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Maple Leafs: Did Phil Kessel swear at Dion Phaneuf?

An interesting video clip has appeared, showing Phil Kessel appearing to swear at teammate Dion Phaneuf. I’m sure this is just what the Leafs need right now, with how the season has panned out.

As you can imagine, the video has brought up all kinds of questions: Is it legit or have two clips been edited together? Is the lip-reading accurate? And even if Kessel did swear at Phaneuf, what was the context behind it?

Watch it for yourself and make your own decision:

Credits: uqueens2014 & HockeyWebCaster

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Leafs: David Clarkson vs Milan Lucic

Look, I’m just as happy as the next person after the Leafs dramatic 4-3 overtime win against the Bruins. However, if anything sums up David Clarkson’s season on the ice*, it’s this fight with the Bruins Milan Lucic.

* Emphasis on the word ‘on’, because I’m sure he’s doing just fine off the ice with all that money to spend, courtesy of his 7-year $36.75 million contract.

Normally when you have a fight, it’s in an attempt to motivate your teammates, but Clarkson may well have had the opposite affect after that effort. How else can you explain the Leafs giving up a two-goal lead after the incident?!

(Yes, I realise the Leafs may have been thinking of last season’s game 7 collapse in Boston, but that wouldn’t have worked as well for the purposes of this cheap attempt to make fun of Clarkson’s play this season.)

If you have any tips or information about any of Toronto’s sports teams, please email me at Englishpaul@hotmail.co.uk

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Leafs: “Nail, meet coffin”

You make a commitment to write about the Leafs, but they make it so damn hard sometimes. What are you supposed to say? Fortunately, at this point in the season, there’s really nothing left to say anyway.

I could state the obvious – the Leafs need to win every one of their remaining games if they hope to reach the playoffs – or I could state the ultra-obvious – they won’t be making the playoffs.

I could point to the simple mistakes that continue to plague this team – turnovers, poor defensive zone coverage, weak goals – and argue that head coach Randy Carlyle has failed to teach them anything.

I could add that all the hate directed towards James Reimer last week was completely misplaced. Jonathan Bernier has surrendered 12 goals in three games since returning from injury and the Leafs haven’t looked any better with him in net. (Although he continues to enjoy Carlyle’s confidence, which says what?)

I could say all of this, but none of it would matter. We already know the story on the Leafs: They’re a yearly disappointment. In fact, it would be oddly disappointing if they somehow failed to disappoint us.

I may not know what to say about the Leafs, (Editor’s note – You could have fooled me!) but if I was the general manager of the team, here’s how I’d go about making my point that their performance this season has been completely unacceptable.

First, I’d call a general team meeting for some time early in the morning, but I’d never go to the meeting myself. Afterwards, I’d send the team a message: “Sorry, guys. I took one from your book: I failed to show up when it really mattered.”

If they need a message, that should deliver one.

Second, I’d take the captaincy away from Dion Phaneuf. I’m not opposed to him regaining the captaincy one day, but this is a special franchise so it naturally requires a special leader. Phaneuf’s not that guy (right now at least). Here I’m thinking of the Matt Sundins, Doug Gilmours, Wendels Clarks and Darryl Sittlers of the hockey world. (No, Phil Kessel isn’t the answer either.)

Finally, I’d heed Riddick Bowe’s advice and knock Carlyle out. Of the organization. No coach is perfect or can stay forever, but Carlyle has been especially effective at alienating players. Need proof? Look at Mikhail Grabovski, Clarke MacArthur and Reimer. Two have flourished outside Toronto, one has floundered in Toronto.

To put it in simple terms, Carlyle’s record speaks for itself.

I’m not sure how to address the David Clarkson situation – a situation that falls squarely on the general manager Dave Nonis – but something must be done here as well.

The Leafs haven’t been a truly competitive team since the heydays of the Sundin era and that’s not going to change any time soon. It’s what we’ve come to expect from the Leafs in recent years. They’re simply not very good.

In other words, check out the Raptors if you want to see some playoff action this spring.

Photo credit: Frank Gunn – Canadian Press

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Leafs: A missed opportunity with loss to Flyers

The Philadelphia Flyers celebrate a goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs

Editors note – Let’s give a warm welcome to William, the latest addition to the Blue Toro team. He’s a lifelong Leafs fan, hence, in his own words, he’s depressed most of the time. William also follows the Jays, so I’ve already given up hope of ever cheering him up.

In an ideal world, I’d be telling you right now the Leafs swept their season series against the Philadelphia Flyers last night and that they were now returning home in the hopes of winning back-to-back games for the first time in who knows how long.

Instead, I can only report that the Leafs missed a golden opportunity yesterday to put themselves (temporarily anyway) ahead in the race for a Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Columbus Blue Jackets, who’ve played two fewer games than the Leafs, had a difficult matchup last night against the Pittsburgh Penguins and lost as expected. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter since the Leafs lost as well. Toronto must be kicking itself right now, because there are only so many tough matchups like this coming the Blue Jackets’ way.

(Columbus has been a complete and pleasant surprise this season, and it would be great to see them make the playoffs, but it shouldn’t be at the Leafs’ expense!)

Toronto has little time left in the season to correct the course – they’ve now lost seven games in a row – and it’s hard to believe they once (albeit temporarily – sense a theme?) sat above Montreal in the standings.

They draw a potentially favourable matchup tonight against the Detroit Red Wings – favourable in the sense that they can prevent Detroit from picking up any points in the Wild Card race – but the same scenario applies to the Red Wings.

It’s the mistakes that are harming Toronto: Untimely penalties, poor defensive decisions and play, weak goals, slow offence.

