Sports by Randy Charles Morin.
Copyright 2005-10 Randy Charles Morin
Owned by Rapid Spiral Development Inc.
There was 3 scenarios today of game results that would've required a game 163, but none of them materialized. That would've been weird having 3 game 163s.
The 1st place Orioles, having already made the playoffs, threw Derek Jeter (right-handed batter) an outside batting practice fastball while playing their 2nd baseman directly behind 2nd to hold the runner. WTF!? This resulted in Jeter getting his 7th walk off hit of his career, his last game at Yankee stadium. It was the only walk off hit of his career where the other team won the division (obviously not a stupid team) while playing a hall of fame slap hitter to pull the ball. Unrelated, it's really easy for a hall of fame slap hitter to hit a batting practice outside fastball to where the 2nd baseman should be standing.
Toronto sports teams should be embarrassed. The ownership group mostly includes Bell, Rogers, Bell and Rogers. Go Leafs Go!
|James Van Riemsdyk||Tyler Bozak||Phil Kessel|
|Mason Raymond||Nazam Kadri||Joffrey Lupul|
|Nikolai Kulemin||Dave Bolland||Carter Ashton|
|Jay McClement||Colton Orr|
|Frazer McLaren||David Clarkson|
|Carl Gunnarson||Dion Phaneuf|
|Paul Ranger||Jake Gardiner|
|Morgan Rielly||Cody Franson|
David Clarkson is suspended for 10 games. I'm guessing that Lupul will move back to LW, Raymond down to 3rd line and Kulemin back to RW when Clarkson returns as the 2nd line RW.
McLaren currently has a broken finger. McLaren will slot in on the 4th line when he returns.
Assuming he clears waivers, John Michael Liles can be called up at any time when he fits into the salary cap. If Rielly is sent down to juniors, then Liles fits in. If Ashton Cater is sent down, then Liles fits in, but they would be carrying 8 d-men. If Ranger is sent down, then Liles fits in.
Update: I don't understand why you would keep Ranger over Liles. I assume, if Liles is claimed, then the Leafs bring up one more forward. Otherwise, Liles is kept on the team and Ranger is sent down.
A series by series predictions for the 1st round of the Stanley Cup playoffs and a glimpse into the next 3 rounds. The NHL playoffs since the 2004-05 lockout has been a unpredictable beast. You make the playoffs on the last day of the regular season and you find your way to the Stanley Cup finals. What makes a good regular season team is clearly not what makes a good playoff team. Here's my sense of what might happen this playoff season.
The Minnesota Wild have badly underperformed and scratched their way into a playoff spot. That said, a hot goalie and some timely scoring might give them a chance. But goaltending and scoring have not been their forte this season. They do have some grit with Cal Clutterbuck, but on the whole this team is soft. Not a recipe for winning the Lord Stanley's mug. An underdog to win a series and a longshot to win it all.
And the Wild are playing the recent Stanley Cup winning Chicago Blackhawks. The Hawks are loaded with talent; Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane. Their was the question of goaltending at the start of the season, but Corey Crawford has been great. The consensus is that the Hawks are the team to beat in the West.
This isn't the Red Wings we knew in years past. There's no Nicklas Lidstrom. End of story. It's just not the same team.
The Ducks have been an off-and-on team for years with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. They even won a Stanley Cup a few years back. I don't think this team has the depth to make it far in the playoffs, but I do think they have enough to handle the Wings. Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne are getting older by the day.
For the 1st time in a long while, the Sharks aren't expected to do anything this playoff. They're suppose to boy out to the much better Canucks. And with perenial non-playoff performers like Joe Thornton, they have every excuse. But remember, they are very deep in talent and someday, if Joe is willing, they might surprise in the playoffs. And don't forget, that's a Cup winning goalie between the pipes; Anti Niemi.
The Canucks are very much like the Sharks of a few years ago. Some playoff success, but everybody expected so much more. And because of injury, they'll be starting the playoffs with long-time playoff disappointment Roberto Luongo in net. Whichever team loses this series, will cement their reputation as playoff losers.
