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Instant Einsteins

March 13, 2011 @ 09:54

The Zdeno Chara / Max Pacioretty incident might go down as the most amazing event in the history of the world.

How many other world events have dramatically increased the intelligence of so many?

Name me one other event that turned so many average men into instant psychiatrists, psychologists, psychics, thought analysis experts and behaviour specialists.

I'm dumbfounded by the number of people who've contributed to this blog over the past few days who can say in all confidence and with the utmost conviction that they knew exactly what was going through Zdeno Chara's mind during the 1.8 seconds it took for Max Pacioretty to kiss the stanchion.

In some ways I feel stupid. All these other people have become instant brainiacs but I haven't. All these other people have been instantly blessed with so much knowledge, and I've been left behind.

I've looked at the video over and over and over again and I can't catch the magic. Still, all I see is a questionable interference penalty and an unfortunate accident.

Meanwhile, good on Don Cherry for calling out Air Canada during Coach's Corner last night. I hope it doesn't take anyone too long to figure out why Air Canada as a business is such a freakin' disaster.

When VP of Communications Denis Vandal threatens to end its association with the NHL because of the Chara hit, you can appreciate how fucked up they are. Especially when you consider Air Canada's head office is in Montreal and Vandal is known for tweeting up to the minute Hab scores.

It was a knee jerk, emotional, homer decision which makes me wonder if I want these people to be responsible for me when I'm 38 thouand feet in the air.

Instead of worrying about Zdeno Chara, Vandal should worry about his airline's shitty service and outrageously unhappy employees.

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And Furthermore - Shut Up Hab Fans

March 12, 2011 @ 08:56

Thanks everyone for your fabulous response to "Shut-up Hab Fans." Not only does it display the passion we Canknuckleheads have for hockey, it also displays what a great country we live in.

When a hockey hit is the biggest issue across the land, you know you live in freakin' paradise.

But beyond that, lets get a grip on this. As expected this has become somewhat of a partisan issue. If you love the Habs, as creepy as that is, you think Chara should hang by the neck until he is dead. If you don't like the Habs, then there was nothing wrong with what happened.

I can see how this is polarizing. But let's cut through the bullshit and see it for what it was, it was an interference penalty that went terribly wrong. End of story.

Some of the stuff that has been written on CanadianThinker is mind blowing, especially the offerings from Freeway Frank who compares it to the Dave Winfield / seagull incident from a couple of decades ago. You know, back around the last time the Habs won the Cup. So long ago it's now irrelevant.

The Montreal Police investigation of the Chara hit is ridiculous, nothing but an emotional over-reaction from a city that's in a snit because there are now players in the league who weren't born the last time the Habs hoisted Stanley.

To compare Winfield and Chara is stupid because I don't think there's anyone in Toronto thinks that Winfield should have been charged. Yes, it was stupid, just like the current investigation in Montreal.

Some take swipes at Toronto using the "army snow clearing" incident that took place several years ago. I always laugh at this one, because it was a good idea. It's important to keep Canada's economic engine revving and the military is there to protect the country. Not only that, but it meant the tens of thousands of Montrealers who have defected to Toronto were able to get to their jobs that day.

The other comparison that has been thrown up is the Doug Gilmour / Wayne Gretzky incident from ancient times, which incidentally (1993) is the last time the Habs won a Cup.

This only underlines the Chara story. Yes, Leafs fans were emotional at the time, and yes they over-reacted, but at least that was an actual penalty that went unpunished. Chara got the penalty he deserved and then some.

Believe me, there's part of me that wishes the NHL has blown this one because I disagree with a lot of what they do, but what was given Chara this week was completely adequate.

When Max Pacioretty decided to take the inside at that particular moment, what did he expect Chara to do, let him skate by?

Chara did what any defenseman would instinctively do but unfortunately the result was disastrous.

Don't blame Chara, blame the stanchion.

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Lumby Weighs In

March 12, 2011 @ 08:55

Meanwhile, to be fair I thought I would highlight the reaction from broadcaster and voice-actor Jeff Lumby.

Lumby grew up in Saskatchewan, but despite that being Leaf territory he somehow became a Hab fan.

"Freddie, Freddie, Freddie. Anyone who thinks this hit was an accident has never laced up a pair of skates. Not only was it intentional, IT WAS A HEAD SHOT!!!! Check out the elbow to the back of the HEAD, subsequently driving his HEAD into the stanchion. Chara should be gone for the season.
Can you imagine the outcry if little Darcy Smucker would have been ridden into the stanchion? Please. Well, if you don't believe Freeway and me, at least believe Henrik Sedin and Joe Thornton. This from the Gazette."

Habs coach hopes for debate on NHL discipline.

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Shut Up Hab Fans

March 9, 2011 @ 18:34

Like most people I'm often left scratching my head when it comes to disciplinary rulings by the National Hockey League, but today I'm convinced they got it right.

