Free Agents 2007

Chris says:

Come Sunday the Free Agent market is open for business. Given what's gone down in Leaf Nation over the last couple of weeks I think it's pretty safe to say that we won't be looking to spend any money on Defense or Goal tending.

So it's Forwards for us, (preferably one able to find the back of the net with some consistency).

After the Toskala\Bell trade we've lost a bit of wiggle room in our pocket book, although I still believe it's worth shopping around McCabe's contract and see who shows interest. Let's see what big names we might like to see wearing a Leaf Jersey this winter.

Ryan Smyth.

It seems like every team under the sun wants to get there hands on this guy and I don't think the Leafs are any different. Personally, I like the idea. With Sundin looking to hang up his skates in the next year or two I think we need to look outside the organization for the next person to wear the C. I think Smyth could be our man. However, if a bidding war erupts I don't think our pockets will be deep enough to land him.

Paul Kariya.

Let's face it. The Preds are holding a fire sale right and probably won't fight very hard to keep him.

Todd Bertuzzi.

There aren't enough syllables in the word No to describe the "Hell No"ness of my answer. He's not the same player of old and I'll be honest I don't like the baggage he brings to the game.

Owen Nolan.

Been there. Done that. Bought the T-Shirt. Pass.

Alexi Yashin.

Steve and I had a debate as to whether or not we should bring Yashin to T.O. if the opportunity presented itself. In the end Yashin's output has fallen off as of late and the crap attitude he brings to the locker room isn't worth the chance he may rediscover how to score goals.

Chris Drury\ Daniel Briere.

I don't think Buffalo can keep both of these guys. I wouldn't cry a tear if either one ended up with the Leafs. Both played well this year and I remember them giving us a rough time whenever the two clubs met up. Either one would probably be more affordable then Smyth if the opportunity arose to sign them. Not a consolation prize, just a signing more in tune with our pocketbook.

Steve says:

The cap was announced to be 50.3mil for this season which means that even if we don't dump anybody, we have roughly $6mil left to spend which should be enough to get us someone decent.
IMO we should go after Kariya. I used to be 100% in favour of getting Smyth, but it looks like NYI are going to throw a boatload of cash at him...somewhere in the range of $7mil/ and a 7-8 year contract...CRAZY!
I would still be happy with Smyth, but he would have to be crazy not to take that $ at this point in his career.

No to Bertuzzi, Nolan, Yashin. No reasoning needed.

Briere declined on the offer from the Sabres...so that might turn into something good...
He would be a welcome youthful addition.

I cant wait to see the bidding wars and watch how they unfold. Too bad we didn't get Muclker signed on by now...he might be a good guy to have holding the hand of JFJ through this oh so important time.


The Bet

Chris says:

In last year's drive to the playoff's Steve and I made a bet with each other.

Steve thought the Leaf's would edge into a playoff spot and I thought it was possible but unlikely. The stakes of the bet was that the loser would have to come to the winner's hometown and pay for a month's worth Leaf TV. As well, the bet had to be paid off by the time the next season rolled around.

Steve likes to claim that I was being disloyal to our team. I prefer to think of it as being realistic. Just because I root for a team, doesn't mean that I'm not able to accurately judge when I don't think they'll make the playoffs.

In short. Pay up Steve.

Steve says:

As if !

Would Adrian bet against Rocky? Would Bonnie bet against Clyde? Would Jermaine vote against Tito?

I feel to a degree that the Leafs had just that much less support from you and in some wacky hippie Karmic way you made them lose, or made Jersey lose that all important game because you want Leafs TV...or maybe you don't even care so much about the channel, and just want to win the bet to soothe your ego about how "hockey smart" you are.

You'll get your "blood money" this summer...and I hope whenever you are watching that channel (which is not possible to get in Ottawa...grrr) I hope you remember the day when you cheered AGAINST the hopes and dreams of the Leaf Nation!

the NHL says "NO" to Canada

Steve says:

Well, it looks as though Jim Balssilie is S.O.L. when it comes to buying an NHL team...it would appear as though Betteman has used his muscle to convince the Preds owners to sell to some other party for $50million LESS than Balsillie because they will move the team to Kansas City instead of Hamilton Ont. as Balsillie would like to.

First of all, it sucks the Batteman is putting teams into markets where they will fail as opposed to putting them in Canada, where the fans will camp overnight to get tickets.