An extremely talented team that should have little problem taking care of the Blues. But I'm not sure a team led by the party boys (Jeff Carter and Mike Richards) can make it two years in a row. I'm thinking the hangover from last summer hasn't quite warn off yet.
The Blues are... well... a blue colar team. No stars and a lot of names even I don't recognize. Just a lot of hard work. Their goaltending load was split between three goalies. It's very rare that teams with no talent advance in the playoffs.
The worst run organization in the NHL made the playoffs on the back of their one superstar John Tavares. That's about as far as they'll get. I doubt they could handle an injury riddled Penguins lineup in a seven game series. And the Pens are getting healthy.
The Canadiens are looking back between the pipes and putting their faith in Carey Price. A career 8-15 playoff record. This might be Price's last chance. If he falters again, then the fans in Montreal might start calling for a change.
I really liked the makeup of the Rangers at the start of the season. Things didn't go as expect and the team was rebuilt mid-season. Mid-season of an already short season. Henrik Lundqvist could put the team on his back lead them thru a few playoff rounds, but I doubt it. Teams rebuilt mid-season rarely go anywhere in the playoffs.
Alex Ovechkin is on fire and we're heading into the playoffs. This team is gonna live and die on his stick. I don't see much problem dispensing the Rangers. Then... in the 2nd round, it's OV time or bust.
As a long-time Leafs fan, what a relief. Playoff games. Everything sits on James Reimer's shoulders. They're a tough and fast team that can score. Can they keep the puck out of the net? Reimer did it all year.
The Bruins are either the toughest team in the playoffs or the 2nd toughest. And the Leafs are either the toughest or 2nd. Expect a lot of hitting. Fighting. Injuries. Whomever wins is likely gonna get beat the next round anyway. This is war.
Here are my choices with a couple games left in the NHL season for the individual award winners. In a couple cases, my choice is partial based on the assumption that the team will or will not make the playoffs and if that changed, then my opinion would change. But I doubt it. You'll find my choices a little different that the conventional people who think they know hockey.
Had Craig Anderson not been injurred, his sneeking the Senators in the playoffs with a 1.71 GAA and .941 SV% would've won him the Hart, but I can't give it to a goalie that only played half the season? Can I? Without Anderson's heroics early in the season, this injury riddled team could very well be competing for the 1st overall pick in this summers entry draft instead of being in the playoff race. Still, I can't believe
How about a forward that played only 3 quarters of the season? Sidney Crosby was still leading the NHL in scoring and 2nd in assists with 3 games left in the season. His linemates are #1 and #2 in the plus-minus leaders (he's currently 4th) and he's in the top 15 in faceoff wins.
Can you give it to two forwards, Martin St Louis and Steve Stamkos, who may win the Art Ross for most points while leading their team to a lottery pick instead of a playoff spot? These two players rank last and 2nd last on their team in plus-minus for forwards. This isn't new territory for this pair. These are two players that I would absolutely not consider for the Hart. In fact, I doubt this team will ever make the playoffs until they break up their core group of offensive players who don't skate in their defensive zone.
Alex Ovechkin is by far the Hart winner in the 2nd half of the season, but is that enough to overcome a very bad start? Remember 2 months ago when everybody was saying OV was washed up? Now he's gonna win yet another Rocket Richard trophy and is a prime candidate for the Hart as well.
Other players I would consider voting for are Ryan Getzlaf, Jonathan Toews and John Tavares. All four elevated their teams to new heights this season, but none stood out as much as Crosby or Ovechkin.
Winner: Sidney Crosby
Let me start by repeating the same argument that Craig Anderson would've won here too had he not been injured.
That said, people are starting to talk about Sergei Bobrovsky as the prime candidate for the Vezina. And I agree. Without Bobrovsky, the Blue Jackets would not be in the playoff picture.
