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Leafs Beat

A blog on all things Toronto Maple Leafs

Entry archive:

Maple Leafs keep focus on the future with Winnik trade

JAMES MIRTLE

Two draft picks is two draft picks – that’s the bottom line.

There has been some confusion in the wake of the Toronto Maple Leafs moving out Dan Winnik, who had been a terrific foot soldier all year.

He wasn’t traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday because he didn’t play well. He did, putting up an impressive 25 even-strength points in 58 games and working his tail off night after night on a bargain-basement contract.

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Shoalts: Kadri and Gardiner need to make a better impression

DAVID SHOALTS

For most of the Toronto Maple Leafs players, and certainly their fans, the results of their final 24 games of the NHL season are irrelevant.

With the teardown of the roster officially approved by the owners, the decisions for the most part have been made on who goes and who stays. The latter is a short list, indeed, consisting of 20-year-old defenceman Morgan Rielly barring, say, a trade offer of the Connor McDavid pick in this year’s NHL entry draft.

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Lineup shuffle fails to pay dividends as Leafs fall to Rangers

DAVID SHOALTS

The Toronto Maple Leafs may be trying to make noise by hiring a music guru to spice up the playlist at the Air Canada Centre but on the ice the song remains the same.

That would be any tune that employs a certain word in the title – I’m A Loser (The Beatles), Loser (Beck) or Lonesome Loser (Little River Band) for starters. The familiar refrain was there again Tuesday night, as the Leafs followed up Saturday’s big win over the NHL’s 29-place Edmonton Oilers by going through the motions in a 5-4 loss to the New York Rangers.

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Mirtle: Maple Leafs trying to right ship, but fans want team to tank

James Mirtle

‘Obviously it’s our fault.”

Dion Phaneuf paused and let out a short sigh before he said it. It wasn’t easy. It hasn’t been easy, especially as he’s sat on the sidelines with an injury.

The Toronto Maple Leafs season is over from a playoffs point of view, but there are still months to go, 30 games to play and hundreds of questions to come every day after these practices and games.

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Have Leafs fans finally had enough?

JAMES MIRTLE

Truth be told, this was likely the most entertaining game the Toronto Maple Leafs have played in quite some time.

It was close. There were lots of chances. And the result was on the line almost right to the end.

For a huge portion of the fan base, however, all they cared about was the result.

They wanted a loss. They want Connor McDavid – or at least a reasonable shot at him.

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Maple Leafs’ confidence sagging to all-time low

JAMES MIRTLE

After a while, I’m sure guys lose their confidence.”

Joffrey Lupul had been out of the lineup since Dec. 31, a span where his team has had one of the worst months in NHL history. But he could see what was happening from the sidelines and gave the most honest assessment after yet another loss Thursday, this time to the Arizona Coyotes, one of the few teams still behind them in the standings.

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Leafs stretch their losing streak to eight games

JAMES MIRTLE

The sequence was a telling one as far as how things have gone for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Phil Kessel got the puck, and he fumbled it away in the neutral zone. Then he got it again and flubbed another pass. And another.

He glumly went to the bench.

This was the first period. It was scoreless against the bottom feeding Arizona Coyotes. There was no reason to be down. But the Leafs looked it.

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Mirtle: Dion Phaneuf’s injury is a blessing for retooling Leafs

JAMES MIRTLE

This one was tough to watch.

It’s not so much that the Leafs played poorly on Wednesday as it was simply a poor excuse for a hockey game, one where very little happened and where two struggling teams met in a meaningless battle in late January in Newark, New Jersey.

A game that goes scoreless until deep in the third period between two teams that have little more to determine than draft position is rarely a barn burner.

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Mirtle: Leafs season-killing losing skid hitting new levels

JAMES MIRTLE

Add another loss to the pile.

It has been almost 25 years since the Toronto Maple Leafs have had a skid this long and this deep. Months after the death of owner Harold Ballard, his influence lived on with the so-called curse, as they started the 1990-91 season with four wins in their first 26 games (4-21-1), the last period of sustained un-excellence matching this one.

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Mirtle: Can the Maple Leafs get Connor McDavid?

JAMES MIRTLE

There comes a point for any losing hockey team when the fan base stops looking up the standings at what it will take to make the playoffs.

And starts looking down.

These are the sort of dark thoughts percolating in Toronto these days.

As has been well documented, the Maple Leafs can’t buy a win. Or even a goal. After getting only six of a possible 32 points out of their last 16 games, they have fallen from the NHL’s top 10 into the bottom 10 in five weeks.

