New Videos Up At EA Sports Hockey 101

EASPORTS.COM has 2 new videos up on their Hockey 101 page. Click the here to have a look. This game is shaping up to be one of the most immersive sports games I`ve ever seen. I will probably need to take some time off of work(I guess this game will be the hockey nerd`s equivelant to GTA IV). It`s a good thing that my wife`s birthday falls a few days prior to the game`s September 11th release!


The Stamkos Show

With his first entry level contract signed this morning and all the statements made this afternoon, young Steve Stamkos hit the ice with 28 other prospects at the Tampa Bay Lightning Camp. I watched the 3 fifteen minute periods that ended in a 3-1 win for the black team. Stamkos had a few good rushes, with no points. Everyone on the ice wanted to be the guy who passed the puck to him to see what he would do. This kid is fast, three strides and he's half way down the ice. Another player that people were there to see was Ty Wishart. He's big and strong and likes to carry the puck. He also had a few good rushes that ended with the puck on net. I took this photo with our newest camera and the jerseys seem to be somewhat phosphorescent and give the photos the much sought after "Tron" effect. All the kids seem to have some speed. A few standouts for me were: Derek Lee is a fast Center who can get up ice fast, but is on the small side; Justin Courtnall(Geoff's son) is tall and strong winger who could use some meat but has a good stride and isn't afraid to get his nose dirty. It's a pretty quick amount of time to take in where a player sits in his development. I truly gained a lot of respect for scouts. I'm not sure what else is on the schedule for the prospect camp or whether I'll be able to catch it, but tonight was a blast and I wish there was more things around Victoria like this going on. This also inspires me to get to more Salmon Kings games this year. I will update you on that as the season goies on. Have a great Stamkos day!

Bear Mountain Hockey Central

Last year the Vancouver Canucks held their training camp at Bear Mountain Arena in Langford(a suburb of Victoria, BC). I live ON Bear Mountain which houses a resort. I overlook the 18th tee of the golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus. I found out yesterday on the radio that the Tampa Bay Lightning are having their prospects camp in the exact same location. I will try to get down to Bear Moutnain Arena tonight for the scrimmage. I would imagine, being free, that the turn out will be massive to see Steve Stamkos. Being the massive NHL fan that I am, I just might go down there......MIGHT. Have you tried to drive the Colwood Crawl at 5:30PM?


NHL 09 EA Sports Hockey League

I can't even tell you how stoked I am on the EA Sports Hockey League. I am definitely going to be a defenseman. I play a stay at home style(in real life) and throw the odd puck at the net from the point. I'm going to have to pump my stats a bit(I'm 6', 190lbs), but I'm sure I woun't be the one doing it! Have a look here at the first look trailer for the new feature!


The Year Of The Kab?

Having been a Leafs fan as long as I can remember, it seems that Tomas Kaberle has always been there. The perennial baby-faced boy wonder. 1000's of people yelling "SHOOT!" I have made peace with the fact that he, like Ales Hemski, was born to pass. I look forward to him doing that on a regular basis. To the likes of the 300mph Nicklas Hagman. I have to tell you, I am COMPLETELY stoked for this season. Come August 1st, I am hoping(but I won't be heartbroken) that Sundin will be back for his swan-song and leave a nasty set of records for some other porr sap to truy and break whe I am in my 60's.

Kaberle played his 5th full 82-game season last year and managed 45 assists. He's not Phil Housley, but he's one of my favorites. I still vote for him for the "C" if Sundin doesn't return. Anyone want to fight me on that one? He's too quiet for you? Jason Smith pulled it off for over 6 seasons after another quiet-just-play-by example-guy Doug Weight. So it can be done and with what I would guarantee would be a lot of class.


Coaching Staff Additions

Yesterday the inevitable was announced with the additions of Tim Hunter and Rob Zettle. An 80's/90's tough guy and former Leaf, respectively. Having grown up in Edmonton I have seen a LOT of Tim Hunter(and actually really liked him, not being a huge Oiler fan at the time). The trio had done a remarkable job, with an impressive roster, in San Jose. I'm actually getting more and more excited about this upcoming season(while trying not to be too naive about it). I sure will enjoy our penalty killing percentage go up, that's for sure. WSell, I will be gone to the great outdoors of BC until Saturday, so if anything cool happens, you'll have to text me and let me know!


