secondary altercation (47.6), 10 min
1 - ABB Chucko, 17:54 - Fighting , 5 min
1 - ABB Chucko, 17:54 - Game misconduct - Secondary altercation (47.6), 10 min
1 - ABB Palin, 17:54 - Fighting , 5 min
1 - TOR Perry, 18:49 - Delay of game , 2 min (PP)
1 - TOR Munro, 19:59 - Roughing , 2 min
1 - ABB Jaffray, 19:59 - Roughing , 2 min
2 - ABB Palin, 6:01 - Hooking , 2 min (PP)
2 - TOR Rogers, 13:51 - Roughing , 2 min
2 - ABB Palin, 13:51 - Roughing , 2 min (PP)
2 - ABB Palin, 13:51 - Roughing , 2 min
3 - ABB Vandermeer, 0:16 - Cross-checking , 2 min (PP)
3 - TOR Tlusty, 2:56 - Holding , 2 min (PP)
3 - TOR Rogers, 5:19 - Hooking , 2 min (PP)
3 - ABB Negrin, 17:40 - Hooking , 2 min (PP)

Now That's A Heated Rivalry

Well folks, there is no mistaking the fact that the Marlies and Abbotsford Heat are in the same division, and will be battling for important points all year. The series started off in a big way with six more meetings still to come. Over 240 penalty minutes, 20 fighting majors and four ejections were handed out in the first two games between the squads this week. Hard to believe from a Flames affiliate that has spent the last few years in the West Division in either Quad City or Omaha, and having Toronto only see them twice a year.

You had to know things were going to get a little rougher in the second game with a few line-up changes on the Heat end of things. This is going to be one heck of a season series between the two teams, and I'd be ordering my tickets right now for the four games that Abbotsford will play in Toronto at Ricoh Coliseum. These two games were as physical as you'll see in the regular season. The first game featured a highlight reel of crunching body checks that would make Grapes himself proud. Then, an old fashioned line brawl in the second game, just for good measure. Don't be fooled, the hockey was pretty good too. That's the kind of intensity you love to see in a regular season game though, as it makes you crave a playoff spot even more.

Marlies out-muscle Heat

"They came out hitting, and we didn't answer them," Heat winger David Van der Gulik said afterward. "We played like boys tonight, and they were a team of men."

In the third period, Marlies defenceman Andy Rogers earned a one-way ticket to the showers after crushing Heat centre Jason Jaffray into the side boards long after the puck had left the vicinity. Rogers was assessed a major penalty for interference and a game misconduct.

In the melee immediately after the hit, Van der Gulik – all five-foot-11, 185 pounds of him – launched himself into the six-foot-five, 225-pound Rogers.

"It was a dirty hit," Van der Gulik explained. "I'm not much, but I tried to knock him over and show him that if you do that, you have to answer to someone."

Abbotsford ices physical lineup, gets revenge with win over Marlies

A Night After Being Outmuscled The Toronto Marlies At Home, The Abbotsford Heat Turned The Tables On Their Guests.

Recent Call-Up J.D. Watt Followed A Fight With His First American Hockey League Goal As The Heat Downed The Marlies 5-3 On Wednesday.

Watt Was A Presence Both Physically And Offensively As The Heat Dressed A More Physical Line-Up To Matching The Marlies' Intensity From Tuesday's Game, Won Toronto 3-1.

Watt, Who Was Called Up Overnight, Dropped The Gloves With Richard Greenop In The First Period Before Scoring To Give The Heat A 2-1 Lead After 20 Minutes.

"I Found Out At 12:30 Last Night," Said Watt Of The Call-Up. "So It Was A Quick Turn-Around. (Heat Coach Jim Playfair) Just Told Me That I Had To Be A Big Part In Tonight's Game And Help These Guys Out.

Watt a bright light for Heat

When J.D. Watt was inserted into the Abbotsford Heat lineup on Wednesday night, he was expected to boost his team's toughness quotient against a pugnacious Toronto Marlies squad.

He did that, and much more.