Zdeno Chara will not be suspended for last nights hit on Montreal's Max Pacioretty.

If the Chara hit did anything it highlighted why Hab fans are so bloody aggravating.

If there was anything wrong with the incident it was the ten minute misconduct that was given to Chara along with his interference penalty. He didn't deserve it.

This was nothing more than an unfortunate accident. There's no doubt that Chara committed interference, but if anybody thinks he purposely drove Pacioretty into the stanchion to deliberately hurt him is out of their mind.

Then again, most Hab fans are out of their minds.

Zdeno Chara has no history of being dirty and he's never been the subject of supplemental discipline over his 13 year career.

If the same play had taken place anywhere else along the boards it would have nothing more than a routine hockey play with a minor infraction.

NHL Senior Vice President Mike Murphy hit the nail on the head when he released this statement. "I could not find any evidence to suggest that, beyond this being a correct call for interference, Chara targeted the head of his opponent, left his feet or delivered the check in any other manner that could be deemed to be dangerous."

Of course Hab fans aren't buyin' it. Led by my freakish friend Freeway Frank, you'd think Chara was the dirtiest prick whoever laced on a pair of skates. They actually think it was a case of premeditated precision timing.

Chara's good, but he ain't that good.

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Enough Phaneuf

February 27, 2011 @ 19:58

First of all, let's get this out the way. This weekend showed us all we need to know about the Toronto Maple Leafs.

When they desperately needed points during a dreamer attempt at a playoff spot, they lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins farm team and the sad sack Atlanta Thrashers.

This team is not going to make the playoffs because they aren't ready to make the playoffs. They still don't have enough.

Now let me sink my teeth into Dion Phaneuf. If Brian Burke was going trade anyone before tomorrow's deadline, it should be Phaneuf. I realize at five million dollars a year and blessed with very little hockey ability it will be tough, but he should at least try.

Maybe there's a team out that can get sucked in the way Burke did last year. Maybe there's a contender that thinks they can rehabilitate this stiff and re-capture the magic of his first couple of years with the Calgary Flames.

If Burke can turn this six-foot-three mistake into a second round draft pick he should do it. To Burke's credit he didn't give up a lot to get Phaneuf, but what he carries against the cap and the damage he does on the ice makes him a prime candidate for leaving town.

Unfortunately the Leafs have backed themselves right into a corner with this guy. By over-rating him, then signing him and then making him captain they have to justify his existence by putting him on the ice, and I can understand that. But tomorrow's trade deadline could go in a low way in doing something that's very important to Brian Burke, and that's saving face.

By moving Phaneuf for a draft pick he could save the franchise lots of money over the next few years, he'd eliminate a turn-over machine and he'd make the fans happy by adding to the stockpile of draft picks.

It would also give the Leafs the chance to start all over again in the captain process.

We can only hope that there's a team out there that sees something in Dion Phaneuf. Maybe if placed on a better team his shortcomings will be lessened and he could actually contribute.

I wouldn't count on it. After witnessing the captain's performance in a must-win situation against the Atlanta Thrashers, I'd say he's a lost cause.

But maybe, just maybe there's an NHL general manager who thinks otherwise.


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Go Canes Go

February 26, 2011 @ 14:48

I've received a couple of e-mails today from people asking me if I'm going to be pulling for the Montreal Canadiens tonight.

The answer is no.

You see the Habs host the Carolina Hurricanes, and it's the Hurricanes who Leafs are chasing for the final playoff spot in the east. It would only seem natural that I would prefer the Habs to beat the Hurricanes because if the Leafs beat Pittsburgh, they'll only trail Carolina by two points.

But my mind doesn't work that way. Not in this case anyway.

To tell you the truth, I don't care if the Leafs make the playoffs. If they do, what's the point? They'll probably play Philadelphia in the first round and get bounced rather quickly anyway.

Wanting a playoff spot now is exactly what's been wrong with Maple Leaf strategy over the past few years. I'd rather Brian Burke continue on the path of looking at the big picture and conducting his business with an eye to two or three years down the road.

If the Leafs do make it, great, but if they don't, so what.

So do I want the Habs to beat the Hurricanes tonight? Nope. The scenario would have to be a lot more severe than this to ever pull for the Habs, because I'd this point, I'd rather see Montreal miss the playoffs than the Leafs make it.

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Thanks Tomas

February 19, 2011 @ 12:23

I watched a bit of the Boston / Ottawa game last night and it sure was weird to see Tomas Kaberle in a Bruins uniform.

But it was classic case of mixed emotions for me. On one had I felt happy for the guy that he's finally playing on a decent hockey team, on the other hand I had that melancholy feeling.

Kaberle in a Bruins uniform just didn't seem right, and while I kept imagining him lifting the Stanley Cup in that very uniform, I got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.