I'm also gonna make a case for another goalie that took a team that hasn't made the playoffs in a decade into the playoffs this season; James Reimer. In the game that clinched the playoffs for the Leafs, they were outshot 50 to 22 by the Senators, yet won the game 4-1 on 49 saves by Reimer. Getting outshot isn't a rarity in Toronto these days (years).
Winner: Sergei Bobrovsky.
He's hated, just as much as he's loved, but this year he became a true all-star and Norris candidate; P.K. Subban. He hits hard, he leads all d-men in goals and points and has a nice plus-minus to boot.
How about Brooks Orpik? If he could only score. But how about 10th in hits and 6th in blocked shots? This guy is a true unsung warrior.
And then there's Dion Phaneuf. Twenty-sixth in blocked shots, 6th in hits, 6th in points, 3rd in goals, 5th in ice-time. Now those are some impressive numbers.
Ryan Suter is another possibility, but his team has under-performed even with Ryan playing his best season yet and they don't look playoff bound.
My finalist are Phaneuf and Subban.
Winner: P.K. Subban.
Jonathan Huberdeau leads all rookies in goals and points and he's nearly leading a bad Florida offense in both categories as well.
Justin Schultz leads all rookie defensemen in goals, assists and points, but he does have a lot of offensive help on a very talented Oilers team.
Cory Conacher is a nice story and does lead all rookies in assists and points. That said, he accumulated most of those points playing along side the offensive-minded Lightning.
I'm deciding between Huberdeau and Schultz.
Winner: Justin Schultz.
I don't really care.
This is by far my favorite award. Mostly because I think it's histerical that the most recent winner of the award doesn't even play much on his teams short hand unit. Pavel Datsyuk may very well win this award again, but in my opinion he isn't even in the top 20 best defensive players in the NHL. If he's so good defensive, then how come he only ranks 3rd on his team in short-handed ice-time per game for forwards? And how can you even give the award to a player that isn't played much in defensive situations like power plays?
Let's look are real defensive players, not just great offensive players who are reasonable defensively. The real great defensive players are those that hog most of the short-handed ice-time and are on the ice in the last minute when your team is winning by a goal.
This guy should've won the Frank J Selke most every year he's been in the NHL. No other player even needs to be named. He leads the league in short-handed ice-time by a forward with 163 minutes. No other player has more than 131. In those 163 minutes, the power-play has only 11 goals. His new team joined this season had their penalty kill go from 24th last year to 3rd best this year. He plays every shift against the other teams best offensive players and maintained an even plus-minus. And does he play in the final minute in one goal games? He must. He has 3 empty net goals this season. No player since Michael Peca has scored such a high percentage of his games into empty nets (just saying, didn't double check that stat).
Winner: Jay McClement.
The Ottawa Senators have been devastated with key injuries, yet the team still managed to stay in the playoff hunt. Paul MacLean deserves consideration for the Adams for holding this team together all season.
John Capuano deserves a gold medal for managing to put the worst managed hockey organization in the NHL into the playoffs. His team has Tim Thomas, Alexei Yashin and Rick Dipietro accounting for $11-12 million of the cap space. Without these players, who aren't even on the team, they wouldn't meet the CBA team salary floor for 2012-13.
The Columbus Blue Jackets suck. If they make the playoffs then Todd Richards is another candidate for coach of the year. This team is made up almost entirely from players unwanted otherwhere in the NHL.
All three coaches have taken a bad team to the promised land.
Winner: Paul MacLean.
The Penguins added Jarome Iginla, Jussi Jokinen, Douglas Murray and Brenden Morrow to an already stacked team. Ray Shero must be using a different math then the other General Managers in order to fit so many stars into the same salary cap every other team struggles with. Their backup goalie Tomas Vokoun is better than most NHL starting goalies and he signed him for next to nothing.
Not as impressive as the Penguins, but the Bruins added Jaromir Jagr and Wade Redden at the deadline. Peter Chiarelli also managed a very skillful trade to free up salary room by trading Tim Thomas to the Islanders. The trade was clearly made to circumvent the salary cap for both teams, as the Islanders were under the salary floor and the Bruins needed some room to work with.
