Thursday, December 16, 2010


The Toronto Maple Leafs began a three game Western Canadian road trip in Edmonton last night. However, judging by the crowd reaction, it might has well have been a home game. The crowd was pro Leafs, and it was fun to hear the dueling fan chants of Let's Go Oiler's against Go Leafs Go. Leaf fans seemed louder, and at times drowned out the Edmonton faithful. The commentator even remarked that Edmonton might need to score, just to quiet down the crowd. That crowd support clearly motivated the Maple Leafs. as they played one of their most complete games, on their way to a 4 - 1 win.

The captain got the team started with a power play blast from the point. It's fitting that Phaneuf scored his first goal of the year, in his birth place. Edmonton tied the game rather quickly, but after that it was all Leafs. Mikhail Grabovski finished off a lovely give and go with Clarke MacArthur for the second goal. Versteeg tipped a Luke Schenn shot, and got a lucky bounce on the third goal . Phil Kessel finished the scoring on a power play after some creative passing by Bozak and Versteeg. That goal was a pretty one. That goal was the Eva Mendez of Leaf goals this season.

All of the Leafs western Canadian players picked up a point in this game, which is a measure of justice for Leaf Nation, as all Ontario born players seem to have the game of their lives when playing at the ACC. J.S. Giguere made two point blank breakaway saves on Taylor Hall, but otherwise the team was solid in front of him, limiting his work load. The Leafs will look to make Phaneuf's homecoming to Calgary a positive one, when they play the Flames on the next stop of this road trip.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


It's been exactly one month since my last blog.  Why is that, you may wonder?  It's quite simple really, the Maple Leafs had an abysmal month of November, that left me at a loss for words.  Well I could have written about the Leafs struggles that month, but my ramblings would have been redundant.  Most of the blog would have featured Italian curse words, followed by a description of how we either lost, by being badly outscored, or because we blew the lead late in the game, only to suffer a loss in overtime.  That was November in a nutshell.  The only Leaf positives to come out of last month for me were, meeting Luke Schenn and Phil Kessel, and having my almost 3 year winless streak snapped thanks to a 4 - 1 win over the Dallas Stars. That was a relief to be sure.

December has seen the Blue & White play six games thus far, playing .500 hockey.  The three losses have been ugly to be sure.  Edmonton, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh all had their way with the Leafs, who looked as though they were sleep walking through those games.  The three wins saw Toronto display an effort and determination that appeared at season's outset.  The wins came against Boston, Washington, and those morons from Montreal.   If the Leafs play the way they have proven they are capable of, I think 2 wins in this 3 game swing is possible.We're sitting 10 points back of 8th place in the Eastern Conference.  It looks daunting, but the task is not impossible.  All it takes is another win streak like the one at the beginning of the season, and consistent efforts game in and game out.  Am I being optimistic? Maybe....but isn't that the point of the holiday season? Optimism for better things coming our way.  The Toronto Maple Leafs will look for retribution tonight as they take on the Oilers in Edmonton.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Since that dream start of 4 - 0, the Toronto Maple Leafs have gone a disturbing 1 - 7 - 3 in their last eleven games.  Sports media and fans in Toronto are starting to place blame on certain individuals.  Some blame the players, others blame the coach, but neither side can agree on who's to blame.  My feeling is that both the players, and the coach should share the blame for this loosing streak. The players have strayed away from doing the little things that were working.  They are no longer exiting the defensive zone quick and efficiently.  They are not using their team speed, and their hard nosed fore check, has all but disappeared.  Let's not even discuss their power play, because calling it a power play is a disgrace to the term power play.  They have one strategy with the extra man, and it hasn't worked for about 5 years. It's almost like listening to a broken record hearing the phrase "Kaberle to Kessel, back to Kaberle" for about a minute and a half, with no results, because either nobody shoots at the net, or when the do, the shot is either blocked or goes hopelessly wide.  Ultimately, our top guys, Kessel and more so Versteeg, just aren't scoring.

That's not the only problem.  Ron Wilson is also a problem.  Our 4 - 0 start was due to our style of play, so kudos to Wilson for implementing said strategy.  However, the other 29 teams in the NHL aren't village idiots living in the stone age.  Their capable of watching video, and as a result have implemented defensive strategies to counteract our breakout.  It is Ron Wilson's job to come up with alternate strategies to produce offence.  Yet, game in and game out, the Leafs continue to go to a dry well and play the exact same way.  I'm sorry, but that's poor coaching.  What pisses me off, is Ron Wilson's ho hum attitude to loosing.  After a game, when asked about his teams incapability to get shots on goal he says; "well, that's the conundrum we face, getting shots through." Wow! No shit genius!  If that's the case why don't you spend an entire practice on shooting, accuracy, and getting shots through crowded area's? I've come to the conclusion that Ron Wilson doesn't care.  Do you know why he doesn't care? He's in no danger of being fired!  Do you know why he's in no danger of being fired? His best friend is our GM, that's why.  It's that kind of politics, that will keep this franchise in the dumps for years to come. Burke needs to stop giving us the "Ron is a good coach" line.  Where's the proof?  The constant choking of the San Jose Sharks in the second round of the playoffs under his watch? If it wasn't for their friendship, Wilson would have been fired last week!  The bottom line is this, something needs to be done.  Whether it's a call up, trade, or showing Ron Wilson his pink slip.  Leafs Nation is getting sick of this bullshit, and we deserve better! 

Monday, November 8, 2010

Simpler Times...

Simpler times of being a Leafs fan, when the crest on the front, mattered more then the name on the back.

Simpler times, when you were excited to go to a Leafs game, instead of thinking, "oh shit, not another one."

Simpler times, when the Leafs had a legitimate first line of Gilmour, Andreychuk, and Anderson, instead of throwing shit against the wall and hoping it sticks!

The simpler times, when a coach would get fired for having 2 - 3 loosing seasons, instead of having job security, because his best friend is the GM.

Simpler times, when you looked at the standings in March/April to determine playoff positioning, instead of in December, only to realize we've already been mathematically eliminated.

Simpler times, when the #32 was worn by Steve Thomas, who could be counted on for a clutch goal, instead of a wanna be Eminem, who's too busy admiring his Stanley Cup ring.

Simpler times, when the team consisted of multiple scoring threats, instead of relying on only Phil Kessel

Simpler times, when after overtime the phrase "at least we got a point" meant a tie and not a loss.

Simpler times, when watching the Leafs on tv provided memories and dreams, not forgettable moments and nightmares.

Simpler times, when you believed that Santa Claus and making the playoffs were a reality, instead of being just a fantasy.

Simpler times, when Mats Sundin kept our playoff dreams alive by tying a game with six seconds left, rather then allowing the other team to tie a game we had well in hand, with a mere 13 seconds left.

Ahh simpler times, how I miss thee!

