Tag Archives: toronto maple leafs

NHL: Same Game, Different Season

by Brandon Busuttil

With the NHL season underway, a lot happened this off-season but all teams have the same goal: make the playoffs and win the almighty Stanley Cup. So, how have all those off-season moves and predictions been looking after the first few games into this NHL season.

I think it is important to start with the new overtime format. Instead of the 4-on-4 overtime format, that resulted in only 35% of games tied after regulation ending in overtime, and the rest of the 65% of tied games ending in a shootout; the NHL has decided to move to a 3-on-3, 5-minute overtime format followed by a shootout. Overtime periods just got a lot more exciting. With a lot of ice and some of the most talented NHL players in that open space, you can expect a lot more overtime goals, and that is exactly what happened. The excitement about a game going into overtime has gone way up, and now has fans watching with large rushes of adrenaline. The NHL definitely got it right with this overtime format change.

Mike Babcock has moved on from the Detroit Red Wings to the Toronto Maple Leafs. It can easily be determined Babcock gave up success with the Red Wings for a lot more money and a much bigger challenge. The Detroit Red Wings is one of the most renowned teams in the NHL making the playoffs 24 years in a row. Now with a rookie head coach, Jeff Blashill, can the Red Wings keep it up or will they crumble? With the amount of talent Detroit has, along with the fact Blashill coached the AHL affiliate team of the Red Wings the Grand Rapids Griffins to a Calder Cup trophy (much of those players he coached are now playing for the Red Wings), I think the team will be in good hands. Blashill follows a system very similar to Babcock, and if it is truly similar to Babcocks, that means the team will stay successful. So far into the season it has been proven that the Red Wings are exactly where they left off with Babcock, continuing to be successful with two goaltenders whom are good enough to both be starting.

The Toronto Maple Leafs on the other hand, are still struggling. To put this team in perspective, their first line players would be on a third line at any decent NHL team. It will be interesting to see what Mike Babcock can do with this team, but I would not expect a quick fix. Babcock has been signed to a 8 year deal to see if he can be the magician to change this Leafs team around, and it is predicted that it will take a long two or possibly three seasons until we hear of the Maple Leafs making noise in the NHL. This has proven true because the Leafs have continued their losing woes in this 2015-2016 NHL season.

The last big story-line that is looked at is: what is the deal with the Chicago Blackhawks? Coming off of a Stanley Cup championship, can Chicago do it again? Unlikely. They lost some key players due to free agency and trades, but they will still be a force to be reckoned with considering their star players that have stayed are going to make up for the lack of those whom left.

Overall, it should be a great and interesting season this year, filled with some great goaltenders all looking to make a name for themselves and some trying to keep their name as one of the best in the game right now. We have top-notch rookies such as Connor McDavid, whom is compared to Sidney Crosby when he entered the league. Lastly, we have teams that could make a push to be a force this year such as the Florida Panthers, whom have come out this year with a lot of determination and force.

Look for an exciting year of hockey, and one that will probably be filled with the unexpected.

 

The Crashing Toronto Maple Leafs: Is it Really the Coaching?

By Savannah Malnar

The Toronto Maple Leafs have a great history as an Original Six hockey team in the NHL. Unfortunately lately they have had more downs than ups and have not won a Stanley Cup since 1967. With this drought has come a multitude of personnel changes. Toronto fans are used to coaches being temporary, so it was no shock to them when coach Randy Carlyle, coach of only roughly two and a half seasons, was terminated.

His success with the Anaheim Ducks (who he led to a Stanley Cup) did not transfer to the Leafs. Fans and management hoped his defensive mind would bring a new perspective to the Leafs’ locker room, but instead the team only made the playoffs once under his coaching and then in the 2013-2014 season went 2-12 to end the season and fall out of what looked like to be a clinched playoff spot.

This was when management and fans really began to look at Carlyle’s effectiveness. The decision to fire Carlyle followed a barely winning record of 21-16-3 that left the Leafs grasping onto a wild card playoff spot to start the 2014-2015 season; it was most likely heavily influenced by recently hired (as of the end of the 2013-2014 season) President of the team, hall of fame player and previous Director of Player Safety, Brendan Shanahan.

Prominent hockey writer Greg Wyshynski for Yahoo! Sports authored an article titled: “Randy Carlyle fired by Toronto Maple Leafs, finally.” A writer for CBS Sports says this shows the Leafs have “learned from their mistakes.” So it seems the national media agrees with the call. A different view comes from an article from a more local source, the Toronto Star. Rosie DiManno instead goes straight to the top, calling out Brendan Shanahan for not doing enough in his first season as President. She stated she believes General Manager Dave Nonis could be the next piece to go if Shanahan really wants to turn Toronto around. In her words, “And Carlyle, for his sins, was miscast as the old-style coach who could reach deep inside this lineup and come up with a fistful of guts. That’s on management, those who’ve departed and those still here.”

DiManno appears to be among the loyal Toronto fans and media who are desperate for a turnaround for a team with such a strong past. Perhaps Carlyle being sacked will be the beginning of that, or maybe they just have to wait for something bigger.

NHL Honors Canadian Soldiers

By Ellen Chlumecky

October 22nd, 2014 is a date that will now live in infamy in the hearts of all Canadians. At 9:52 a.m. when Michael Zehaf-Bibeau entered the Canadian National War Memorial, everything changed. Zehaf-Bibeau fatally shot Corporal Nathan Cirillo and then attacked the members of the Canadian Parliament. Two days before, a terrorist attack occurred in Quebec which resulted in the killing of another Canadian soldier. This tragic week has hit Canada like a wrecking ball. Citizens of Canada’s lives were put on hold while they tried to absorb what happened. During this time, everyone tried to put activities on hold until people could grasp what had happened, notably they cancelled the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs game.

This Saturday, October 25th the same week of the tragic shootings, Canada held a commemorative night honoring the fallen soldiers at the Ottawa Senators and New Jersey Devils game.  In combined efforts with the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Ottawa Senators and the New Jersey Devils organized the game at Canadian Tire Centre to be a night dedicated to the two Canadian soldiers who had fallen in order to protect others and their country. The ceremony honored not only them, but the Canadian soldiers who were first respondents to both of the shootings.

The Ottawa Senators and the New Jersey Devils stood shoulder to shoulder on the center ice circle for the ceremony. In the middle of center ice were representatives of the Canadian military. The anthem singer sang “O Canada,” which the crowd joined in singing loudly with him. The Senators also showed on the video board the Montreal and Toronto arenas pregame where the crowd sang the Canadian anthem as well.

While the shoulder to shoulder is not something you usually see in these types of ceremonies, it was conveyed a powerful message. That message was the unity of these players symbolized the unity of the players and the unity of America and Canada. This message of the ceremony was to honor the fallen soldiers who gave their lives to protect the lives of other citizens. However, the NHL was also trying to make the statement of unity through hockey.  Hockey holds great importance in Ottawa and Canada as a whole, and for the NHL to come together to show support towards Ottawa says a lot about the power of sports and the compassion that the NHL organization holds for these fallen soldiers, their families, and all that were affected.