I can't put my finger on a 3rd GM that stood out as much as these two.
Winner: Peter Chiarelli
Who won? Lot's of team. Forget all the small trades, let's go thru the big ones. I'm only going to discuss those made on trade day.
Otherall winner is Florida. Picking up Evan Oberg, Samsonov, Hauswirth, Bergfors, Rissmiller, Kennedy and three 3rds. No blue chip prospects, but a lot of them. Unloaded salary and they are gonna suck for the next 20 games. Sign players in the off-season and start all over. I like it. Fans aren't gonna like the remainder of the season. But this is how you build. Brian Burke?
Summer Vacation, Day 24, August 1st 2010.
It rained a bit at the start of the race and delayed it a half hour. The person in front of me packed up their RV and took off. I pulled into their fenceline spot. Last year, we were in spot 6. This year, fenceline spot 7.
From row seats.
Jimmie sucks! Just like my Leafs.
I think my awning needs some major repairs.
The Biff won the race. His victory celebration.
Supper time. I love charcoaling.
Then we shared a campfire with the neighbors. I had so much wood left. Needed to burn it.
New Leaf roster
Beauchemin, Kaberle, Komisarek, Phaneuf are their top 4. Gunnarson and Schenn are the kids trying to crack the top 4. Somehow, we still have to move Finger's salary. We moved Blake.
Grabovski is the only scoring center and he's injured. That's a big hole that needs to be filled. That makes Tyler Bozak the only player on the roster that fits the mold of a scoring centerman. I have to believe that Stempniak will be traded shortly. Poni, on the other hand, may be in Burke's longer-term plans. Mitchell, Primeau and Wallin can't like the acquisition of Sjostrom. Do we really need another non-scoring centerman?
On the other hand, with Toews and Kane, they'll be competitive for years to come. Better than the Leafs or Isles or Canes.
What undermines everyone’s effort when entertaining any conversation that puts forth anything resembling the above is the idea that you can sell it. Don’t! You can’t! It’s purely entertainment!
If you want a team in Hamilton, then we need to stand up against the people who are truly fighthing this. That's the Toronto Maple Leafs. Again, I'm not asking you to forfeit Leaf tickets as that would never work. Instead, I'm asking you to tell Toronto FC, the soccer team owned by the same MLSE as the Toronto Maple Leafs, that you won't buy tickets until there's an NHL team in Hamilton. Unfortunately, TFC doesn't have any electronic contact method, so the best we can do is put a messages on their Facebook fanpage. Please goto the fan page and write that you won't buy tickets until there's a NHL team in Hamilton.
How do we get a team in Hamilton? Stand up to the NHL. Stand up to the Leafs. I'm not gonna bother asking people to forfeit their Toronto Maple Leafs tickets because that's pointless and I doubt you'd do it anyway. Instead, I'm asking you to hit the Maple Leafs where it might actually hurt; the Raptors. You see, both teams are owned by the same parent company.
I'm asking you to send a message to the Raptors and tell them that you refuse to buy any more tickets to Raptor games until there is an NHL team playing in Hamilton. Go to the following webpage.
Click the Ticket information or Fan mail contact link or BOTH (yes, do both). Their security certificate is invalid, so you might get a warning. Ignore the warning and continue. Submit your name, email and a short message telling the Raptors that you will not buy another Raptor ticket until there's an NHL team in Hamilton.
It's too bad that the media simply reports the lies coming from the NHL about the Coyotes. It wouldn't take much courage to sit there and being laughing at them. Sure the NHL would black-balled you, but you represent integrity. When they report stuff like this, then you should laugh.
Weeks ago, the NHL reported they were not in control of the Coyotes. When the Coyotes declared bankruptcy, the NHL changed their mind and claimed they had taken control of the team from the owners. A month later, the courts disagreed as the NHL couldn't produce the documents they claimed to have.