Reward For A Job Poorly Done

The Maple Leafs will open their 2008-09 season on the road in Detroit on October 9th. This is the night that they will witness the raising of the Stanley Cup Championship banner. I'm not a conspiracy theory guy at all, but IF I WERE I would say that this would probably be as big a slap to the face that you could give to Leaf fans as a scheduler. Creeping into the 41st year of futility, watching a banner be raised(which the Leafs ALWAYS respond poorly to. Any type of pre-game festivities almost always result in a loss for the Leafs. Watch over the season and tell me I'm wrong) for something we haven't even had a sniff at in almost a decade hurts, buddy, let me tell ya. Don't get me TOO wrong here, I hope like hell that it's inspirational for the new crop of Leafs. Maybe management will have a look around at the Detroit organization(which is a veritable Lovefest compared to the rest of the league) and see if they can scoop some ideas for a playing model. The buzz in the building will be unreal, it's something every player should yearn for. I think I may be changing my mind to the thinking that this could be a great night, win or lose! I'm saving my spare change now to get the Center Ice package to watch this game and see where the season goes from there. I'm not planning a parade, but I'm not burrying my head in the sand, either.....Go Leafs Go!


The Woz Is Gone

Perennial bed-crapper Andy Wozniewski has been Picked up by St. Louis. Andy's +5 last year was a surprise when I looked it up, as it seemed every time there was a goal against, you could see he was staring at the ice beside the net. Good luck in St. Louis, I hope you get to play full time and become a more rounded player, Andy. Hopefully this will open a bigger crack for Luke Schenn to get his feet wet.

Free Tickets For The Weary

I found myself needing to comment on the free ticket pre-season game for the fans in Toronto on September 22nd. But I couldn't really wrangle what I was thinking into a coherent thought. The first flash was, "I don't live in Toronto, what have you done for ME lately!?!" Haven't I suffered as much, if not more, than a local Leafs fan? I have to shell out hundreds of dollars to see games on a weeknight on television, I get my news from jaded Toronto Sun writers and from listening to Al Strachan berate every management move(not that I don't agree with most of his views, he just comes off like a "I told you so, I know everything" kinda guy). I also live in a Canucks/Flames/Oilers hotbed and get lambasted for my loyalty to the most hated team in hockey. Seeing the Leafs in Vancouver costs as much as a game in Toronto(you easteners can't complain about that anymore), with the ferry, hotel and tickets. Not to mention the Leafs haven't been here in 4 years with the lockout included. So, where's my salve and bandage, Cliff? Is there an address I can send my application for a free ticket to the game in Vancouver(to be announced today, but I don't have time to wait for the schedule to come out). All the whining aside, I can't wait to see them when they come. I have aquired 3 jerseys since the last time I saw them and may even finish my tattoo(under stipulation of losing weight). The new make up of the team is looking good to me(yes, even Jeff Finger, jerks). Cliff has one more ace up his sleeve, I can feel it. I am one of those that still believe that Sundin may still come back and pad the all-time Leaf stats. Just get him a winger, Cliff, Nik's not ready. And if you don't bring Mats back, give the "C" to Kaberle or Kubina(yes, I like him, he's got a mean streak like Mats). That's all I have to say about that.


Paying Warriors Their Due

In the past, the Leafs have not utilized their minor league veterans for NHL prosperity. As things sit, David Ling had 59 points in 71 games last year and 88 points in 80 games in the 2004-05 season in St. John's. Ling was on a line that season with Kyle Wellwood and helped him to a 87 point season. While it may be beneficial to the younger players on the farm team to have these guys in the minors, what exactly is the trigger to bring them up? Bryan Muir, who was an astounding +23 in 80 games last year, never saw an NHL game. The Leafs had more than one chunk of the season where they were down more than one defenseman in 2007-08. At some point you have to choose whether you are rebuilding or trying to make the playoffs. Every quote I read from Paul Maurice said he was making the playoffs. That means not having a look at a first year NHLer or maybe leaving Colaiacovo in the minors until he proves to be NHL worthy. I'm not knocking Colaiacovo so much as I am saying there are guys who have paid their dues and then some. Give the guys their due(and an NHL paychque or two) .

Holweg Replaces Tucker as Team Pest

Ryan Holweg has replaced half of what Darcy Tucker Brought to the table. Holweg almost exactly matches Tucker's 100 penalty minutes with his 96 PIMs. But Tucker easily trumps Holweg's 4 points with his 34. Now if the Leafs can bring in a 28 goal scorer who can play on the plus side of zero, we will have a complete player. Holweg brings some beef and he's more than willing to drop the gloves. He's another player that brings all 100% every night and isn't afraid to play a little dirty. He'll even take a cross-check in the face for his actions here and there.

