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Leafs Beat

A blog on all things Toronto Maple Leafs

Entry archive:

Leafs shaken after brush with tragic events in Ottawa

JAMES MIRTLE

Leo Komarov was first to hear the shots ring out as he sat in Ottawa’s Westin Hotel on Wednesday morning, relaxing after playing the night before on Long Island.

He was startled, and he called over his Toronto Maple Leafs teammates to alert them to what was going on.

Something was wrong.

“He heard it happen,” Leafs defenceman Morgan Rielly said. “We had a peek out his window, and we could see where it was. It was scary.”

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Mirtle: Leafs finally start to flex financial muscle

James Mirtle

It makes little sense even in a salary cap league and even with any other excuse you can think to build in.

Hockey’s top-revenue franchise – a financial giant, really – has been passed by the minnow, at least in terms of amassing and developing some pretty promising young talent.

Which is as vital a part of team-building in the NHL as there is.

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Maple Leafs hire Mark Hunter as director of player personnel

JAMES MIRTLE

Brendan Shanahan’s dramatic remaking of the Toronto Maple Leafs front office continued on Tuesday with another big hire out of the Ontario Hockey League.

After a week-long courtship, the Leafs named Mark Hunter – the long-time owner and general manager of the London Knights – to a newly created position as director of player personnel, giving him some considerable clout in the front office.

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Mirtle: Is the Leafs penalty kill really improved?

JAMES MIRTLE

Early in an NHL season, you’ll hear the same refrain again and again.

“It’s early, so we don’t know if this will continue.”

So it goes with the Toronto Maple Leafs penalty kill, which is back up at more than 86 per cent after bottoming out to third worst in the league a year ago, one area that really hurt late in the year.

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Kessel nets OT winner as Leafs complete comeback to down Avalanche

JAMES MIRTLE

What happens when the unstoppable force meets the immovable object?  

Hockey’s version of the age-old parable unfolded at the Air Canada Centre on Tuesday night, with regression’s past meeting regression’s future, and the question of who exactly would be outshot – in a meeting of teams that seem to always be – would finally be answered.

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Mirtle: Leafs shouldn’t make scratching Jake Gardiner a habit

JAMES MIRTLE

He doesn’t know if he’s playing so there’s little point in asking him.

His coach knows but won’t tell.

Still, let’s assume that Jake Gardiner will in fact be in the Leafs lineup on Tuesday against Colorado and that Randy Carlyle has come to his senses.

Because sitting one of the team’s better defencemen, on a team that needs all the help it can get at the position, makes little sense.

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Late goal lifts Habs past Leafs in season opener

JAMES MIRTLE

No one seems to know how it happened, but so it is.

The surprise feel-good story of the Toronto Maple Leafs season, 5-foot-8 speedster Brandon Kozun, the Californian kid who finally got into his first NHL game on Wednesday night, is carrying the mark of the curse on his back everywhere he goes.

Yes, he is wearing No. 67 – the year of the Leafs long ago last championship – and it isn’t going away, despite protests from fans on sports radio and despite the fact only 14 players in league history have ever worn the weird digits before.

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Maple Leafs cut enforcers, reassign Nylander

JAMES MIRTLE

Believe it or not, the Toronto Maple Leafs won't have an enforcer to start the season.

The Leafs made the last step toward their final cuts on Monday morning, putting Colton Orr, Frazer McLaren and Korbinian Holzer on waivers for the purpose of re-assignment to the minors.

They also reassigned 2014 first-rounder William Nylander back to Sweden for the season.

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Maple Leafs reduce training camp roster by six

DARREN YOURK

The Toronto Maple Leafs trimmed six players from its training camp roster Monday, assigning forwards Petri Kontiola and Sam Carrick, defenceman Petter Granberg and goaltender Antoine Bibeau to the Toronto Marlies.

The team also put forward Troy Bodie on waivers for the purpose of assignment to the Marlies and announced that  defenceman Henrik Tallinder, who suffered a shoulder injury in Friday night’s game in Buffalo, has been released from his professional tryout contract.

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Shoalts: As puck drop nears, Leafs’ biggest worry may just be staying healthy

DAVID SHOALTS

The auditions for the two or three jobs available with the Toronto Maple Leafs were supposed to close Tuesday but injuries, particularly on defence, are holding up the show and creating more employment opportunities.

Cody Franson was the latest of a long line of Maple Leafs to fall at the hands of the Buffalo Sabres. He sustained a leg injury late in Sunday night’s 3-2 shootout win over the Sabres at the Air Canada Centre. Also lost was forward David Booth, who sustained a bone bruise on his foot after blocking a shot. The extent of Franson’s injury is not known but he had to be helped to the dressing room after Sabres forward Torrey Mitchell guided him into a high-speed fall into the end boards.