"It was nice to get the goal, but even better to get the assist and the fight," he said with a grin afterward. "I'm not going to be a goal-scorer in this league, so I've got to stick to my game, and part of that's fighting."

November 16, 2009

Getting To Know: Colton Orr

The Hockey News presents, Getting To Know: Colton Orr

Childhood Heroes/Inspirations: "Brendan Shanahan was one. Eric Lindros. Those are probably the guys I watched growing up. It was a pleasure to get to play with Shanahan in New York."

Nicknames: "Bobby, Orrsey, Moose."

Hobbies/Leisure Activities: "I like golf. Draw. I like to draw animals – tigers, lions, stuff like that. A little hobby of mine."

Favorite Movies: "The Program. Gladiator. All those medieval times movies are great. Braveheart."

Favorite TV Shows: "Simpsons and Family Guy."

Musical Tastes: "I'm all over the place, Top 40. (Some names?) Well, back in Winnipeg, The Harlots. R&B, rock and classic rock."

First Hockey Memory: "I didn't start until age 11. I remember always hitting guys because I couldn't stop so I'd either use the guys or the boards to turn around."

First Job: "I was a bricklayer, laborer (age 14-15)."

First Car: "1989 Cavalier Z24, blue."

Favorite Meal: "Pasta, mushrooms and chicken."

Favorite Breakfast: "Frosted Flakes is the favorite."

Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: "Strawberry."

Pre-game Feeling: "Calm, just relaxed. Go into things that I'm going to do out there. Not too much. Just kind of keep it quiet. Keep to myself."

Greatest Sports Moment: "Playing in the NHL. Playing with some great players like Shanahan, (Brian) Leetch, (Jaromir) Jagr, so many. It's just been a dream come true since I've been here."

Most Painful Moment: "(Laughs)...being eye-gouged."

Favorite Uniforms: "Any of the Original Six. I like the old ones that didn't change it up."

Closest Hockey Friends: "Brad Boyes."

Funniest Players Encountered: "Darius Kasparaitis is the funniest. He's a character that guy."

Toughest Competitors: "There's a lot. (Donald) Brashear – he's strong. And (Georges) Laraque. Some of those guys."

Embarrassing Hockey Moment: "Going to the wrong penalty box. It was in junior. I got traded from a team – I was playing for Regina. We went back to Kamloops, the team I used to play for. After a penalty I went to their box – Kamloops' box – where I used to play."

Favorite Vacation Spot: "Hawaii."

Personality Qualities Most Admired: "Honesty."

will be back

Went on vacation and haven't had much time, will be back...

July 6, 2009

Leafs sign Francois Bouchemin

Leafs sign veteran Beauchemin

First and foremost we needed to make ourself bigger and change the tenor of our team,” Leafs coach Ron Wilson said today of the Leafs bolstered blueline. “People are already thinking, ‘boy you go across the blueline against the Leafs and this is a big defence and getting bigger.’

“That’s going to create some more room for our skilled forwards up front."

July 3, 2009

Domi, Probert: Battle of the Blades

Battle of the Blades

"They want us to wear figure skates, with the toe picks," said Probert. "That's going to be tough to get used to."

"I heard Tie Domi was in it. Now we'll be battling in another arena," chuckled Probert, a former Red Wing who had some legendary scraps with Domi, the former Leaf, back in the day.

Ex-Oilers featured in figure-skating faceoff

NHLers McDonald, Domi, Probert to pair up with figure skaters for CBC reality show
Former NHL heavyweights Lanny McDonald, Glenn Anderson, Tie Domi and Bob Probert are among the hockey stars who have signed up for an elimination-style reality series that will pair them with female figure skaters.

The CBC's seven-week series will also feature "Hockey Night in Canada" analyst Craig Simpson and two-time Stanley Cup-winner Stephane Richer.

The broadcaster says the hockey stars will be paired with some of Canada's top female figure skaters in a showdown that begins in October.

The female figure skaters have yet to be chosen.

"Hockey Night in Canada"'s Ron MacLean and figure skating champ Kurt Browning will host the seven-week series.

