The funny thing about writing a personal blog is that you are really responsible to no one. Last week I made some vague promises that I would write about the following:
- What defencemen will stick with the big club?
- What will the lines look like?
- Where will the goals come from?
- Is JFJ trying to undermine Maurice already?
But what happened when Queen's Homecoming derailed my plans? From what I know, only a couple of friends noticed (one also noticed that initially the post said 'Tomorrow' and then I edited it). Aside from that I guess some poor ex-pat in Indonesia might not have the time to read all of the Leafs' stories in the Sun, Star, Globe, and Post. For him, here is a wrap up of those questions and the training camp news before tonight's pre-season opener against Buffalo. I have LeafsTV so I'll have a game report of some sort (not sure how I want to write them up) although Prison Break is on so I might have to wait for the hour-long edited version of the game.
After leaving the first practice with suspected post-concussion symptoms Carlo Colaiacovo (that might be the first time I write that correctly without having to check) will be handled gently by the Leafs. Knowing the trials and tribulations that the Lindros Brothers had with head injuries it is good to see the team taking the measured approach.
This setback does open up the door for the other defencemen vying for the last two or three spots on the blueline. The most interesting line from that article covered the contract status of the Marlies Sextet:
But "status" could have an impact. Two of the players, Kronwall and White, do not have to clear waivers to return to the minors. The others do. That makes it a lot easier to move those two back and forth â•‰ perhaps using one of then as a seventh defenceman â•‰ than players who are eligible for waivers and could be claimed by another team.
The general consensus has been that Carlo would partner Kubina with Gill getting a partner skilled with the puck, someone like White (I heard that seeing the 6'7" Gill partner the 5'10" white looked pretty funny). However, if this contract situation plays a part in the decision - and it should only become a factor if two players are in a dead heat - then this gives Jay Harrison and Brendan Bell a bit of an edge. At the end of the day, the benefit that the Leafs will have in making this decision is that Paul Maurice will have had an entire season with the Marlies and a training camp to assess these six.
The Depths of Madness?
I had my anticipated/desired lines for this year's team thought out since about June. It was a long process of exchanging e-mails with some equally busy friends. We made a few revisions to slot in new signings but are holding off on releasing the full lines until we see some pre-season games. Other people have not shown that same foresight and have released depth charts. tsn.ca has a season preview (surprise: kids need to score more and Raycroft has to be good) along with their chart. The Star counters with some interesting lines. They both agree that Carlo and Kronwall will be holding down the open spots. Here is the fun part of making lines, apparently you can slot in players anywhere without regard for their actual position. Wellwood's a centre? TSN does not care. Wade Belak is a perennial Leafs' management favourite? TSN does not even include him. Actually, I agree with that. Toss in a new coach and you can see that devising possible lines is a exercise akin to throwing darts in the dark.
James Mirtle asked the question du jour the other day: Where will the goals come from? Well, Raking Leafs thinks that one source will be an improved Kyle Wellwood. Tucker will be trying to show his love for Toronto by at least matching his total of 28 goals. Realistically, the fact that the team has lost big names like Roberts, Nieuwendyk, Lindros, and Allison means that guys that have floated under the radar will have to step up and either match their potential or move on.
Actually, Wellwood, Stajan, Steen, and Ponikarovsky are not on the bubble but they will be expected to improve on their stats from last year. Antropov, however, is probably serving out his last contract with the Leafs if he does not continue on his strong end of season stint with Mats and Poni. To be fair, the Leafs are only looking to replace about 40 goals. A combination of faster forwards teamed with better puck moving defenders should be enough to plug the gap. That and McCabe getting about 7 PPs worth of one-timers a game.
JFJ Mind Games
Howard Berger saw the Machiavellian undertones of Fergie mentioning that both Aubin and Tellqvist might be with the Leafs in some sort of three headed goaltending system. Of course, Maurice would probably hate this because everyone knows that there are only two nets on the ice. Only in adult movies does three go into two and it is just as awkward as trying to split up the practice time for the tenders.
Chances are that JFJ is wary of the chance of losing Telly on waivers for nothing after investing so much time in developing him from a young, scared Swedish goalie that played so deep it looked that he was hiding into a serviceable NHL back-up. JFJ knows that his future lies with Maurice's ability to mould the club into a playoff team so it is in his best interests to leave these decisions to Paul.
Leafs v. Buffaslugs
LeafsTV is having some technical problems but Maurice had a good quotation about the fishbowl that is the Centre of the Universe:
"I know that no matter what happens tonight there will be a three-hour conversation on the radio discussing what tonight's game means to our Stanley Cup aspirations."
GAME TIME! God I missed hockey.