BUT, I also wonder if MLSE, and maybe Buffalo didn't have a hand in this. A team in Hamilton would certainly put a strain on each of those markets. And even though a good portion of the seats at the ACC are corporate season tickets every year...it would still make a dent...and I just don't think that MLSE is terribly interested in working hard at putting a super strong team on the ice in order to keep their fanbase...they would rather just sweep any new threats (Balsillie's Hamilton Blackberries) under the carpet.

Good luck maybe buying Atlanta in a year or so Jim!

Chris says:
I've been back and forth on this issue. But in the end I have to say, Bring the Preds to Hamilton.
I love the Leafs and my feelings aren't going to change either way butI think having a team in Hamilton will only improve the hockey experience in T.O., not detract from it.
Think we've got a rivalry going with the Sens now? What happens when you can take in a game on the other team's turf just 45 minutes down the road?
Ticket prices will almost certainly come down. If Hamilton starts bleeding off the fringe fans MLSE is going to want to get butts in seats. And that means dropping the ticket prices to manageable levels. Forget about the corporate drones who leave after the second period. It'll be fans in the seats again. Real fans. Loud, cheering, bang on the glass fans.
It'll force the Leafs to be more competitive. If Hamilton starts winning games and making us look bad MLSE will have to pull out all the stops. The Leafs simply can't coast by on tradition and the good will of their fans anymore. They need to go out and put together a winning team.
And finally, Hockey belongs in Canada. Hamilton and Southern Ontario will treat an NHL franchise a hell of a lot better than Nashville, Kansas City or Las Vegas ever will.
So it may be dead in the water now, but I say keep fighting Jim. Bring hockey back to Canada and we'll love you for it.

Steve says:
Everything you just said is exactly why I suspect that MLSE called up Betteman and put the screws to him. A team in Hamilton would mean all of those good things you listed (lower prices, more competitive team, etc.) but in order to achieve those things, it means work.
and MLSE has shown time and time again, that if there is one thing they don't want to do, it's work towards a better Leaf team.
Don't get me wrong, i love the Leafs and will cheer for them the whole way through, but it is painfully obvious that the idea of a Hamilton team to MLSE is like a Tim Horton's Owner watching a Starbucks open on the same block. They will do everything they can to stop it.


Paul Kariya

Steve says:

check it...

this would be some of the scoring we need...maybe if he wants to jump the Nashville ship before it sinks to the armpit of Canada (Hamilton), then maybe we have a shot..
although...his price tag is a bit steep for 20-25 goals....hopefully he would return to his 45-50 goal form....and come down to a 3.75-4.25/season...
that would make it sweet...
we could even afford to keep McCabe around...and have a small bit of change left for the rest of the year....

yup...I think if Paul Maurice and convince Tucker to park in front of the net more, the Kariya is the way to go.

Mike Peca

Steve says:

Looks like he won't be back in the blue and white...
I think Mike was good for us but due to his injuries (legs, knees, and ligaments) he will only get progressively worse as the next season progresses.
I think his lack of scoring is another reason why JFJ will look elsewhere.
I expect that he will drop Peca and Oneil and use that aprx. 4mil to sign a power scoring forward, which is what we need.
Thanks for the PK help when you were healthy Mike, good luck wherever you end up...(I'm guessing Boston or Jersey)

in my living room

Steve says:

on a slightly different note...

i am presently researching LCD tv's...i will either be buying a 37" Sharp Aquos LCD or a Sony Grand Wega (or Vega or whatev)

I am leaning towards the Sharp simply because the picture looks better, the response time is better (better for watching sports)it has a think profile (4" thick !) and it can be wall mounted!
holy frik!

it's a lot of $ to spend, but i am working it out...cuz after all...I plan to watch a lot of hockey next year as I be-leaf that the Leafs will go deep into the playoffs this year!

Chris says:

Where is my Leafs TV that you owe me? Pay. Up.

Steve says:

I can't believe you are happy about profiting from the Leafs NOT getting into the playoffs...I call into question your loyalties!


the GM role

Steve says:

The word on the street is that the Leafs are looking to sign a "senior role" in management. They want someone like Muckler or Bowman to watch over JFJ. Bowman recently said "It's not going to happen",
( http://www.torontosun.com/Sports/Hockey/2007/06/26/4291013-sun.html)
which I think speaks volumes about what Bowman thinks of MLSE and what shape our organisation is in. That article is written by Steve Simmons though,...so read it with a grain of salt...he hates the Leafs....but some points do ring true of Peddie and MLSE.

