In the past, when an article like Aaron Portzline's preview of the Leafs' upcoming season was written we'd whip out the Cox Bloc sign and 24 hours later we'd be laughing at their ability to relate everything to classic 80s WWF storylines and the many ways in which they were able to point out a writer's flaws. Sadly, disillusionment at the mittenstringers' ability to continue producing the same content in the face of Cox Bloc's withering ripostes combined with the fear that they had met their match when I got press credentials has led Jorn and Till to look for other projects.
Their absence has led out-of-town mittenstringers becoming emboldened and offering their half-baked impressions on the local hockey team. This article by Aaron Portzline is exhibit A in the argument against ever telling reporters that media critics are pulling out of the internet. They'll just lie in waiting until they know that the coast is clear before attacking. But Cox Bloc didn't leave us completely unequipped:
We did 2 years, it’s someone else’s turn.
That’s right, Cox Bloc is ALL OF YOU.
So without further ado I'll put on my Cox Bloc mask and pray that Till cleaned it out after the going away party:
Now in the 43rd year of a rebuilding process, the Toronto Maple Leafs have turned to American-born general manager Brian Burke to bring the Stanley Cup "home" for the first time since 1966-67. He's the 11th Leafs GM since the Cup was hoisted in Hogtown.
Dear God. Is that really how you are going to start this out? Are you that sure that the Leafs won't win the Stanley Cup this season? You might do well to read this post and then you can compare that to the Blue Jackets' playoff record. I am obviously not a fan of the idea that you can't criticise other teams when yours has been a laughing stock for almost its entire history otherwise we'd never hear from senators fans and that's some good comic relief that we'd lose. However, four conference finals in a decade suggests that at some point a team of some quality was built.
But while the Leafs have gotten noticeably tougher they also added forward thumper Colton Orr they still have a massive shortage of goal-scoring.
The Leafs' were 10th in goals for last season. It's true. I know that because I can navigate NHL.com which I can do because I don't live in Columbus.
Toronto fans would bitch about the Leafs if they went 80-0-2.
If they got 80 wins then why couldn't they win those other two? I think that's a fair complaint. Good thing for the Blue Jackets that their fan is so understanding.
But the expectations have been lowered a tad by the club's failing to make the playoffs since the lockout that wiped out the 2004-05 season.
Mostly, the folks are glad to have a club with a little swagger. And they're glad to finally be headed in the right direction.
Hey, if you can't beat 'em, beat 'em up, right?
First, why is every sentence a new line? Is there a new style guide that bloggers are not allowed to read that does away with paragraphs? Not to mention that it's not about beating them or beating them up. It's about reviving Conn Smythe's dream to do both:
You can't beat them on the ice if you can't beat them in the alley
But yes, overall we are pretty happy that the Leafs might not serve as bodychecking practice dummies for the rest of the league.
There are some candidates to move up Mitchell, Kumelin and prospect Jiri Tlusty, for instance but scoring goals is going to be a major issue for this club.
10th overall in goals scored. It's still true. Over/Under on the number of reporters that mention this fact during preview season: 2.5. I am taking the under.
The third and fourth lines are no problem. Lots of grinders and heart and soul types, especially if they can resign restricted free agent Ryan Hollweg.
That sentence started out so insightfully and then he mentioned Ryan "don't turn your back to me" Hollweg.
The bottom two lines will have to chip in some scoring, but they'll also have to provide some intimidation. Outside of Ponikarovsky, who plays smaller than his 6-5, 220 pound frame, the Leafs are tiny on the top two lines.
Here's a one-word explanation for why the top six have nothing to worry about: Truculence. In fact, that should read "TRUCULENCE!!!1". The additions of some really big men to flank Our Luke and Saviour will hopefully deter teams from their current practice of taking numbers before lining up to run over our smaller forwards.
The shocker as of July 29 is that Burke hasn't been able to unload Kaberle via trade. There was talk a year ago that Philadelphia would have traded get this Jeff Carter and a No. 1 pick for Kaberle, but Kaberle wouldn't waive his no trade clause. Ugh.
Low blow Portzline. Low blow. The real shocker isn't that Burke hasn't been able to unload him (hint: he could do it anytime) but that no team that fancies itself a contender has come up with a good enough offer.
That he's still in Toronto makes it possible for the Leafs to have a truly special blue line. Komisarek and Beauchemin are physical and mobile, and Schenn is quickly joining that group. Kaberle, Van Ryn and Finger are regarded as puck-movers. That's three good pairs right there.
Exelby figures to be the No. 7, which is a pretty good set-up. Frogren and/or White is expendable.
Hey, I like what this guy is selling. Maybe I was a bit hasty is picking this article to give the old Cox Bloc'ing.
A .891 save percentage last season simply wasn't good enough. The NHL median save percentage was .905. If Toskala had sustained that save percentage, he would have allowed 22 fewer goals last season.
That would have brought the Leafs down from 286 goals against to 264 before counting the impact of an improved penalty kill and better defence. Hmmmm...
Gustavsson is a beast, at 6-3, 195 pounds. He's had two very good seasons in Sweden's top league, and many think he's ready to be the next Henrik Lundqvist.
I feel like this optimism on his part is a trap so that he can write a 'look at what the dummy Leaf fans believe" story.
Burke never rests, never stops looking for another move, so it's reasonable to assume more could be on the horizon.
Well, except for those back-to-back vacations he never rests. I hope that he doesn't end up like Dubya with almost half of his tenure being spent on vacation. Well, I guess he could earn it as long as the other half of the time isn't spent being incompetent.
The Leafs need to move another defenseman. If it's Kaberle, they could get a top six forward in return, which would be a huge help.
Actually, the Leafs do not need to move another defenceman. They probably want to do so but with Stralman gone (dammit) it's much easier to fit all 15 of their defencemen into the lineup.
The Leafs are probably one year away from being playoff caliber, and at least that from being an Eastern Conference playoff threat.
So that's why he led with the extra year of futility...
Don't expect lots of wins or high-scoring games for these Leafs. But with the infusion of big, competitive players, there will be fireworks. The Leafs won't be pushed around.
The Maple Leafs were 10th in the league in goals for last season. That means that 20 teams scored fewer times than them. I don't think that I can emphasise that enough.
The rebuilding has spread into its fifth decade. But the Leafs finally appear to have a plan in place, and they seem to be going in the right direction.
Lazy, lazy, lazy...but for reasons that will be clear soon enough I heartily endorse that conclusion. Aside from his inability to recognise that the Leafs were 10th in league scoring (it's true) Portzline doesn't actually do too bad of a job for someone that lives in Columbus. He didn't use any ethnic slurs or lose a title game in embarrassing fashion so maybe he commutes. So what if Portzline starts out weak with the usual 1967 barbs and some typical rips on the team's fanbase for their devotion. It's always sad to see writers have to resort to those kinds of crutches but then again they tend to hold onto those tighther than Wellfed holding on to a drumstick.