Unless these problems are miraculously nixed by the time the puck drops tonight, I have my money on Detroit to win. Yes, you heard that correctly, but it’s also the safe and easy bet.

(Go Red Wings?)

Photo credit: Matt Slocum – Associated Press

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Leafs need Jonathan Bernier & Dave Bolland for playoff push

Standing fourth in the Atlantic Division (36-26-8) with 80 points, the leafs await the return of Jonathan Bernier and David Bolland, with the playoffs fast approaching. Bernier has been diagnosed with a low-grade muscle strain in his groin and it has been confirmed he could be an option by the weekend, depending on how he recovers from the muscle strain.

Coach Randy Carlyle advised Bolland has made a little progress and that he is skating on the ice. The Leafs hope he will make his return before the playoffs start.

The Leafs ended their 5-game road trip with a loss against the Red Wings last night in Detroit. Gustav Nyquist scored a pair of goals to lead the home side to a 3-2 win in the ‘Original Six’ clash, with James Reimer allowing all three goals on 31 shots.

Jake Gardiner and James van Riemsdyk had a goal apiece for the Leafs, who have now lost in three of their last four tilts. “It was average, there was some good and bad throughout the five games.” Leafs forward Nazem Kadri said of the team’s road trip.

Despite the outcome of this game, the Leafs still hold the wild card number one spot.  The Leafs play seven of their next nine games on home ice and will host the Tampa Bay Lighting tonight.

Photo credit: http://slam.canoe.ca/

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Leafs: Carter Ashton vs Tom Wilson

Credit to the Leafs, who played much better against the Capitals last night. Unfortunately, they still came up short and saw their losing streak extend to 4 games.

In fact, Carter Ashton’s fight with Tom Wilson pretty much sums up the 3-2 defeat:

Great effort by the two youngsters, but Wilson always looked like he was in control. And adding insult to injury, Ashton also lost out to his opponent in the looks department. (Let’s just say I think Wilson will be scoring a hell of a lot more off the ice in Washington.)

By the way, the video clip above could well go down in folklore come season’s end. “I remember the time when the Leafs were actually out-shooting their opponent in a game”. Cheap shot? Yes, maybe. But it doesn’t make it any less true.

If you have any tips or information about any of Toronto’s sports teams, please email me at Englishpaul@hotmail.co.uk

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Leafs: Is it time to fire Randy Carlyle – Your thoughts

carlyle 

“Is it time to fire Randy Carlyle?” That’s the question that’s been doing the rounds in Toronto pretty much since the first slump of the season. (Not that the media or fans are a fickle bunch or anything…………..) Now, on the back of three straight losses, sorry, make that ass-kickings, the calls for Carlyle to go have only intensified.

It’s interesting how statistics can be manipulated to support any argument. For example, before the latest slump, people were praising the Leafs for securing points in six-straight games (4-0-2). However, a certain member of the media stated after last night’s 6-1 thumping, it was the 22nd time in the last 24 outings that the Leafs had failed to register a regulation win.

Some times it’s tough to look at these matter objectively. However, as any journalist worth their salts knows, in theory, you’re meant to look at any situation from both sides. Unfortunately, the reality is a very different story.

I could share my thoughts on Carlyle (and I will), but I’m going to give you guys a chance to share your opinion first of all. Let us know why you think he should or shouldn’t be fired. We’ll post some of your responses below throughout the rest of the day.

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Photo credit: www.northernlife.ca

If you have any tips or information about any of Toronto’s sports teams, please email me at Englishpaul@hotmail.co.uk

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Leafs: Frazer McLaren vs Chris Neil

As you’d expect in the battle on Ontario, tempers are frayed. But this fight between the Leafs Frazer McLaren and the Senators Chris Neil is particularly nasty, especially when you consider they have a history:

Anyone else get the feeling McLaren and Neil don’t like each other?

If you have any tips or information about any of Toronto’s sports teams, please email me at Englishpaul@hotmail.co.uk

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Leafs: Colton Orr vs George Parros round 2

I don’t want to spend too much time doing a post mortem on the Leafs 4-2 loss in Montreal last night. (Tom Petty’s ‘free falling’ comes to mind.) However, I just wanted to briefly touch on the fight between Colton Orr and George Parros.

Whether or not you’re a proponent of fighting in hockey, you were likely as nervous as me when Orr and Parros started going at it. And yet, it was still one heck of a ding-dong! (Did I really just write that?!?!)

I actually tweeted at the time that I thought Orr held back slightly and who could blame him? This was backed up when I re-watched the fight and, as the commentator said, the Leafs winger did everything possible to stop Parros’ head from hitting the ice when they both fell.

I’m not here to say whether I think fighting in hockey should be banned or not. However, if Orr’s conduct during last night’s bout becomes a more common theme amongst players, how much of an influence could this have moving forward?

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Leafs: Nazem Kadri vs Matt Calvert

It’s amazing how much you have to talk about after one of Toronto’s teams’ gets destroyed 6-0. (I’m running out of adjectives to describe last night’s loss.) However, I promise to make this the last Leafs post of the day. Unless something major happens.

While personally liking Nazem Kadri, I realise he’s also perceived as a bit of a sneaky so-and-so (or words to that effect), taking cheap shots at opponents whenever he gets the chance. In that respect, a lot of people will see this reaction by the Blue Jackets Matt Calvert as being more than justified:

It’s interesting how Kadri really didn’t expect Calvert to go after him. Maybe the Leafs centre needed this type of a wake-up call, because his recent suspension doesn’t appear to have taught him much.

If you have any tips or information about any of Toronto’s sports teams, please email me at Englishpaul@hotmail.co.uk

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