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Toronto Maple Leafs Are In Need Of A Defensive Specialist

September 5th, 2012 3 Comments

When Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke chose to fire Ron Wilson in favor of bringing in Randy Carlyle there were immediate rumblings that the Maple Leafs would go from a fire-wagon hockey club to one that puts an emphasis on physical play and defense. A quick look at the roster Burke has assembled in Toronto reveals few players with above average physical prowess and no real defensive specialist. Burke made little changes on the backend which makes it tough for us to imagine a team that will improve dramatically in the goals against department. After watching a couple of disappointing seasons, Burke shipped out Luke Schenn to the Philadelphia Flyers in return for James van Riemsdyk. Schenn led the team in hits last season with 270 while finishing third on the team with 115 blocked shots. While Schenn’s

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Is Randy Carlyle The Right Coach For Toronto?

August 22nd, 2012 11 Comments

***This article was originally posted at wwwthehockeywriters.com (Written By: Mark Ritter)*** With his team sinking in the standings and rumors of unrest amongst his troops, Toronto Maple Leafs president and general manager Brian Burke made a tough decision when he fired close friend Ron Wilson in favor of hiring Randy Carlyle as the Maple Leafs head coach on March 3rd, 2012. For the most part it was a popular decision, but there were also rumblings that the crusty bench boss was cut from the same cloth as Wilson (a tough disciplinarian) instead of the players coach some fans the Buds needed. In Wilson, Burke employed a coach who preferred an offense-first approach. Unlike many NHL bench bosses, Wilson had no problem throwing his stars under the bus, which caused more than a few problems. Wilson was also tough on the media,

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Toronto Maple Leafs: Expect To Miss Playoffs

August 20th, 2012 7 Comments

Citing a weak cast down the middle and question marks between the pipes, The Hockey News is predicting another long season for the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Hockey News is predicting the Maple Leafs will finish 12th overall in the Eastern Conference. When you reflect on how many teams in the East have made considerable improvements and the fact that the Maple Leafs will likely enter the 2012-13 season with a near carbon copy of the lineup that finished in the bottom five of the league last season, it is hard to argue with their findings. Everyone knows the Maple Leafs struggles down the middle, and while the addition of James van Riemsdyk to the top-six should help the team, the jury is still out on his ability to make the move from wing to centre—a scenario which has been

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Can Tyler Biggs Supply The Maple Leafs With Much Needed Sandpaper?

August 17th, 2012 3 Comments

When Toronto Maple Leafs President and General Manager Brian Burke signed on with Toronto in November of 2008 he quickly promised that his intentions were to build a team that supplied a considerable amount of pugnacity, testosterone and truculence. Burke followed those words up by bringing in tough guy Colten Orr and signing the on-time feared Mike Komisarek. Orr has since been sent down to the AHL, while Komisarek has had little success since joining the Blue and White. Another Burke acquisition was Mike Brown.  At 5’11” and 205 pounds, Brown has done an admiral job keeping opposing players and enforcers honest.While not a Burke acquisition, Jay Rosehill (6’3”, 215 pounds) made his presence known in a limited role with the big club. That said, neither player has enough skills to garner much more than eight to ten minutes of

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D-Lightful: Toronto Maple Leafs Defense Has A Bright Future

August 16th, 2012 2 Comments

While there continues to be plenty of concern up front and between the pipes, the future of the Toronto Maple Leafs blueline looks solid. Acquired from the Anaheim Ducks in the Francois Beauchemin deal, Jake Gardiner put together an impressive rookie season, registering seven goals, 23 assists and a very respectable plus/minus rating of minus-2. At just 22-years old, Gardiner looks to have a very bright future ahead of him. His smooth-skating style and ability to rush the puck should help the kid they call the “silver stick” earn more power play minutes, which should see his minutes per game climb from the 21:35 he averaged in 2011-12 (third most on the Leafs roster). While an increase in minutes played and/or an increase in power play time does not guarantee more points, penciling Gardiner in for 40 points next season

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Centre Of Attention: What The Future May Hold For Toronto At Centre?

August 15th, 2012 9 Comments

Throughout Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke’s tenure there have been two constants—inconsistency between the pipes and the lack of a number one centre. Without question, both organizational needs are imperative to the teams success which, to the surprise of few, is yet to materialize as the Maple Leafs are yet to make the playoffs since Burke’s arrival in November of 2008. Head coach Randy Carlyle will give off-season acquisition James van Riemsdyk a shot at centre this fall, but with JVR lacking experience at the position there are still plenty of questions to be answered. Tyler Bozak did a solid job as the Maple Leafs de facto number one centre last season, but he too has his shortcomings. Meanwhile prospects like Nazem Kadri and Joe Colborne have yet to demonstrate that they are up for the task. There

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