If the Leafs can get Muckler I don't think that he will be happy giving "advice" to JFJ. I expect that if MLSE really wants Muckler, he will be offered JFJ's job.

Which I would support 100%

(...i think the phrase 110% is gaaay...)

Chris says:

It's always good to have experienced hockey men in your organization. To that end I think Muckler would be a big help for us.

What I don't like about the whole thing is how they're clearly positioning Muckler to be JFJ's replacement. How much does that suck if you're JFJ?

I'm not Ferguson's biggest fan. But I do think that he's getting a bit of a bum's rush.

His last two seasons as GM he didn't make it to the post season and in a hockey mad town like T.O. you're damn right that will potentially put your head on the chopping block. But realistically, has the man been given a fair shake?

His first time out of the gate he's still dealing with the effects of the Post Lockout NHL reality. Which means the Leafs are carrying more expensive aging vets then is good for any team.

And last year we had more injured man hours then any other team in the League. Considering we lost our spot in the playoffs by one freaking game, you can't tell me that's not significant.

Basically this is the year he has to shine. He's got the coach he wants and he's in the position to build the team he wants.

You have to let your GM do his job. You've got to respect him enough to let him suceed or fail under his own steam. MLSE isn't willing to do that. Between the one year extensions and shopping for his replacement, it's clear they've already made up their minds.

Steve says:

It seems to me that by creating the "Senior Management of Hockey" position, which has never been there before, MLSE is saying "well JFJ, here it is,...your shot...you do good this year and your job is secure, and the Senior position probably goes away (since it is an added expense to have a babysitter for you), BUT screw up again, and your goose is cooked and Muckler is poised to step in..."
However, this could totally backfire on them, if Muckler decides to retire after a year...assuming it all even happens in the first place...
it sucks to have someone breathing over your shoulder while trying to do your job, but if JFJ can prove that he is worthy of GM'ing the hallowed Leafs, then I bet we see Muckler cut loose after a year.

Shark Bite



I KNEW that I was going to have to back up my opinions with facts. I wasn't going to be allowed to just rant about why just the sight of Daniel Alfredsson makes me want to dry heave.

Ok. Some quick thoughts on the Toskala\Bell trade.

Initially I was all for it. But after some time to think I've changed my opinion somewhat. It's not that Toskala is a bad goalie. Steve has just laid out how that's clearly not the case. It's that trading for Toskala was not the right move at the right time for this organization.

Allow me to elaborate.

JFJ is a lame duck GM. There's no other way to look at it. The MLSE board, in its infinite wisdom, has seen fit to only grant him a year long extension to his contract. It's difficult to build a strong competitive team for the future when you might not be around to see them play. Hence the Toskala trade. JFJ needed to make a trade and he needed to make it now, not beacause it would help the team but because he needed to be seen doing something to make the Leafs better ASAP. And to hell with the consequences.

And there are consequences. The draft and develop approach got pitched out the window in favour of a quick fix by a GM feeling the pinch.

Now we've got Bell's 2.1 million dollar salary hanging around our necks next year, restricting our ability to buy in the Free Agent market and giving us a potential bad blood scenario between two goalies both used to being the number one puckstopper.

My question is whatever happened to Aubin? In the 2005 drive to the playoffs he stepped it up and more than filled Belfour's shoes. If he looked less than stellar between the pipes this year its because, in an attempt to justify Raycroft's sweetheart contract, they decided to to overplay their #1 goalie at the expense of their backup. Every time Aubin played he had to shake off a month's worth of rust. Maurice should have played smart hockey and played Aubin every fifth or sixth game, not just when Raycroft had a particularly bad outing and needed to rest up for a night.

So. For 500k we could have used Aubin in back up for another year. This would allow Pogge one more year to sharpen up for his big league debut and saved the Leafs 4.475$ million from the combined hit they took from adding Toskala and Bell's salary to the roster.

That would have left us with one first round draft pick and a much more significant amount of change with which to land a serious free agent.