"Battle of the Blades" is set to anchor a fall lineup on CBC that includes the new comedy "18 to Life, about teenage newlyweds, and "The Republic of Doyle, about a father-son team of private investigators.

July 2, 2009

Dany Heatley

This is all I have to say about him. Oh, and note to future teammates, don't let him give you a ride.

Mike Komisarek

This will make the Boston games that much better. But with Orr having his back, how will Lucic react? These two guys hate each other, with a passion. They fought 3 times last season alone. Thornton and Orr have some history as well.

Some Habs fans figured they just let their future captain go. I'm not so sure about that.

"Would like to thank the Montreal Canadiens organization and the Toronto Maple Leafs for a new start! Merci!" Komisarek, 27, said via his Twitter account.

Komisarek's phone started ringing the moment free agency kicked off at noon.

"We talked to a number of teams and we whittled it down to the market place that made the most sense," Matt Keator, Komisarek's agent, explained. "To go to an Original Six team, in a city that has so much passion, was attractive."

So, too, was the fact that Komisarek has dealt with Burke, the general manager of Team USA, as the 2010 Vancouver games approach.

Welcome to Toronto Mike!

Round 1

Round 2

Round 3

Richard Greenop

After getting the invite to camp, looks like Burke went ahead and signed him anyways.
On the first day of free agency, Richard Greenop wasn't worried about being a big name.

The important thing was getting a contract and after three seasons with the Windsor Spitfires, the 20-year-old Greenop inked a three-year free agent deal with the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs Wednesday.

"It's probably one of the best situations," the six-foot-four, 235-pound Greenop said. "It's a team that's close to home and I grew up watching them."

Odds are this is a Marlies signing, but like I said, he can REALLY throw them. Chicago didn't want him, so thank you very much Bowman :)

Here he is going T2T with Leafs pick Jamie Devane. You can see his fight card here.


Garnet Exelby, known as XLB, as the fans will chant. This guy hits anything that moves. Sometimes he should drop the gloves more, but he can change the momentum of the game at any time with a brutal body check.

Mats Sundin anyone?

Perhaps some Domi?

How about some Satan?

Prucha? Best part is, we also got Orr, who comes to the rescue.

And if you are still hungry...

I guess the icing on the cake is, we also got Stuart. He is very fast and agile. He was a great penalty killer, and from what I have read, a very solid character guy.

July 1, 2009

Leafs sign Colton Orr

We got the best free agent enforcer available. He hit's hard, very hard. The most exciting fighter in the league. I hate to say it, but he will make you almost forget about Belak.

"To be a Leaf is like a dream come true," - Orr.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have dipped in the free agent market signing forward Colton Orr to a four-year contract worth $4 million.

Orr, 27, played the last four seasons with the New York Rangers and tallied five points and 193 penalty minutes last season.

The 6-3, 220-pound winger has skated in 245 career NHL games with the Rangers and Boston Bruins, registering 11 points and 549 penalty minutes.

The native of Winnipeg, Manitoba was originally signed by the Boston Bruins as a free agent in 2001. He was claimed off waivers by the Rangers in 2005.

Some comments from Rags fans over the signing;
"great signing, a lot of "ranger fans" that aren't into the fighting aspect of the game and just look at stats don't know anything about colton orr... his game and skating ability progressed so much over the time with the rangers. Hes well worth 1 million a year. We just don't have as much cap space to throw a million at a fighter. I would of wanted to keep him but if we could sign a heavy at league min with a one year deal then im for it. Justin Soryal will have a shot at the big club next year. Congrats Leaf Fans you just got your self one of or the best enforcer in the league." - papas1175
"Burke is true to his word in when he said the leafs are going to be alot tougher by next season. And he didnt waste any time in this huge step to that toughness in signing an elite top 5 heavyweight.

I wouldn't be suprised by fall that the leafs will be known as one of the toughest teams in the league. Opponent fighters/hitters will not be running at Schenn with reckless abandonment this upcoming season. Although the price for Orr is higher then expected, nonetheless an awesome signing for the leafs." - Elite Warrior

Get your Orr jerseys now, and let the cat smashing begin!