Friday, November 5, 2010


Going into Wednesday night's game, I expected the worst.  I thought the game would be a one sided affair, with the Leafs on the wrong end of goal explosion.  I was wrong.  The game was fairly even.  It was a back and forth affair, that needed a shootout for Washington to come away with a 5 - 4 win.  Kulemin gave the Leafs the lead in the first period with some fancy moves, and a beautiful shot.  In the second period, it looked like my fears for the game were coming to pass, as Washington scored three unanswered goals in quick succession, to take a 3 - 1 lead into the third period.  Even worse, was the fact that the Leafs had almost a full penalty kill to contend with at the start of the final frame.  The Maple Leafs successfully took care of the disadvantage, and then took over on offense.  Their style of play that had seemingly gone missing after the first five games was back, and the team was rewarded for their effort.  Three straight goals by Brown, Versteeg, and Bozak put the Leafs in the lead, with half a period to go.  However, a bad penalty call, and a broken play allowed Washington to tie the game, and eventually win it in the shootout.  In a game that I fully expected the Maple Leafs to come up empty, I am more then happy with a point.  Jonas Gustavsson deserves full credit for that point, because his stunning diving stick save in the second period kept the team in striking distance to mount a comeback.  I will be at the Maple Leafs next game versus the Buffalo Sabres.  Personally, I will be looking to see my first regular season win in two years/eleven games.  Will I see that ever elusive win? Find out next time. Same Leaf time, same Leaf channel.  

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Three games have come and gone since my last blog.  In those three games, the Toronto Maple Leafs have incurred three losses and have only managed to score a total of two goals. In games against Boston and the New York Rangers, the Leafs were held off the scoreboard, losing both games by a count of 2 - 0.  In last nights game, the Leafs spotted the Ottawa Senators three straight goals before ending a streak of over 162 minutes without scoring.  The Sens beat the Leafs by a score of 3 - 2.  Clearly, the Maple Leafs are having trouble scoring.  However, it's not due to a lack of trying.  The Maple Leafs have outplayed and outshot the opposition in all of these contests.  Having said that, I do feel the team has strayed away from the strong fore check, and breakout speed, that lead to their strong start.  I'm not hitting the panic button just yet.  We are a .500 hockey team with 11 points in 11 games.  Remember, it took us until December to get five wins last season.  Our defensive depth will be tested tonight versus the Washington Capitals, as the Leafs look to get back into the win column without captain Dion Phaneuf.  Phaneuf will miss 4 - 6 weeks due to a leg laceration.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


There is no blog for Saturday's game against the Philadelphia Flyers.  Quite frankly, I was disgusted with the effort and couldn't bring myself to write about it.  However, for the sake of completeness, here's what you need to know.  The Leafs didn't generate any offense, getting out shot 40 - 14.  The Leafs only offense came from the usual suspects, Phil Kessel and Clarke MacArthur.  Defensively the Leafs were atrocious in their own end committing far too many turnovers, ultimately leading to a 5 - 2 loss.

Speaking of too many turnovers, the Leafs next opponent was former teammate Bryan McCabe and the Florida Panthers. The Maple Leafs didn't play their best game of the season but fought hard, and dug deep to gain a valuable two points.  Ron Wilson's line alterations seemed to spark the teams offense. The reformed line of Bozak, Kessel, and Kulemin, gave the Leafs the lead on the power play as Tyler Bozak finally scored his first goal of the season .  Then in the second period after a ten minute technical delay, the Leafs seemed to slack off allowing Florida a power play goal of there own to tie the game.  Mid way through the third period the hockey gods seemed to be smiling on the Leafs. Colton Orr had a Tim Brent shot bounce off his skate and in, as he was crashing the net.  The play was clearly goaltender interference, but the officials didn't call the penalty, or call the goal back. I call that justice for the amount of times the Leafs got screwed by lackluster officiating last Monday against the Islanders.  Late in the third period, after a really long shift, Phil Kessel took the puck and, skated past the remaining Florida defender faster then a speeding bullet, and snapped a shot seemingly more powerful then a locomotive, past Scott Clemmensen to save the win by a 3 - 1 score.

Friday, October 22, 2010


There's really nothing to say about this game from a Leafs perspective.  The Leafs were pretty much flat for the entire game.  It almost seemed like the team was tired or disinterested.  They couldn't generate sustained offensive pressure, and defensively the pairings looked unorganized and kept getting themselves out of position, leading to Rangers chances.  Luke Schenn was the exception.  He continues to be superb on the back end this season, and even attempted to create chances offensively.  Simply put, the New York Rangers were the better team on the ice last night, and deserved the two points.  Had it not been for a late goal by Colby Armstrong, and superb goal tending from Gustavsson, the scoreline would have been far worse then 2 - 1.  Sure this effort was disappointing, and the worst of the season.  Am I ready to hit the panic button?  No, because every team has games like this one throughout a long season.  It's the response, and effort in games following a game such as this that determine the quality and resilience of a team.  The Maple Leafs will look for a better effort, and result when they face the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Well, all good things must come to an end, and the Toronto Maple Leafs winning streak is over. The "bastard child" of all the New York based hockey teams, the New York Islanders halted our winning streak at four, with a 2 - 1 overtime victory. Phil Kessel scored the Leafs lone goal, late in the third to force OT.  The overtime result has given the Maple Leafs another streak to lay claim to.  The Blue and White are unbeaten in regulation time this season with a record of 4 - 0 - 1, with 9 points.  That my friends, is still the best record in the NHL!  Let's be honest, the Leafs deserved two points not just one.  We out played and out chanced the Islanders.  To put it simply, we were victimized by atrocious officiating.  Versteeg had a good goal that the ref deemed no good because he knocked it out of the air above the bar.  Bull$#it!  After  watching the replay, you can see that his stick wasn't too high, the goal was good. Then there was the penalty that wasn't called in OT, when Kulemin got hauled down by an Islander player.  Shortly there after, the zebra's call a debatable goaltender interference penalty on the Leafs.  Islanders goalie Dwayne Roloson went down with ease.  In fact, he looked like a seal flopping around in his net.  Evidently, it just wasn't our night.  I was at this game, and the atmosphere was great.  The best crowd reaction I've seen in six years.  Leaf fans are happy and excited again.  There is light,at the end of the tunnel.  As the old saying goes,  at least we got a point.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


