Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Into The Pages Of History

As most of you probably know, that wonderful man pictured above announced his retirement today. The Mats Sundin era has ended in the NHL.
There really is not much to say about Mats that hasn't been said a million times before, he came on a bad note, and left on a worse one, but no one can deny the years in the middle were magical.
No, he didn't bring a cup, no he wasnt a top the NHL scoring race every year, and no, he wasn't Doug Gilmour or Wendel Clark.
All of that is irrelevant.
Mats Sundin is arguably the greatest Toronto Maple Leaf of all time. End. Point.
Mats Sundin was the hardest Leaf ever for me to accept into my heart. He came to my team at the expense of Wendel Clark, no easy barrier to over come, his style contradicted everything I expected out of a Toronto Maple Leaf, and later, everything I expected out of a Captain.
It pains me to admit that I once too was one of those haters, I drank my Mats Sundin haterade with regularity, and then one day, seemingly out of nowhere, I stopped.
Be it age, or wisdom or dark magic, I finally saw Mats for what he was. An exceptional hockey talent, a quiet, strong and stoic leader.
Captaun Clutch soon was my favourite Leaf, I embraced him, defended him, and cheered him.
Mats was my Captain, Leafs Nation's Captain. It broke my heart to see him called out time and time again for not delivering Stanley's chalice to Toronto, it never seemed fair that Dougie and Wendel didn't (to my memory at least) take similar abuse.
My Captain preformed exceptionally right up until the time that he, for reasons I don't understand and now respect, broke my heart.
The reason it hurt so much was because I knew he would never don the Blue and White again, and he would retire under a different banner.
I realize now that that doesn't matter Mats will always be a Toronto Maple Leaf.
Dougie and Wendel were the Captains of my youth, but I grew up watching Mats, he was my Captain through the hardest years of my life and he never let me down.
I will forever miss Mats, and that big goofy Swedish grin will forever be burned into my brain.
I take no heed to the haters, you out there that would bad mouth my bald headed hero, oh not you Sens and Habs fans, you don't matter. I'm talking about you so called Leaf fans who hate him for "screwing us" get over yourselves. If you don't love Mats, well that is your loss just don't open up your mouth and shit all over a player who deserves nothing but your thanks and praise.

I hold no reserves in saying I will fight you.

Gook luck Mats, we miss you. I cannot wait to see the day you get honored at the ACC and have your number raised to the rafters along side all the other players of your ilk.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Hope Floats

But that's easy when the water is frozen.

A weird thing happened this pre-season. I was struck giddy for the up coming NHL season.
I have an overwhelming urge to run around screaming PLAYOFFS!!!1 at the top of my lungs and buy a new jersey for every new import Brian Burke has wrapped up in the Blue and White shroud.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not totally over the edge here. My crayons remain contained within my trapper-keeper and my secret parade route plans are still under lock and key, but.

But what you ask?

Isn't it obvious? I would ask back, had you asked me directly. Since you can't answer that directly (damn technology) the answer is yes. Yes it is super obvious, what are you blind? Have you been watching this team? Have you been keeping track of the concentrated awesome?

Of course you haven't or you wouldn't have asked such a silly question, you silly goose you.

Why? You're asking me why now? You are certainly full of interest this morn are you not?

Now I could go on at length about the defensive arrangement now hunkered down on the Buds blue line, I could gush about the steroid infused truculence flowing through the veins of Leafy town, I could even hypothesize the hype of the monstrous mesh minder making miraculous miracles .

Yet Nay my good peoples, nay. There are two main reasons I am full of glee for this upcoming season. And they Are Viktor Stalberg and Tyler Bozak.

Stalberg has stormed out of the gate and showed that JFJ wasn't totally incompetent (except if you take into account every single trade he ever made). Viktor posses' other worldly speed, excellent hands, a bullet shot, a solid defensive game and a forcheck that doesn't quite. He has also made the opening night roster and there have been rumblings of a possible Caldar candidacy in his future.

Tyler Bozak or TyBo as his friends call him, a former undrafted collegate player who said "Fuck you NHL" and willed himself to grow 5 inches and bulk up to 200lbs after all 30 teams passed on him during draft eligibility. Bozak lit up the post secondary ice sheets and even managed eight goals and 15 assists in 23 games lat season until he took a nasty knee on knee hit and was out for the rest of the season. He has a great hockey sense, and solid two way play.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Three Stooges Syndrome

You may have noticed a distinct lack of posting round these parts as of late, especially at a time like this, with much going on in the hockey world, one would expect a blogger to have much to discuss and / or rant upon on a daily basis.
My issue hasn't so much been a lack of material, but rather, a lack of any feasible way to channel it into a coherent blog post.
See, the problem has been that I am way too excited about this up coming season. I have literally had dreams of the Leafs playing these past few weeks, ever since we all got our first preseason look at the new improved Burkian Buds.
So I thought what the hell, why don't I let the viewing public gather an inside view of just what I'm dealing with here.

And so I give you a condensed transcript of my thoughts about the Leafs from the first preseason game up until today.

