Tuesday, September 11, 2007

2007-08 Preseason Foreplay: Toronto Maple Leafs

This is confusing on so many levels... and somehow completely accurate
Quick hits
  • The Leafs are my personal favorite for being the next Canadian team to choke in the Stanley Cup Finals.
  • Toronto Maple Leaf greatest hockey team in the world,
    All other teams are run by little girls.
  • GM John Ferguson is determined to hold Sean Hill accountable for the Leafs' playoff misfortune last season.
  • An astounding 57 players and front office personnel that have spent time in a Toronto uniform are currently in the Hall of Fame.
  • The franchise has been around since 1927, but has only had 16 different captains.
  • Mats Sundin is 8 points away from topping Darryl Sittler and becoming the franchise's all-time scoring leader.
  • Last season, Andrew Raycroft tied the franchise record for goaltender wins in a season with 37.
  • Dubious Record of Distinction: Bob McGill holds the franchise record for most consecutive games without a goal at 198.
Odds for the folks at gambler's anonymous

12 to 1: Jason Blake will still look like a fetus when he dons a Maple Leaf sweater.

25 to 1: You can't pronounce Colaiacovo.

Obligatory serious analysis

The Leafs missed the playoffs by a mere point last season, and they were not too happy about it. After all, who wouldn't pass up the opportunity to get spanked by Sabres in the first round? The Islanders sure enjoyed it, that's for sure. It's safe to say that, on paper, the Leafs should be more improved this year, but not so much that they will miss out on the opportunity to be the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference.

On the way out this summer were Mike Peca, J.S. Aubin and Yanic Perrault, all of whom should not be missed greatly. To fill the gaps left by those players have come a multitude of talented ice hockey players, including Jason Blake, Vesa Toskala, Mark Bell and perrennial Martin Broduer seat warmer; Scott Clemmensen. Clemmensen and Toskala should provide Raycroft with some healthy competition in camp, but the challenge will probably come from Toskala, who showed he can hold his own in the NHL last season. As for Bell, well, he's not going to be playing for a while. On a more positive note, Jason Blake should be a welcome addition of speed and goal scoring to the Toronto offense. The Leafs had the 8th most goals scored in the NHL last season, but their second and third highest point producers were defenders Bryan McCabe and Tomas Kaberle. The addition of Blake will hopefully take some of the offensive pressure off of those two, allowing them to help out a defense that was 25th in goals against last season.

In my book, Toskala should overtake Raycroft for the starting job this season, which will certainly help to improve the Leafs. Along with Blake's presence up front, this will be a better version of the Maple Leafs -- albeit one that still has some holes to fill on the blue line. If they can bring in another solid defensive player, they could find themselves as high as the sixth spot this season. Down the road, the future is not so bring. Jason Blake and Mats Sundin are on the older side of things, and the Leafs are going to have to find players to fill those gaps. Kyle Wellwood looks to have the potential, as he scored 42 points in 48 games last season. That nearly matched his 81 game total from the prior season.

Prediction: The Leafs will be improved, but it will be a marginal improvement at best. Right now, I would slot them in the seventh or eighth spot in the East when everything is said and done. If I had to choose, I would put them in the eighth spot.

The best looking ice girls in Toronto
All of these teams that don't have ice girls are really starting to piss me off. They are making doing these season previews harder and harder. Jerks. So here's your six degrees of separation, or whatever you want to call it for the Maple Leafs. The University of Toronto Gospel Choir made an appearance in the movie The Wishing Tree, which starred Alfre Woodard, who made five appearances on Desperate Housewives last year, which stars Eva Longoria. Therefore, the Toronto Maple Leafs are only six degrees away from Longoria. And there's nothing wrong with that.

Previous Editions of Preseason Foreplay

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