The Toronto Maple Leafs have won their fourth straight game of the regular season.  In doing so, the Maple Leafs are off to their best start in 17 years.  Is this a case of deja vu of 1993?  Well I'll be damned if I'm going to be the one to jinx it by saying so, but these are fun times to be a Leafs fan. The Leafs didn't make the situation easy for themselves, as they gave up the first goal of the game for the first time this season.  A heavily screened Giguere allowed the first goal, affording the Rangers the lead, despite the Leafs domination of the period.  The Blue and White continued their domination in the second period, and scored three unanswered goals to gain the lead.  Clarke MacArthur tied it, after tapping in a shot that was seemingly sitting on the goal line.  The goal gives MacArthur five on the season.  He also holds the record as the first player as a Leaf to score a goal in all of the first four games of the season.  Mike Komisarek scored his first goal as a Leaf on a point shot, thanks to a pass from Phil Kessel.  Kessel then put the Leafs up by two after taking a beautiful pass from Tyler Bozak, and slipping it past an outstretched Lundqvist.  Complacency and a lackluster 5 on 3 attempt by Toronto allowed New York to tie the game in the third period.  A beautiful reactionary right pad save by Giguere, guaranteed that this game would need an extra period.  In the extra frame, Phil Kessel snapped a shot passed an unsuspecting Lundqvist on the power play to give the Leafs the 4 - 3 win.  Kessel's three point night, Giguere's willingness to battle through adversity, and relentless puck pursuit were the keys to victory in this contest. I will be in attendance as the fantasic four look to complete the drive for five Monday night versus the New York Islanders.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


It's been 11 years since the Leafs last won their first three games to start a season.  To add dramatic effect, let me put it another way.  The Leafs last won three games to start an NHL season, last century!  Last night the 2010-2011 Toronto Maple Leafs completed a hat - trick of sorts, going 3 - 0 to start the season.  As I write this, I still can't believe it! This win was a hard fought road win, as the Maple Leafs held off their toughest opponent to date, the Pittsburgh Penguins, by a score of 4 - 3.  Let's be honest, we knew we were destined to win this game when Colton Orr deflected a shot past Fleury to gain the 1- 0 lead. As a team, if you don't pounce on such a rare occurrence it would be a shame.  The Penguins capitalized on a shaky start by Gustavsson, to take a 2 -1 lead to end the first period.

The Blue and White found themselves behind in a game for the first time this season.  Have no fear, because Superman came to the rescue.  Yes Leafs Nation, Superman exists.  He's not from Krypton, he's not a mild mannered reporter, and he can't fly.  He's from Alberta, he's a hockey player, and he can score.  His name is Clarke MacArthur, and his two goals last night, give him four on the season, and propelled the Leafs to victory.  Francois Beauchemin also scored. For a team that many "experts" claimed would have trouble getting secondary scoring, it's interesting to note that all of the scoring last night came from the second and fourth line.  The other catalyst for the third consecutive win was goaltending.  It would be fitting, at least for one game to change Jonas Gustavsson's nickname from "the monster" to "Batman", because he certainly snuffed out he Penguins criminal plans to halt our winning ways.  Especially the cross crease pad save in the second, as well as the entirety of the third period.  The Toronto Maple Leafs will now face off against the NHL equivalent of a hemorrhoid, Sean Avery, when they play the New York Rangers on Friday night.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


This can't be real, can it?  The Toronto Maple Leafs are perfect to start the regular season, after winning their second straight game, this time against the Ottawa Senators. This feels like I'm either living inside a dream, like the movie Inception, or I'm living in an alternate universe, as seen on the television series Fringe. Either way, I'm staying asleep, or permanently moving to this alternate earth.  The Blue & White didn't simply beat their provincial rivals, they slaughtered them. In what seems to be a new trend, the Leafs scored two quick goals, jumping out to an early lead. Nikolai Kulemin was the beneficiary of some great fore checking by Mikhail Grabovski, and Clarke MacArthur, and just squeaked a goal past the opposing goal line. Phil Kessel pounced on a rebound of a Kris Versteeg shot, to bank his second goal of the season. To keep the trend of two's going, Clarke (Superman) MacArthur scored his second goal of the season, adding to the lead. Great puck movement on the power play finally paid off, as Tomas Kaberle pounded a shot towards the net that Versteeg deflected, for his first goal as a Maple Leaf. Persistence and video review gave Tim Brent his second goal of this young season.  Ottawa capitalized on a lucky bounce to put the final score at 5 - 1.  To put it simply, the Maple Leafs dominated this game.  They out shot the Sens 38 - 18, and made use of their special teams.  In the first 2 games, the team has gotten scoring production from its top three lines, been perfect on the penalty kill, played solid on defense, and have benefited from great goal tending.  Sure, it's early, but the team is sitting in first place in the National Hockey League standings.  Leafs Nation should be happy and relish in this dream like start, for however long it lasts. The Leafs will look to channel their inner Batman as they look to thwart the dastardly Penguins on Wednesday night.

Friday, October 8, 2010


Let's not plan any parade's just yet, because it was only one game, but the Toronto Maple Leafs started the regular season off right, by beating the Montreal Canadiens. Like every other Leafs/Habs battle it was a tight, intense affair, with the Blue and White holding on for a 3 - 2 win. The night started off strong even before the puck was dropped. The player introductions got me pumped up, followed by a rendition of the national anthem sung by the fans in attendance, which sent chills up my spine. That's how it should always be sung, forget about the stuffy old Irish opera singers that they always seem to use. The Leafs kept the good vibe going, by doing something that was almost unfathomable all of last year, scoring the first goal. It was a Price-less moment for Tim Brent, who tipped home a point shot from captain Dion Phaneuf. The goal marked Brent's first as a Leaf, and second of his NHL career.

In what felt like deja vu, Tyler Bozak sent Phil Kessel in on a breakaway where Kessel managed to just get the puck to cross the line, to give the Leafs a two goal advantage. Montreal cut the lead in half and the scoreline remained 2 - 1 heading into the final frame. Early in the third, new Leaf Clarke MacArthur scored a beautiful goal on the backhand, thanks to the skill full work of teammate Nikolai Kulemin. While the Leafs power play did not produce, and they committed far too many turnovers, the Leafs perfect penalty killing and superb goal tending secured two points on opening night. To quote Will Smith, J.S was "getting Giggy with it" all night long, stopping 26 shots, two of which were close range pad saves in the dieing seconds of the third period. On a side note, all Walmart stores in the province of Quebec have implemented their classic Roll Back campaign, in an effort to reduce Carey Price's goals against average. However, if that fails Fisher Price has offered the Montreal goaltender a job as their celebrity spokesperson. The company feels he is perfect for the job, as he will provide them more brand recognition, because Price is constantly fishing the puck out of his net. The Toronto Maple Leafs will look to continue building momentum when they face the Ottawa Senators, in the battle of Ontario on Saturday night.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


The Toronto Maple Leafs ended their pre -season against the Detroit Red Wings in a home and home affair.  Friday, the Leafs played poorly, with the exception of the top line.  A largely full NHL lineup for the Red Wings, was too powerful for the Maple Leafs penalty killing or young goaltender Jussi Rynnas, who was lit up in the 7 - 3 defeat.  Kris Versteeg was a wizard with the puck, as he set up Kessel's goal on the power play, as well as combining with Phil Kessel to set up Tyler Bozak for a one-timer in the slot.  On the Kessel power play goal, Versteeg took the puck on the half wall, circled the net and looked at all four other teammates before finding Phil Kessel.  Not once in the whole sequence did Versteeg look at the puck, he had his head up the entire time.  Mikhail Grabovski scored the third goal on a solo end to end  rush, in an otherwise un-inspired effort by the rest of the team.