HOLY SHIT, these kids can play, I am so excited that fucker Stalberg is so fast but that Bozak kid has got some sick moves oh my got LOOK HOW FAST fucking excited dear god Kadri is going to be good FIGHT fuck yah! Look at that, you fuckin knew truculence was coming you fucks holy shit FAST skill WHAT A GOAL when the hell will we get a decent look at the monster, holy shit heart surgury? FUCK, wait well thats not so bad god I cant wait to see him suit up FUCK YEAH Stalberg playing 3 games in 3 nights shit that guy is fast, fuckin Rosehill likes to chuck nucks! I hate the goddamned Flyers carcillo you chicken shit, Orr is my new hero, EXCITED Hell yeah Luke Schenn is still amazing FUCKING KADRI, holy mother of god TRUCULENCE Lee Stempniak who the fuck is that? FUCK YEAH MAPLE LEAFS wowowoowowow YARD SALE Hagman was an amazing pick up. FUCK ARE YOU KIDDING ME? PHIL KESSEL HOLY SHIT!!!!!!!!1

and that about sums it up.

Thank you, I'll be here all week

Friday, September 11, 2009

Weighing In On Truculence

Much has been said this summer of Truculence. Leaf fans are excited at, for the first time in what seems like ages, baring witness to a team that will throw its weight around. Not since the Quinn era have we been exposed to a crash and bang Leafs squad that will punish the teams they face instead of trying to dance around 'em.
Many opposing fans have been calling thuggery and goonism on this new gaggle of Toronto Maple Leaf hockey players, phrases like "Gorillas on skates" and "team of lumbering dinosaurs" have been audible from the peanut gallery.
But is this the case? Has Brian to the Burke just pieced together a team of soccer hooligans?
Lets break it down, player by player.

Colton Orr - Yes, no denying it. Colton Orr is a goon. He gets paid to punch people in the face, and he does it well. What Colton Orr does posses, however, is an underated hockey ability and while he may not be tearing up the scoresheet or making game breaking plays he wont cripple the team when his gloves are on.
Truculent? Check. Goon? Check.

Mike Komisarek - A big, mean, physical dude of a hockey player. But a goon? Nay I say, nay. Komi is a defensive workhorse who is tough in his own end. He blocks and hits with the best of them and isnt affraid to drop the mitts should the need arise. He has proven that he isnt the most adept heavy weight as was exposed by one Milan Lucic, but he doesnt shy away from the rough stuff or lack the ability to start it when need be.
Truculent? Check. Goon? Nay

Francois Beauchemin - Brought in to replace the departed Pavel "hobobeard" Kubina. Like Kubina, he has a heavy shot, good offensive awarness and while his point totals are lower, Kubina wasnt stuck behind Neidermyer and Pronger on the PP. Unlike Kubina he uses his size well. Can clear the front of the net and will get dirty in the corners. He also posseses great character and leadership capabilities which Burke Covets. While he doesnt toss knuckles on a regular basis, he has been known to have pugelistic skill (just ask Jarome Iginla). A proven playoff performer with a solid skillset, possibly the best signing by Burke to date.
Truculent? Check. Goon? Hellz naw.

Garnett Exelby - A human seeking rocket of a player. Always on patrol for the highlight real bone cruncher, any player, any time, any zone he will take your head off. He also drops the gloves with semi-regularity and isnt all that bad at it. He doesnt fit the enforcer roll, but is often called to fight after one of his patented railroadings, but he isnt affraid to defend his team mates or get the crowd going. While not a traditional goon, he is close enough to fit the mold comfortably enough.
Truculent? Check? Goon? Close enough.

Jonas Gustavsson - Swedish elite league phenom, best goaltender outside the NHL last year, covoted by every team in the NHL without Luongo or Brodeur in their stables. Not one to throw the body or drop the gloves, but his name isnt Hextall or Emery so its not expected.
Truculent? Doesn't look like it. Goon?

Tyler Bozak - Hard nosed, speedy, excellent hockey sense. I will admit to not knowing to much about him. In all the highlights I've found on yonder interwebs, or in the Leafs Rookie tournament, while not overly physical he will go into traffic to make a play. I can't find one instance of a fight or big hit, but he certianly isnt affraid of body contact.
Truculent? Not overly. Goon? far from it.

Christian Hanson - Big fella, theres no doubt, but unlike his foil wearing father isnt much of a dancer. Much like Bozak, but with a lower skill set, he drives the net hard and uses his frame to make room for himself and line mates. He'll throw hits, but you'll rarly see them on sports center.
Truculent? It is in his blood, so it might be burried. Goon? Noper

Wayne Premieu - Career grinder nearing the end of his NHL days. A 4th line plugger who will toil in the corners and take his lumps.
Truculent? He tries to be. Goon? uh uh.

While none of these aquisitions are kitten soft (except maybe the Monster, but really does he have to be mike tyson?) Most posess a good amount of gritt and/ or sand paper. Orr and Exelby where brought in stricktly to terrorize opponents, but both will see limited ice time and be used in set peice situations.
The biggest movement by Burke seems to be the skill /truculent combo. Players that are effective not only at putting people on their ass but by either scoring or stopping pucks from going into the net.

Not that other fans are going to stop.

Truculence be with you