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Bozak, Clarkson return to Maple Leafs’ lineup in Buffalo

DAVID SHOALTS

The wait is over for Tyler Bozak and David Clarkson.

Both veteran forwards will make their first appearance of the preseason Friday night for the Toronto Maple Leafs after recovering from what the team calls “lower-body” injuries. In the game in Buffalo against the Sabres, Bozak will play between wingers Josh Leivo and Joffrey Lupul while Clarkson will be at right wing with centre Nazem Kadri and rookie left winger William Nylander.

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Maple Leafs trim 13 from training camp roster

DAVID SHOALTS

There were no surprises among the 13 cuts announced by the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday morning.

The moves reduced the NHL team’s training-camp roster to 41 players, including prize prospect William Nylander, although the Swedish forward is still a long-shot to make the opening-night lineup.

Sent to the Leafs’ Toronto Marlies farm team were forwards David Broll, Connor Brown, Jamie Devane, Greg McKegg, Carson McMillan, Brad Ross and Brady Vail along with defencemen Eric Knodel, Andrew MacWilliam, Brendan Mikkelson and Tom Nilsson.

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Shoalts: Reimer’s game is more athleticism than fundamentals

DAVID SHOALTS

James Reimer is keeping a brave face, his only option really, but for him the game has changed.

He may have a new two-year, $4.6-million (all currency U.S.) contract, a promise from Toronto Maple Leafs management the fight for the No. 1 goaltender’s job is wide open (“Yeah, definitely, that’s what I was told,” Reimer said.) and a fresh new attitude toward the employer he wanted to divorce three months ago. But, despite the nomenclature, his role is much different than it was at last year’s training camp.

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Shoalts: Leafs’ preseason win gives Booth and Rielly hope for the year

DAVID SHOALTS

Morgan Rielly and David Booth went into Monday night’s first pre-season game from opposite ends of the NHL spectrum but both were excited to be on the ice for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Rielly, 20, is eager to begin his second professional season and continue marching up the ladder to the success envisioned for him when the Maple Leafs took the defenceman fifth overall in the 2012 NHL entry draft. One year ago, he was the surprise of training camp when he played his way into a regular job at the age of 19.

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Bozak, Clarkson back on the ice with Maple Leafs

DAVID SHOALTS

David Clarkson and Tyler Bozak were both on the ice for the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday but neither player will be in the team’s first preseason game Monday night in London, Ont.

Both veterans missed the first few sessions of the Leafs’ training camp with undisclosed injuries. Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle said the earliest either Bozak or Clarkson will play is Wednesday’s game against the Ottawa Senators but a more likely return is Friday in Buffalo against the Sabres.

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Mirtle: Five battles to watch at Leafs training camp

James Mirtle

Well, we’re here.

Training camps opened across the NHL on Thursday morning with physicals, and as these words are being typed, the Toronto Maple Leafs are going through the paces at the MasterCard Centre out in Mimico.

It’s a fairly slow day as players ease back into things, but come Friday morning, it’s game on. Jobs are on the line for some, both on the ice and behind the bench, and the pace is high.

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The Leafs are deeper, yes, but still have a long way to go

James Mirtle

The good news is this year’s edition of the Toronto Maple Leafs will be different.

No more enforcers, according to every indication from behind the curtain. No more top-six, bottom-six separation, with skill reserved only for the top half of the forwards for some reason.

These are only baby steps in the right direction. But steps nonetheless.

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What should the Maple Leafs do with William Nylander?

JAMES MIRTLE

He was impressive zipping around the rink, making highlight-reel plays and looking out of place – in a good way, as advertised.

William Nylander showed why he is one of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ top prospects on the weekend, playing in only one rookie tournament game as he awaits his first NHL training camp.

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Tim Leiweke on the Leafs: ‘Analytics make us smarter’

JAMES MIRTLE

Leave it to Tim Leiweke to say something interesting and stir the pot a little, just in time for training camp.

This time the Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment president was speaking as part of a lengthy chat he did at Ryerson University this week, and one of the questions he fielded from a student was about the use of analytics with MLSE’s teams.

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With job on line, Carlyle taking no-nonsense approach to Leafs season

JAMES MIRTLE

To hear Randy Carlyle tell it, he read something of a riot act to his team in the off-season.

What happened last year, the Toronto Maple Leafs coach told his players in a sternly worded letter, wasn’t acceptable.

This year, he noted, will have to be different.

“We’ve asked a lot from everybody,” Carlyle said on Monday, as the Leafs reconvened for their annual charity golf tournament. “We sent out basically a memorandum at the end of the season that [stated] the way things were was not going to be good enough for our group.

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