The scene shifted to the Air Canada Centre for the rematch.  Detroit dressed mostly their AHL roster due to playing three games in as many nights, while the Leafs dressed what should be their opening night lineup, barring any unforeseen injuries. The usual suspects were key contributors for the Blue & White. Kessel had three assists, while Bozak and Versteeg both scored.  Clarke MacArthur scored the Leafs first goal of the game, on a beautiful setup by Grabovski, while Tomas Kaberle added some insurance on the way to a 4 - 2 win. Ron Wilson tried a new strategy on the power play by having Kaberle and Kessel at the points while captain Dion Phaneuf was parked in front of the net, screening the opposing net minder. The strategy was more then effective as three of the teams four goals came way of the man advantage.  The opening night roster is a few days from being officially announced, but I'd be shocked if it's drastically different from the team that took the ice Saturday night.  The Toronto Maple Leafs finished the pre - season with a winning record of  W- 5 L - 3 OT - 1, and will look to carry that winning momentum into the regular season, beginning Thursday October 7, 2010 at the Air Canada Centre, against our most hated rivals, the Montreal Canadiens. 


Thursday, September 30, 2010


The final game of the pre - season battle of Ontario was won by the Toronto Maple Leafs as they edged out a 4 - 3 victory over their provincial rivals. Both teams dressed almost complete NHL lineups, and the game had the physicality and animosity of a regular season match up. A big hit from Mike Komisarek on Daniel Alfredsson, and Francois Beauchemin using Alex Kovalev's big nose as a punching bag, set the tone for the Leafs. Kulemin and Kadri staked the Leafs to a two goal lead after one period of play, before Ottawa tied the game in the second period. The Sens then took the lead early in the third. Their one and only lead of the game would be short lived as Kadri took over in the third. The rookie scored the equalizer after making a beautiful move, and putting home his own rebound. Late in the third period of play the rookie showed great patience before setting up a point shot from Dion Phaneuf, that was deflected into the back of the net by Phil Kessel. Kadri responded well to the media pressure by scoring two goals, and adding an assist. It may be a case of too little too late, as Ron Wilson said that his spot on the team will be determined by his entire pre - season, not just one game. The Leafs went 5/5 on the penalty kill, and 3/9 on the power play, with J.S. Giguere making 22 saves in the winning effort. The Maple Leafs will close out the pre - season with a home and home set with the Red Wings, starting in Detroit on Friday at 7pm

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


This is a recording, the latest Toronto Maple Leaf pre-season two game set, this time with the Buffalo Sabres, saw both teams gain a victory. The Sabres gained the upper hand in the game in Buffalo with a 3 - 1 win.  That game featured a Sabres squad full of NHL talent, playing their first exhibition game, against a Leaf team that was playing their fifth game in five nights. The Leafs dressed one of their most inexperienced rosters to date, and had it not been for the goal tending of Jonas Gustavsson and Jussi Rynnas, the score would have been that much worse.  The only goal scorer for the Maple Leafs was Nikolai Kulemin, who scored on an offensive zone face-off after Grabovski won the draw.

I was in attendance for the second game at the Air Canada Centre, and saw my first live win in two seasons, as the Blue and White won a back and forth battle 5 - 4.  The Leafs line-up was very close to what we will see on opening night, and the Leafs top players made the difference. Kessel and Kulemin scored two goals each, while Christian Hanson notched his first goal of the pre-season.  I was really impressed with the top line of Versteeg, Bozak, and Kessel.  That line is a scoring threat with all three players capable of scoring.  Versteeg is something special with the puck on his stick.  I haven't seen a Maple Leafs first line of this quality since the days that Gary Roberts, Mats Sundin, and Alex Mogilny played together.  The second line was also solid with Kulemin, Grabovski, and MacArthur.  Kulemin will provide the goalscoring on this trio, with Grabovski being the playmaker(yes, he can actually pass the puck), and MacArthur doing the gritty work to get those two the puck.  I was also impressed with Luca Caputi, who is really making the most of this preseason, with his nightly effort in an attempt to make this team.  Mike Brown has been a pleasant surprise.  He won't score many goals, but he is tenacious, physical, and defensively conscientious on the penalty kill.  The Leafs will continue to trim the roster to its final form in the final three pre - season games starting Wednesday against the Ottawa Senators at 7:30pm 

Saturday, September 25, 2010


The Toronto Maple Leafs continued their pre-season with back to back games with the Philadelphia Flyers.  Like the two game set with Ottawa, this min pre-season series also saw the teams each win a game.  Both games required a shootout to decide a winner, with the Leafs taking the first game in London, and the Flyers taking game two in Toronto.  The first game saw Toronto battle back twice from one goal deficits to tie the game at 2 - 2. A marathon shootout went 11 rounds, before the Leafs came away with the win.  Colby Armstrong was the offensive hero, scoring the game equalising goal, and the shootout winner.  James Reimer was simply phenomenal during the game, in which he stopped all but one shot, and then stopped seven out of ten shots in the shootout.  Reimer, Armstrong, Versteeg, Brown and Richmond were the Maple Leafs best players.

In game two, the Blue & White dressed its most experienced NHL roster to date with Giguere playing the full sixty minutes.  For fifty minutes it looked like all that NHL talent was going to pay off, as the Maple Leafs held a 3 - 1 lead over the Flyers on goals from Versteeg, Kessel, and Phaneuf.  However, a combination of sitting back trying to protect the lead, and some bad bounces allowed Philadelphia to square the game at 3 - 3.  The Leafs had the game winner in overtime via Phil Kessel, but the goal was wrongfully disallowed due to poor referee positioning, and the unavailability to use video review in pre - season..  The Flyers capitalized on their opportunities in the shootout.  Despite the loss, the Leafs power play was once again potent, and their penalty killing was formidable.  The Toronto Maple Leafs are back in action again, this time in a back to back battle with their QEW rivals the Buffalo Sabres, starting tonight at 7pm on LEAFS TV.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Leafs Split Pre - Season Battle of Ontario With Sens!

The pre - season is a go and started off with a back to back battle of Ontario with the Sens. At first glance, fans may assume that this team will once again have that "Jekyll and Hyde" persona that has plague the team in recent years. Despite the two different results in the first two outings, that would be an unfair assessment. The first game saw a plethora of minor league talent and rookies, interspersed with what I would consider a mere 7 bonafide NHL players. I am not one to make excuses for this team, but a lack of experience and cohesiveness, had a hand in the 5 - 0 defeat. The Leafs were abysmal on the power play going 0/8. They squandered two five on three opportunities, both over a minute in length, and had no structure, with most of their shots being blocked or going hopelessly wide. In game two, the Maple Leafs lineup boasted eleven NHL regulars and the results showed. The power play scored all four Leaf goals in the 4 - 1 victory. Kulemin, Kessel, Caputi, and Grabovski all got their names on the score sheet, and the penalty kill was flawless. The rookie goal tending tandem James Reimer and Ben Scrivens, did their part to halt any Ottawa scoring threats.