Steve says:
True, JFJ is attempting to save his own neck. No doubt about that. But this trade does make sense because nobody we drafted this year would be ready for at least 2-3 years to come to the NHL.
Also, by the time Toskala and Raycroft are due to be traded or whatever, Justin Pogge will be ready to take over...Pogge wont be ready for at least 2 years..he's only 21...and he only had a decent AHL year (mind you, the Marlies kinda blew, so it's not all his fault).
I agree with the suckiness of having Bell's price tag, but hey...you can't always get what you want...especially with JFJ at the helm.
I also agree with the idea that we should have played Aubin more last season...I think we would have at least made it into the playoffs had he been given some more ice time, but that is now water under the bridge...we must look forward.
The draft this year was simply average...it had a lot of stay at home players who will be solid, but not a lot of high scoring players, or really exceptional D-men. So trading away out #1 this year wasn't as crucial as it would be next year or the year after. I will say that I feel me missed a boat by not getting Esposito, but who knows...he could still be traded before he even steps on NHL ice...
July 1st will show us if JFJ actually has a master plan to make all of this make sense... I will withhold final judgement until I see if JFJ can get some real help for our 1st line ...

a little info on toskala

Last year Toskala had a W-L-OTL record of 26-10-1.
Therefore out of 74 points San Jose could have got when Toskala was the goalie of record, they got 53, or 72% of the points available. Only Hasek (75%) and Giguere (74%) had better such winning percentages. Backstrom and Osgoode were next at 70%.

I'd say he's in some pretty good company.

Sean Avery

there is a new rumour going around about signing Sean Avery from the Rangers.

I can only think of 1 good reason to sign Sean Avery and it isn't his offensive skills.

new signings

Steve says:
we signed Gamache and Harrison ....
this could be one of a few things,...
1. stocking up the Marlies with average - slightly above average players to cover the Leafs when we have injuries
2. JFJ preparing some kind of upcoming trade
3. JFJ resigning another average player cuz he doesn't know what else to do with him.

I'm hoping it's #2

Chris says:
Gamache and Harrison. Does it really matter? Harrison stepped it up last season when the Leaf's were injury ridden. So it's nice to see him back in the fold. But right now the real focus has to be on signing a free agent who can produce some goals or shopping around McCabe's contract and seeing who's interested. Can the Blue Line live w/o McC? I think so.


I hear a lot of rumours about the Leafs going after Ryan Smyth, Captain Canada. Before his trade to NYI, I never would have thought of him as going anywhere except Edmonton...but now....?

Also, Jason Blake would be decent, and a hell of a lot cheaper!...but the rumour is that he is not good in the dressing room...I'm guessing that refers to some kind of morale issue..i dunno...but I bet the Toronto media would kick his ass into shape fast enough... maybe Toronto will make good on the McCabe/ Smyth rumour...but I don't think there would be much point if we lost McCabe, only to get Blake....if anything it would do more harm than good

I just think it would be good if we could drop some salary and get a real good winger for the 1st line...

In un-Leaf-related news, the Sens have yet to sign Ray Emery...and they still suck!

the Draft

this year we traded away our 1st round pick again for a goaltender (Toskala) and a 3rd/4th line winger...which could be seen in a few ways...
1. a band-aid for JFJ's mess from last year (Raycroft and his gaping glove hand)
2. recognizing that even if we had grabbed someone at the Draft, they wouldn't be ready to play for 2-3 years anyway, and our farm team looks like it will present us with a few gifts within that time frame anyhow
3. an attempt by JFJ to get the Leafs back into playoff contention and thereby save his job

either way, I like Toskala, and if the 2 goaltenders share the starting duties, it could turn into something decent.



I'd like to second what Steve has said. Basically we decided to move our daily disection of Leaf activity from email onto the net. Our opinions might come more from gut feelings than cold hard facts but that won't stop us from asserting said opinions loudly and often.

This is basically the best time to be a Leaf fan right now. The harsh reality of a grueling season has yet to take its toll on our emotions and with money in the bank and a vertiable crop of top drawer free agents up for grabs who knows what kind of talent JFJ and company can buy.

the 1st post

Here is the first post on a blog shared by Steve and Chris. We'll talk about all things hockey, dealing mostly with the team we support through thick and thin...the Leafs.
You may agree with what we say. You may disagree. We don't really care. We may look back at this in a year and disagree. Whatever.
One thing that is for sure is that the Leafs are the best Hockey team ever, win or lose.
Deal with it.