I'd love to see the guy win a Cup, yet at the same time I'm sick of having to watch former Leafs win Cups in other cities. It's happened too many times over the past half century.

However, the one thing you'll never be able to take away from a Leaf fan is the great memories and moments that Kaberle provided over his dozen years in Toronto. He came out of virtually nowhere to become a stalwart on the Leaf defense, through the good times and the bad.

Unfortunately, the bad times far outweighed the good.

But times changes and now was the time for Kaberle to move on. The deal that Brian Burke pulled off was nothing short of miraculous given what he had to work with, and it will make the Leafs better in the coming years.

And don't forget something that seems to have been lost in the reporting of this trade so far. Kaberle did not agree to a new deal with the Bruins prior to this trade, it was not a condition, so as it stands he becomes a unrestricted free agent this summer.

Tomas Kaberle loves Toronto, and he didn't want to leave the Leafs. Who knows, he might just end up back here this summer.

And if that happens, then Brian Burke should be arrested for grand larceny.

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Why The CFL Can't Be Taken Seriously

February 19, 2011 @ 12:22

The CFL just announced its 2011 schedule and there's a glaring change. There is no Labour Day Classic between the Argos and Ti-cats.

According to the league, due to scheduling problems for the Argos at Rogers Centre, the annual battle between the Argos and Tiger-Cats won't happen this year, but will return next year.

What?

Let's be honest, in Southern Ontario the CFL doesn't have a lot going for it. Both teams stink while getting lost in the sea of other things that this region has to offer in the summer and fall.

However, if there was one thing that the Argos and Ti-cats and by extension the CFL could hold on to, it was the Labour Day Classic. It was one of the few things that actually had re-call for the people of Southern Ontario.

You can't remember the names of the players because they change so often. And you aren't really sure when they're playing from week to week during the summer because the schedule is scrambled eggs.

But if there was one thing you could count on, one thing you could remember, one event that was usually worth considering, it was the Labour Day Classic.

But not this year.

Because the Argonauts are third class citizens in their own ball yard, the schedule dictates that playing a Labour Day game would screw up the rest of their home-schedule, so a valuable tradition will be put on the shelf this year.

Oh well.


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Cox Nails It

February 3, 2011 @ 08:02

"Lindy Ruff revealed this week he declined to sign a two-year extension from the Sabres earlier this season. That might change with the team being sold to billionaire Terry Pegula. But if Ruff is a free agent in June, he will be in hot, hot demand. If Brian Burke decides that's it for Ron Wilson, Ruff would be a perfect fit in Toronto."

Damien Cox wrote this in the Star today and I couldn't agree more. What the Leafs need is a coach who's got a proven track record of developing young players into great players, and that's Lindy Ruff.

If Ruff leaves Buffalo his legacy will be that of over-achieving. He's taken many Sabre teams over the years and led them way beyond where they were expected to go.

Frankly, he possesses all the qualities that Ron Wilson doesn't.

The Leafs have shown absolutely no improvement under Wilson and it's got nothing to do with their talent level. We know its low, but players at the NHL level, regardless of talent, with the right leadership should show some degree of improvement.

Under Wilson there has been none.

Lindy Ruff probably decided not to sign an extension because his time in Buffalo. It's a that old coaching cycle thing. He's been there too long and it's time for a change of scenary.

Problem is, would he want to come to Toronto and take on all the bullshit that comes with it.

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The Shame Of It All

January 31, 2011 @ 08:28

Wow. If there was ever a statement on the Toronto Maple Leafs it came yesterday when Hockey Night in Canada released a Players Association poll that exposed the Buds as a major league burial ground.

Forget the Phil Kessel embarrassment, when over 300 NHL players pick Ron Wilson as the coach they'd least like to play for, and the Leafs as the fourth least attractive market to play in, you know there's big trouble.

The problem for Wilson, Brian Burke and the rest of MLSE is that they can't argue with this result. It's not the opinion of one or two players; it's a consensus of nearly half the players in the league.

The Wilson thing I can see. Burke can promote and protect this guy all he wants, but when you coach the youngest team in the league, and it shows absolutely no sign of improvement, you know they aren't being coached well.

When the power-play and penalty-killing teams are stuck where they were when Wilson first became coach, you know it's not entirely a talent deficiency, it's a coaching problem.

When players continuously follow decent efforts with several bad ones, you know there's a motivation problem, and that's often tied to the guy behind bench.

But forget all that, because the thing that really hurts is the destination issue. It wasn't long ago that the Leafs were a team that everybody wanted to play for. When players were either traded or drafted by the Leafs it was a good thing, but now it's a bad thing and several people have to share in the blame.

Wilson, for having a shitty reputation, Burke for hiring the guy, but most of all the blame has to be placed on the shoulders of Larry Tanenbaum and Richard Peddie who have created this situation and culture over the past decade.

It's absolutely shameful but more than that it's unbelievable. I honestly would have thought it impossible.

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