Here are some of my very early first impressions. Nazem Kadri is simply trying to do too much. He needs to settle down, relax and play his game. Don't get caught in the media hype proclaiming you the "saviour" of this franchise. Get back to basics. Kris Versteeg and Colby Armstrong were the only two forwards who showed any jump in the Leafs opening game, and may prove to be phenomenal signings by Burke. Phil Kessel looks to be in mid season form already. Last night he seemed faster then before, and every time he had the puck, he was a scoring threat. If this trend continues 40 goals is a very real possibility from him this year. It seems to me that the Leafs may finally have some depth in net and are in good shape for years to come. Finally, young Jesse Blacker for the last couple of years is proving to be a solid d -man. At 19 years old, he rarely seems to make a bad decision, and in his first pre-season game this season recorded two assists. A few years down the line he could be an integral part of the teams top six defensive lineup. Pre - season continues tonight as the Maple Leafs play the first part of a back to back set with the Philadelphia Flyers.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Training Camp Begins!

The Leafs mini 3 game rookie tournament has come to a close. The Leafs lost their final game against the Senators due to penalty trouble, despite getting goals from key prospects Bradley Ross and Jerry D'Amigo, which put them in the lead heading to the third period. Now that hockey's equivalent of kindergarten is over, it's time for everything to get serious. 63 players have been invited to training camp. All of those 63 individuals have the same goal, to make the cut for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Realistically, this is an impossibility. A large portion will be sent back to their junior clubs, hoping to have at least gained some insight for next time. Others will fill the roster of the AHL affiliate Toronto Marlies. After all, only 23 men are eligible to call themselves Toronto Maple Leafs. It is in that quest for the final 23, that questions are raised, and need to be answered.

Three major quires are nagging me as training camp gets underway. First is on defense. With 8 NHL ready d-men, and five of six spots seemingly spoken for, who fills that final spot? Gunnarsson or Lebda? Will the team dress seven defense men to accommodate both? My second question is in regards to the centre position? Specifically, which players will fill the top two centre roles? Tyler Bozak, Nazem Kadri, Mikhail Grabovski, and Marcel Mueller are the main contenders for the top two spots. For that matter, who will be our bottom two line centres. That position could be filled by any number of candidates including Christian Hanson, John Mitchell, and Brayden Irwin? The question on every Leaf fans mind is what the line combinations will look like come opening night? That answer will be known on opening night, but the answers to the other questions, will be revealed throughout the pre-season, which begins on Tuesday night when the Toronto Maple Leafs take on the Ottawa Senators.

Monday, September 13, 2010


Game two of the Toronto Maple Leafs three game rookie tournament against the Pittsburgh Penguins yielded a far different result then the first contest. The Leafs' rookies were outplayed in all three periods and with the exception of spurts of solid puck control, couldn't match the effort of the Penguins. The Maple Leafs were without their top prospect Nazem Kadri due to a hip injury and their only offence came in the form of Brayden Irwin. Irwin was signed out of college late last season by the club and played in two regular season games for the Maple Leafs. The 6'5 215lbs Toronto native was the best player on the ice for the Maple Leafs. He played in every situation and placed a beautiful shot past the Penguins net minder to put Toronto up 1 - 0 after the first period. While Irwin is not the fastest skater known to man, he posses a fantastic shot, and uses his size well to win puck battles. With a little more tutelage in the AHL Brayden Irwin could be a solid addition to the big club in the near future.

The other player who made an impact despite the loss was another college signing, goaltender Ben Scrivens. Scrivens stopped 32 out of 34 shots directed his way, and despite being beaten in the last minute of the game, kept the Leafs in touch with some big saves throughout the contest. Were it not for him, the score would have gotten out of hand in the Penguins favour. He definitely merits serious consideration for Marlies net minding duty. The Toronto Maple Leafs will close out this rookie tournament against their provincial rival Ottawa Senators Tuesday night at 7pm on Rogers TV.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Can you sense it? That slight chill in the air? That is a sure sign that hockey season is upon us. Actually, it's already here. The Toronto Maple Leafs annual Rookie tournament got underway last night against the rookies of the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks. Sure wins and losses don't count, and no points are awarded for the victory, but the young Leafs started the tournament in style with a 6 - 3 win. For a team that had nothing to do in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft this year, the Leafs scouts were looking pretty smart last night, as the top 3 picks of the 2010 draft scored Toronto's first three goals. Brad Ross and Sondre Olden put the Leafs up 2 - 0 early in the contest, and then Greg McKegg scored a highlight reel goal to restore the Leafs two goal lead to 3 - 1. Rounding out the scoring en route to the three goal victory were Jerry D'Amigo, Kenny Ryan, and Simon Gysbers. Goaltender Jussi Rynnas played his first ever North American hockey game, and despite an understandably shaky first period, was very solid in the final 2 periods stopping a total of 31 shots. Most of these young players are eligible to return to their junior teams, and are likely to do so, but all put in a great effort in their first outing wearing the Maple Leafs sweater. Two players who really impressed, and are likely to start the season with the Marlies are Simon Gysbers, and Jerry D'Amigo. At 6'4 and 200lbs Gysbers looked like a tower out on the ice and was very solid on the defensive side of the puck, while also chipping in offensively with 2 assists. Jerry D'Amigo showed speed, grit, tenacity, and some great hand eye co-ordination with his tip in goal. With his effort it is no wonder why Leafs management is so keen on this kid. The Maple Leafs rookies will skate back into action tonight against the youngsters of the Pittsburgh Penguins at 7pm on Rogers TV.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Deal or No Deal?....NO DEAL! a(5)

It's been almost 2 months since the no movement clause for Tomas Kaberle became null and void for a brief window of time. Well, that window was slammed shut as of midnight on Sunday, and ironically there was no movement involving Tomas Kaberle! I like Tomas Kaberle. He's a top two d-man to be sure, so him still being here is not a bad thing. I am not blaming him for this long saga that amounted to absolutely nothing. No, for that the blame falls on Brian Burke, the media, and every one's favourite village idiot, John Ferguson Jr.