Then the NHL claimed they controlled the rights to a second southern Ontario team and that this had nothing to do with the Sabres or the Leafs. Yet how many teams have moved in the last 10-20 years? Hartford? Winnipeg? Quebec? Dallas? How many times have we heard rumors of southern U.S. teams moving to Kansas City? Why was it made public that the Leafs would allow a 2nd Toronto team solely if they paid rent at the ACC? Why did some U.S. politicians petition the courts with concerns about the Sabres franchise?
Everybody knows it's just the NHL being the NHL again. Just as they did with Nashville (which is still in trouble). The Trashers are still in trouble. The Leafs gave $millions to the Lightning late (also in trouble) in the season and Bettman didn't seem to have any problem with that blatant circumvention of the NHL rules.
Why does the NHLPA put up with the NHL protecting broken teams at the expense of their revenue share?
I know why! Too many chickens. Nobody with the guts to stand up to Bettman, the Leafs and the Sabres. What we need is someone with the balls to do it. Like Balsillie. He's the solution to the current NHL problem. Let's support him. And let's stand up to the NHL and tell them that we want a team in Hamilton. Let's stand up to the Leafs. Let's stand up to the Sabres.
If you were Brian Burke, then what would you do in the off-season? Here's my take.
I'd be tempted to buy-out Blake and Finger, but I wouldn't. The Leafs aren't going to win the Stanley Cup next year and every year we keep either player removes two years from their salary impacting the Leafs cap. Tucker's salary cap hit for buying him out last year was $1M this year and will be $1M for the next 5 years. I don't want that mistake repeated. I wouldn't buy anybody out. It's a short-term fix and we need long-term solutions.
The biggest problem is in goal. Toskala has one year left on his contract and I think he's worth the $4M. Let's keep him as our backup or part of a 1-2 tandem and maybe we can trade him at the deadline.
The Leafs should focus on signing the best free-agent goalie they can. Tim Thomas? Khabibulin? Craig Anderson? Martin Biron? That's a pretty good list. I wouldn't trade for a starting goalie unless it was a steal. Why trade what you can sign for free? Martin Gerber is another free-agent option, but I'd give him 1 year max. I wouldn't give anybody a no-trade clause.
I wouldn't put much stock in Justin Pogge anymore. Let's leave him with the Marlies for now and test him again in 2010, unless he pulls off a miracle in the AHL playoffs. That would change everything.
Set ($19M). Kubina, Kaberle, White, Finger, Schenn, Van Ryn are the starting six. Frogen is the 7th. Stralman could fill-in for injuries and I might even give him a shot at making the club.
BTW, if we give $6M to a 2nd goaltender, then we are already at $29M and $29M for an NHL defense is rather high, especially for one that isn't all that good.
Returning fowards ($16M); Blake, Hagman, Ponikarovsky, Stempniak, Stajan and Kulemin. We'll have to resign Grabovski for about $1.5M. I would keep Jamal Mayers and John Mitchell as fourth liners and 13th forwards with the club or with the Marlies. I wouldn't be afraid to lose either on waivers either. I'd also give Jeremy Williams and Jiri Tlusty shots at making the big club next season.
This leaves us 4 forward positions to fill. One of these will be filled by our first round draft pick. The Leafs should get a high pick and most of the talent is at center. I would do everything to move up in this draft, as the talent is thick. Tavares, Hedman and Duchesne are the prizes. It might be difficult to trade up and get Tavares. Both Hedman and Duchesne might be available for a reasonable price.
Now we have 3 forward positions left to fill. I really like Andre Deveaux and we can have him for minimum. The Leafs need a right-handed centerman that can win faceoffs (Dominik Moore $1.5M?). This leaves us a little bit of room to pick up a free-agent forward to fill out the lineup with a tough guy that can play.
Sign Ponikarovsky to an 2-yr extension at $3-3.5M. Sign Stajan to a 1-yr extension at $2M. They are unrestricted at the end of 2009-10.
Still not a great team. If we re-signed Gerber to a $1.5M deal instead of going for a #1 goalie, then we'd have salary room to go after a premier forward, but I think you build from the net out.