I wish Darcy all the best and, like the Ryan Smyth move to Colorado, I'm happy we got his best years before the injury bug took it's toll. Let's sit back and watch to see what Ferguson pulls off next. The 2009 5th round pick from Pittsburgh is actually a pretty small price to pay for a old-time hockey playing brute.


Nieuwendyk Signs As Special Assistant to the GM

One thing is for sure, Joe Nieuwendyk was a hell of a player. He only played one protracted season for the Leafs, but fans hated to see him go. And I, for one, am not impressed that Roberts is still playing and it's not in Toronto(look no further if you are looking for the next TO captain). Thus was the connection between the two. Hopefully Joe can help with all the ridiculousness in the front off(or at least let them know when they're being retarded). I have nothing to go on as to whether Joe has any inkling what to do in a suit. I would be inclined to compare him to Steve Yzerman, and if anything holds true to the comparison, maybe we will see something truly great come of Nieuwendyk in the front office. This may also appear to be a grooming of sorts for Joe to take over next year as GM. I would accept this over the hiring of Brian Burke. But shouldn't they be looking for a true GM. John Ferguson is case in point of trying to groom someone into the job. Especially if they are given "autonomy".


Betting on The Upside

Having just seen the numbers come in for the R.J. Umberger deal all I can say is "Holy Shit". This guy is 26 years old and has scored 49 goals. Now if there was ever a gamble on "upside", this is it(next to the Finger deal, of course). I've always been a fan of looking at things outside of the stats totals. If you watched Umberger pre- and post-concussion you will see that he brings it every shift. He's physical, likes to hit and get hit and doesn't mind smashing his teeth on the odd crossbar. These are some things that translate into thicker contracts. Not necessarily into $3.75 mil/yr, though. Supply-Demand=Million(squared) is a formula I came up with for budding General Managers. Let's see if it makes a difference if anyone tries using it. Oh, I see they are using it for Owen Nolan in the washed out/injury prone category!!!

Matt Stajan Signs Two Year Deal

Good signing for the Leafs and Fletcher. Stajan still has some rounding out to do, but can help on the second line. For you number-crunchers, it was for two years at $1.75 million per year. I'll take Stajjy over Owen Nolan or Todd Bertuzzi (who just signed with Calgary) any day..............

Been A Long Time

Well, Kids, it has been about 4 years since I even attempted any sort of Blogging. I thought, why not get back on the horse with a Blog about my favorite hockey team, the Toronto Maple Leafs. It may be harder for me, being unable to attend games and having to search out any media coverage. But this should be alleviated somewhat by my buying NHL Center Ice this season. This is of course all thanks to my wife's buying me an HD receiver for my birthday to watch the last two rounds of playoffs in Hi-Def. I am sure she will come to regret this decision for years to come.

I'd like to first off give a grand sweeping opinion of Cliff Fletcher; so far so mediocre. He has gotten rid of a fan favorite in Tucker and kept a fan favorite(at least one of mine) in Moore, for very cheap. Jeff Finger was not cheap and I will give that deal until February to see how that comes out in the wash. I like the deal for Niklas Hagman, even for the money, as he's a plugger, has great speed and has a better shooting percentage than Jason Blake. Grabovski could turn out to be a hell of a player. He reminds me of Sergei Berezin, which is a good thing. Hopefully he doesn't go through the cold streaks that Sergei did.

The "Sundin Fiasco" doesn't really bother me that much. Mats has earned the right to do what he's doing right now. It's not like Fletcher is waiting on him, so anyone whining about Sundin not having signed anywhere can officially shut it. Really, it's none of anyone's business what he does, regardless of how long he's been in the league. It's actually one of the things that I admire about Sundin; the fact he couldn't care less what's being written and carries on with life.

Luke Schenn may make the team out of camp. Maybe he could use the wasted roster spot sucked up by Carlo Colaiacovo. Put in 60 contiguous games in the minors and maybe bring Carlo back up after he stays healthy for a while. We need someone big on the blue line knocking forwards on their asses. McCabe hasn't been able to do that consistently since his break out year.

I'm sure I will have more to say in the coming months looking at moves as they happen, but that is all for now. Thanks for reading my innaugual entry and I encourage all input. Good day for the West Coast!