Brian Burke has made some very intelligent moves to improve this hockey club. After all he unloaded three of the most useless hockey players ever to wear the Blue & White and got a Stanley Cup winning goalie in J.S. Giguere and a superstar defenseman and our captain Dion Phaneuf. That deal makes him a superhero of sorts. However, with this Kaberle situation, he looks like a court jester. First off was the bull$#it line that, "We are not actively shopping Tomas, but we'll listen to offers. That's a lie and everyone knew it. I mean you almost traded him for Kessel a year ago! Nice way to create a bidding war that ultimately failed. Then two days before the window closes Burke advises a Toronto newspapers that there are "4 legitimate offers that the club had to consider" in regards to Kaberle. Great so something seemed to be in the offing. Then, the morning of K -day, as so many un-cleaverly called it, Burke told another reporter that, "If these offers are all we get...he's staying put." What about those 4 "legitimate offers you mentioned 24 hours earlier? Which is it? You can't have your cake and eat it too. When midnight hit, Kaberle remained a Leaf, and Burke said he was " pleased that there is a resolution." I wonder if Burke will be as pleased when Kaberle refuses to waive his NTC at the trade deadline, and walks away from the team as a free agent next summer, as I believe he will. Burke missed an opportunity with this one, and were I in his shoes, I would have taken the best offer available as the final hour drew to a close. After all, isn't something better then the eventual nothing at that point?

The Kaberle saga was made even more laughable by the media, specifically one particular website. This particular website revolves around creating HOCKEY BUZZ regarding trades and player signings. This Kaberle fiasco teaches a valuable lesson. That lesson being, that any @$$#OLE with access to a computer, and an Internet connection can claim to be a hockey insider, post bull$#it rumors and make themselves appear to be a credible source of information. For the past 2 months the site's founder and CEO has been posting countless updates on his blog regarding Kaberle. Ranging from, "This is the week Kaberle gets traded," to "I am 99.9% certain that Kaberle is moved before the deadline", or "Sharks closest to Deal for Kaberle." Daily he would update the blog with information from his so-called "sources" often listing LA, Boston, or San Jose as likely destinations for Kaberle. He even has a rating system which supposedly validates the reported trade or signing. The first letter of his pseudonym is prescribed a number from 1 - 5. 1 being the lowest 5 being the highest. My only problem with this rating system is that it doesn't validate any of his claims. It simply illustrates that the individual knows his alphabet and can count to five. Wow! Welcome to pre-school! I've illustrated how pointless it is by mockingly using it in my title. Look, I'm sure he's been right on some deals in the past, and possibly even broken a few deals ahead of time. However, as the saying goes, if you throw enough $#i+ against the wall some of it's bound to stick. For my money the site and its mysterious founder specializes in leading people on, in an effort to gain more website hits. I'll get my hockey news from trusted and reliable NHL insiders like Darren Dreger and Bob McKenzie thank you very much.

Before I attempt to put the Kaberle fiasco to rest, I'd like to thank John Ferguson Jr. For without his sheer idiocy and penchant for handing out NTC's like their Halloween candy, the Leafs may have been a constant playoff team, or at the very least been able to trade players like Kaberle, and Sundin for value, instead of being left with nothing and a six year playoff drought to show for it. More to come...

Friday, July 2, 2010

Need a Top 6 Forward? Don't SWEATT It, Leafs Land Versteeg!

The NHL's free agency period opened on Canada day. Brian Burke has been telling everyone who will listen, that the Toronto Maple Leafs would be active during this period. Unlike his predecessor, Burke didn't disappoint. He has long stated that the Leafs would be addressing their needs of filling in their top six, and bottom six forwards. The Leafs GM didn't waste any time in filling in a spot in the top six portion of the lineup. Thursday evening Burke engineered a five player deal with the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks. Headed to Chicago, are forwards Viktor Stalberg, Phillippe Paradis, and Chris Di Domenico. In return, the Leafs receive forwards Kris Versteeg and Bill Sweatt.

This is a fantastic deal for the Blue and White because essential Burke has given up three AHL players, for a proven NHL second liner, who is still young. Sure, Stalberg has great speed and showed flashes that he could be a top liner in the NHL someday, but Versteeg has already proven that he is such a player. Phillippe Paradis will probably turn out to be a third line/grinder NHL'er at best. The only player I'm somewhat sorry to see go is Chris Di Domenico. He had a great showing with Team Canada at the World Juniors a couple years ago. However, he did suffer an injury that took him out of action for a long period of time, so there is always that risk involved.
In Versteeg the Leafs get a versatile player who can play all three forward position, can score, and play on both sets of special teams. In 170 career NHL games Versteeg has 44 goals, 57 assists, for a total of 101 points. Keep in mind, this is a player that, due to Chicago's tremendous talent and depth, was relegated to third line minutes. In Bill Sweatt the Leafs get a young prospect that the TSN panel was thoroughly impressed with. Burke describes the young player as speedy, having soft hands, and someone who's not afraid to hit. The 21 year old forward completed 4 college seasons, where he compiled 109 points in 143 games.

The Leafs dipped into the free agent market on opening day and strengthened their bottom six compliment as well, by signing free agent forward Colby Armstrong to a three year contract worth a cumulative $9 million. Colby Armstrong is your proto-typical Brian Burke player, and was described by some TSN analysts, as one of the best third line players in the NHL. The 27 year old forward can hit with the best of them, is good for 15 - 20 goals a season, and can play on the penalty kill. He's even capable of playing second line minutes, should the necessity arise. Personally, when I think of Colby Armstrong. I have flashbacks to Darcy Tucker. In 360 NHL regular season games Armstrong has 178 points, and a +/- rating of 32.

The latest moves made by general manager Brian Burke, have already improved the Maple Leafs as we forge towards the regular season. More additions are on the way, as Burke looks to add another top six forward, and a top line centre to compliment Phil Kessel. One thing is certain, in a sport played with a puck, Brian Burke clearly has a set of b@11$ and he's willing to do whatever necessary to make the Toronto Maple Leafs a winner again.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Lackluster Draft!

The 2010 NHL Entry Draft has come and gone, and it was a rather boring affair from a Leafs standpoint. But, did we expect anything less, since the Leafs weren't slotted to make a pick until the third round? Everyone knows why we didn't have a pick in the first couple rounds, so I'm not going to rehash it. The Leafs did make a trade to move up in the draft and chose forward Bradley Ross with the 43 selection overall. Ross said he is a lifelong fan of the blue and white, and models his game after Darcy Tucker. For a look at the Leafs other selections, check out the Leafs official website for in depth coverage. Heading into the draft weekend, rumors abound with Kaberle trade talks. I'm shocked to tell you that Tomas Kaberle is still a Leaf (read with sarcasm for full effect) Apparently, Burke said there were three offers management considered, and described a fourth offer as an insult. So, from the abundant 10 offers the media speculated on, there were actually 3. I appreciate that Burke is holding out for the best return for Tomas Kaberle, but I caution him; if you're hoping to get a guy that can walk on water, there's only one person who has been credited with such ability, and last I checked, he didn't play hockey. Leaf Nation doesn't need a person who can walk on water, just one who can skate on a frozen pond. And if said individual can perform minor miracles with a stick, all the better....(cough Jordan Staal cough)

Speaking of trade speculation, sources indicate that the Boston Bruins are looking to trade centre Marc Savard. Marc Savard has a no trade stipulation in his contract, but is willing to waive his no trade for either the Ottawa Senators or Toronto Maple Leafs. According to reports, any transaction between the Bruins/Leafs regarding Savard would NOT involve Kaberle, but possibly Nikolai Kulemin or Mikhail Grabovski instead. This would be a good thing as Kulemin is a restricted free agent who's agent is asking for far to much money. Kulemin is a good two-way player who played on the first line, out of necessity. His grand total of 31 points is nowhere near deserving of a first liners paycheck. Trading a player with a potential upside, for a proven top six forward is a smart move if Burke can swing it. Sure, Savard is 32, and suffered a concussion last season. Let's remember though, that every good team has a skilled veteran to mentor the teams youth, and not every player who suffered a concussion will turn out like Eric Lindros. Besides, when Savard and Phil Kessel were line mates in Boston, the pair had more chemistry then Romeo and Juliet. In their last season together, the dynamic duo posted a combined 148 points. Need I say more?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Leafs Launch Season Versus Rivals!