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Mirtle: Leafs have made collapsing the franchise’s hallmark

JAMES MIRTLE

There were jerseys dropping on the ice left and right, as three disgruntled fans threw them over the glass and were escorted out by security.

The players’ heads were bowed.

And the fans – the ones that were left in the Air Canada Centre – were booing.

We have been here before with the Toronto Maple Leafs. We’re here again.

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Mirtle: Leafs blown away by Staal, Canes

JAMES MIRTLE

There he was, in the flesh, skating and scoring and leading the Carolina Hurricanes to another win: Eric Staal, the coveted captain, a big, veteran centre who could well have a new home in the near future.

Which obviously will pique the interests of Toronto Maple Leafs fans. (Those not sleeping in their Air Canada Centre seats, anyway.)

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Maple Leafs try to keep morale up as playoff chances sag

JAMES MIRTLE

When Peter Horachek took the podium, his voice was down to a croak, presumably the result of a nasty January cold.

Or screaming himself hoarse at the Toronto Maple Leafs. One or the other.

One of the first questions he was asked on Monday as his team finally returned home from their ugly 0-4 trip was how is the morale around his team, which has gone 3-12-0 on a disastrous slide down the standings the last month.

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Mirtle: Leafs defensive game dramatically improved despite loss

JAMES MIRTLE

This was the kind of game Brendan Shanahan was looking for.

Even though it ended with a loss.

Expectations were low with the Toronto Maple Leafs facing the defending Cup champs in Los Angeles on Monday night, and there was a brutal start, with Anze Kopitar scoring 37 seconds in as Toronto was running around in its zone.

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Mirtle: Is Leafs prospect William Nylander ready for the next level?

He was fourth in the Swedish Hockey League in points per game, with 20 in 21.

He was the highest scoring non-Canadian player at the world juniors, with 10 in seven.

Now William Nylander is taking his talents to North America and the American Hockey League. But not the NHL.

Not yet anyway.

Some of this is simply about playing time. Nylander’s Swedish team, MODO, has only 20 games left; the Toronto Marlies will have 37 in the regular season alone by the time he arrives next week and look poised to make the playoffs after going 6-0-3 in their last nine games.

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Shanahan puts Leafs core players on notice

JAMES MIRTLE

I’ll be watching you.

That was the gist of Brendan Shanahan’s message at a hastily called press conference on Friday afternoon, as he explained the remaining 41 games of the season will be used by management primarily to evaluate the Toronto Maple Leafs top players.

After firing coach Randy Carlyle on Monday, Shanahan said it’s the roster that is now in his crosshairs.

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Mirtle: Leafs now on outside looking in at playoff picture

JAMES MIRTLE

It took a 22-day stretch with only two wins, but the Toronto Maple Leafs are no longer in a playoff spot.

After their 6-2 loss to Washington and the Bruins 3-2 win in overtime against Pittsburgh on Wednesday night, the Leafs awoke Thursday in ninth in the East with 45 points in the first 41 games of the season.

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Leafs lose to Capitals despite coaching change

JAMES MIRTLE

It didn’t take long for the tweets to start filtering out.

With the Toronto Maple Leafs down early, and eventually by a few goals, fans began peppering social media with two words on the first night for new interim coach Peter Horachek.

“Fire Horachek.”

Tough crowd.

Sure, comments like that were mostly made in jest, but it’s fair to say Wednesday’s 6-2 loss to the Washington Capitals wasn’t exactly the result the organization was hoping for after the divorce from Randy Carlyle a day earlier.

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Mirtle: New coach means new lines for Leafs, Kessel

James Mirtle

Rightly or wrongly, the focus is all on Phil Kessel in the wake of the Toronto Maple Leafs tossing coach Randy Carlyle overboard on Tuesday.

The new guy has some new ideas for Kessel, too.

It was a busy day in Toronto as they officially named Peter Horachek, an assistant, as the interim head coach and moved player development advisor Steve Staios behind the bench.

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Maple Leafs name Horachek interim head coach

Stephen Whyno

Change is coming at some point down the road for the Toronto Maple Leafs, on the roster and the coaching staff.

The immediate future belongs to Peter Horachek, who was named interim head coach Wednesday morning in the aftermath of the firing of Randy Carlyle. There could be a plethora of changes before the March 2 trade deadline and after the season, but the next phase is one of discovery.

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