In the midst of all those Kaberle rumors floating around, official news has surfaced from the Toronto Maple Leafs. No, Tomas Kaberle hasn't been traded...yet, but the team has officially released the schedule for the 2010-2011 season. In a repeat of last year's season opener, the Leafs will face off against their historically hated enemies the Montreal Canadiens, or as I like to call them, the NHL's version of Garden Gnomes on skates. Two nights later we battle our provincial rivals the Ottawa Senators.....a.k.a. the official spokes-team for Trojan Condoms. For the rest of the schedule visit Let's hope the strong finish last season carries over to this new campaign, and Leaf Nation won't have to wait until the end of October for the teams first win. They say hope springs eternal. Hopefully this season, hope will last all 82 games and beyond, instead of fading away in December. Let the countdown begin!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Leafs Go Back to the Future & Name New Captain!

It was a historic day for the Toronto Maple Leafs yesterday on two fronts. The team unveiled a new jersey that the team will wear this coming season. When the hockey club hits the ice for the 2010-2011 season, what's old will be new again. Brian Burke and Ron Wilson said that with the new sweaters the team is looking to return to its roots, and by the looks of things, mission accomplished. The jersey's feature a string and a collar. Also the shade of blue seems to be slightly darker then in recent years. The two stripes at the bottom of the jersey have made a return and there are also two stripes on the sleeves. Also back by popular demand is the vintage Leaf logo on both shoulders, while the lettering and numbering has gone back to a standard format, rather then the outlined letters and numbering. With this "new" design the franchise has clearly gone back to the future and spliced together elements from the 1967 and 1993 sweaters. I'd say if we're trying to recapture the glory of yesterday, those are definitely the years of success to strive for. All that's left is to hop into the DeLorean, fire up the flux capacitor, grab Dave Keon, Johnny Bower, Doug Gilmour and Wendel Clark, from their respective era's and Stanley, here we come. The sweaters are classy, elegant, and embody the tradition that is synonymous with this franchise. The only question is, do I get a Phil Kessel or a Dion Phaneuf?

Speaking of Dion Phaneuf, the worst kept secret in hockey was made official. As the Leafs revealed their new attire, they announced Dion Phaneuf as the 18th captain in team history. This is a title that has been vacant for two years, since Mats "Poker Star" Sundin, decided to be a hypocrite, go on a 6 month vacation, return for a short, and fruitless playoff stint with Vancouver before retiring. Quite frankly, the franchise was right to hold off on naming a captain,
because up until now, there was no one who stood out as captain material. Being the captain of the Maple Leafs is a tremendous honour, that comes with great responsibility. To follow in the footsteps of some of the great legends of the past is a daunting task.

A captain needs to lead by example, on and off the ice. He needs to have an incredible work ethic, and positive attitude. When the team is struggling, he's going to have to carry this team on his back, willing them to victory. He will need to mentor those who are struggling, and share success when it finally starts to bubble to the surface. That's why Dion Phaneuf was the right choice. From the moment he arrived in town, he took charge. He brought an energy, enthusiasm, and winning attitude to a team that found ways to loose. His hard-hitting, no nonsense style, spread through the team. Dion Phaneuf's arrival was a major contribution to establishing a winning culture. Since the trade, the team maintained a winning record, that if averaged over a season puts us in the playoffs.

I find it fitting that George Armstrong, Darryl Sittler, and Wendel Clark were all present for the announcement. Arguably three of the greatest Leaf captains of all time. I believe Dion Phaneuf could join that trio. Will he be the first captain since George Armstrong to lift the Stanley Cup? Time will tell. One thing is certain, Leaf Nation has a leader. We are ready to follow, hopefully to be lead out of this long and barren wilderness, back to the promise land.

Where's Kabby?

Am I the only one feeling a sense of déjà vu? I mean seriously, Leaf fans have been hearing Tomas Kaberle trade rumours for the better part of two summers now. Well, I say enough already. Get it done! I don’t want to be sitting here next summer, hearing Tomas Kaberle trade rumours, for two reasons. First, if I’m still hearing them a year from now, it means Brian Burke will have failed to accomplish one of his goals for this off-season. More importantly, it will mean my beloved Leafs have missed the playoffs again for a seventh straight year. Emotionally, I just can’t take that. Over the last week or so I’ve read so many trade rumours regarding Tomas Kaberle, that I can’t keep track of them all. Forget the “Where’s Waldo” children books, someone should write a “Where’s Kabby” book. It would be a best seller. So with all this talk, this is the year it happens right? Here’s my take on some of the chatter I’ve read:

Tomas Kaberle and either Luke Schenn or Nazem Kadri to Anaheim for Bobby Ryan. There would most likely be more elements to a potential trade with Anaheim, because there’s no way they do a straight up Kaberle for Ryan deal. As far as I’m concerned they can have Kaberle and Schenn. Hell Burke might even throw in the John Deer tractor Luke Schenn rode in on for his first training camp. Anaheim can have anyone else off of our roster with the exception of Phaneuf and Kessel. Burke needs to leave Kadri out of any trade combination. Sure, I’ll admit I had no clue who Nazem Kadri was on draft day last year. I remember having a beer in my hand, Kadri’s name being called, and thinking, “Chi cazzo e questo stronzo!?” Boy was I wrong. Kadri had a stunning year in the OHL last year, and looks to be one of the most promising draft choices the Leafs have made in years. He’s a keeper and I do not see a trade with Anaheim working with Kadri involved.

Tomas Kaberle and Viktor Stalberg to Pittsburgh for Jordan Staal and a 2nd or 3rd round draft pick. This is my favourite of the trade rumours. It makes sense for both teams. Pittsburgh will most likely loose Sergei Gonchar in the off-season and will be looking for an offensive defenseman to fill the void. The Leafs are in desperate need of a top line centre, and make no mistake, that is exactly what Jordan Staal is. On a majority of the NHL clubs, Staal would find himself on the top line. However, the Penguins have more depth than most teams dream of, so Staal is relegated to third line. But that’s the best thing about Staal, he is a complete player, and can do it all. In Stalberg Pittsburgh would get a speedy winger with tremendous potential. Even the math supports this trade. Kaberle + Stalberg – the berg + a = Staal. Take that Einstein!

Other scuttlebutt I’ve come across would send Kaberle and Grabovski to Washington for Alexander Semin and their third goalie. This sounds farfetched to me because I don’t see Washington dispensing with one of their top offensive threats, for an offensive defensemen, one of which they already have, and a mediocre centre. Another has Kaberle off to Buffalo, with Toronto getting Drew Stafford. Drew Stafford is basically Matt Stajan with more hair on his head, yeah, no thanks.

I like Tomas Kaberle. He’s been a good player for us and served us well for the past 12 seasons. If the Leafs were in a better position as a franchise, I would say we were crazy for thinking of trading him. At $4.25 million with one year left on his contract, he’s a steal for a player of his calibre. The fact is, the Phaneuf trade makes Kaberle expendable. Not to mention, he’s really the only bankable asset Brian Burke has to offer other teams. For a player who has almost been traded twice, I think the time is now.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Boy & His Hockey Team

For my first blog, I thought I’d give everyone an understanding of why I’m such a die-hard Leafs fan. Lord knows it’s not their sparkling winning percentage, precise penalty killing, or excellent drafting. Over the last 5 years this team has been abysmal, and a disgrace to the franchise and its history. Yet, I still love my Leafs, and here’s why...

What is it that inspires ones fandom in a sports team? Is it a matter of geography? Simply a situation of following the team that represents the location of where one lives? Is it because of an admiration for the skill of a player, or players? Is fandom based on the colour and logo on the jersey? Or does the franchises history and legacy factor into the equation? There is no definitive answer to this question, as all of these reasons could be a plausible explanation for ones admiration for a hockey team. However, there are cases when a hockey team carries more meaning for someone that goes deeper then any of the “superficial” reasons listed above, and this is one of those stories.

In April of 1967, a 19 year old boy, his parents, and younger sister travel from a suburb of Pescara in Italy to Toronto Ontario in Canada. Eventually, only the young teenager would remain in Canada to start a family of his own. Upon arriving to Toronto, the boy and his family took a taxi cab to his uncle’s house, and over the next several weeks the crowded household would sit around a television and watch something magical transpire. The family watched as the Toronto Maple Leafs would make an unexpected run at hockey’s most prized trophy and eventually win the Stanley Cup, defeating their rivals, the Montreal Canadiens. At the time, the young teenager from Italy didn’t realized that what he’d witnessed was a historic moment on two fronts. First off, it would be the last time the Maple Leafs have won Lord Stanley’s cup. Secondly, the young Italian had no way of knowing that, decades later, the team he had watched win hockey’s greatest prize would ignite a passion in his youngest son. It seems as though this unborn child was destined to become an avid follower of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Several blocks away from his future father, the yet to be born child’s eventual mother would watch the same historic event unfold with her father.

Flash forward to 1989. The young Italian teenager is now a man, married with three children. The man, his wife, and two eldest children are out and the couple’s youngest son, at the age of six, is under the care and supervision of his mother’s father. The elderly man sits with his grandson, and the two watch a broadcast of Hockey Night in Canada. Once again, the forever rivals Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens engage in battle. At such a tender age, the young boy didn’t understand the details of the game he was watching, all he new was that he was spending quality time with his "Nonno". The boy was happy and that’s all that mattered. For the next couple years the boy looked forward to Saturday nights. That was the night Nonno would watch hockey with him.

Those joyous nights once a week with Nonno would come to an abrupt halt in 1992, because the boy’s grandfather had passed away. When the boy, now eight years old, was told of his grandfathers death, he was devastated. His world had been shaken, changed forever. He couldn’t reconcile why his Nonno was gone and resented God for not answering his prayers of and giving him his grandfather back. It was as though someone ripped the boy’s heart from his chest and thrown it against a brick wall. The boy was emotionally wounded and friends nor family could heal those wounds. For most of the summer of 1992, the boy cried himself to sleep at night.

That fall, the young boy started watching hockey more attentively. He remembered those nights watching games with his grandfather and watching the team that his grandfather followed gave him some comfort. The Toronto Maple Leafs had an incredible season that year, and in the spring would embark on a miraculous playoff run. The young child got so wrapped up in the excitement of it all. For him, watching that playoff run was almost like a time machine. Every time he watched a game during that spring, in his minds eye he’d recall those nights he spent watching the Leafs with his grandfather. For three hours the boy was happier then he’d been in a long while because it felt as though his grandfather was right there next to him on the sofa watching the games with him.

His grandfather and great uncle, who passed away two years later, watched as Leaf legends Dave Keon, George Armstrong, and Johnny Bower led a Leaf team that had been written off by the media achieve great success. Almost three decades later the boy was seemingly carrying on a family tradition as he watched new Leaf stars Wendel Clark, Doug Gilmour, and Felix Potvin carry a Maple Leafs team to improbable success as well.

The boy watched with elation as the underdog Leafs beat the heavily favoured Detroit Red Wings in a thrilling seventh game overtime victory, which saw rookie Nikolai Borshevsky re-direct a point shot by defenseman Bob Rouse pass the Detroit net minder. A mere two days later the boy, up way past his bed time, watched in euphoria as Doug Gilmour weaved his brilliance behind the St. Louis net and slipped a puck passed an unsuspecting Curtis Joseph to end a game one marathon in double overtime. Unfortunately, a couple weeks later the dream of a return to Stanley Cup glory ended in a controversial fashion. A cover up that saw an evil official dressed in his Zebra attire, with his annoyingly well-done hairstyle, protect the then NHL golden boy, dubbed “The Great One” from certain exclusion from a pivotal moment in the game. “The Great One” would eventually win the series, ending the Maple Leafs season and squashing the dream of a Stanley Cup final between the Maple Leafs and Canadiens. The young boy was sad again, shedding several tears. His team was finished for the year. However, the boy learned an important lesson that summer. Nothing really ever comes to an end. The Toronto Maple Leafs would live to play another day in the fall, and his grandfather would be with him forever as long as he kept the memories of their time together alive in his heart.

The boy has since grown into a man, and throughout the years his attachment to the Toronto Maple Leafs has grown ever stronger. He’s enjoyed the highs and lows of following this team, but his support has never wavered. He was paid the highest of compliments when his mother once remarked that when he watched the Leafs he reminded her of his grandfather and great uncle. Some cynics and detractors may view this level of fandom as an obsession. If that is the case, then I am obsessed. I was that boy, and this is my story. For me, my love affair with the Toronto Maple Leafs is not just about where I live, or the players, or the jersey, or just wins and losses. It’s so much more then that. My fandom is about a family tradition, a constant connection to the loved ones I’ve lost and friends, who I value a great deal, that share my excitement for this team. As I sit here over 4600 miles away from home, admiring the mountains in the distance reflecting on my admiration for this hockey team, one thing is certain, being a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs is indeed, the passion that unites us all.