Tuesday, March 16, 2010

St. Patty's Day

It has been quite a few weeks, what with the Olympic break, and then just the lack of inspiration to be found in a Leafs team destined for golf in April - but what kind of Irishman wouldn't celebrate an Irish themed blog on today of all days!

As if the mere existence of the day wasn't enough, perhaps you may still require a reason to drink. A justification, if you will. As far as I'm concerned, one can drink for three reasons: to drown our sorrows, to celebrate our victories... or because we're thirsty. On today of all day's, there's always a reason to celebrate. And if you're a Leafs fan, though these reasons are hard to come by lately, they're there. I know I'll be celebrating today, and for each green beer that goes down, I'll be thinking of one of the following reasons to be cheerful.

Nikolai Kulemin - Spoken of far and wide throughout the Barilkosphere, this man has been hailed as our subtle saviour (well maybe not that much, but damn he's been good). One may have thought that the discussion regarding this man's awesomeness would have gotten tiresome, but Lord knows I still smile every time I hear of it. 6 game point streak: means if you're a Leafs fan, 6 green beers to celebrate.

Bozak and Kessel - On the same line as Kulemin, the lines are blurred as far as determining which one makes the other look better, but we have what feels like a real first line for the first time all season. Cheers one for each of the kids.

Wilson - Not often considered to be a reason for cheering this season, as some of us even called for his head when we dropped our first 8 games, but something has to be said for the way he's getting what should be an AHL team to play pretty well since the trade deadline. There's borderline sloppy play at times, and God knows what the hell is going on with the powerplay, but we're getting points. Plus, he took an inexperienced Team USA to the finals. It's still tough to see if he will be the guy to carry us back to contention, but he gives us some reason to hope. Have at least one beer for the men behind the bench.

Gustavsson - To be entirely honest, he's not done nearly as well as some of us hoped he would at the beginning of the season, but he still helped us wallop the Snes. That deserves at least one beer.

Speaking of which....

Beating the Snes! - Those bastards. A 4 game winning streak against them earns 4 drinks today. Plus one for each time you'd like to see Neil and Alfredsson receive a similar fate as Carkner has this season.

6 points - That's all that separates us from getting out of the bottom three. There's only 12 games remaining, and Carolina has been hot lately, but it's not impossible. I can already anticipate the collective sigh of relief if we climb out of the bottom 3 from Leafs Nation. Kessel was 5th overall, so if we give up the 4th pick, it's not nearly as big a deal. We'll need some good luck to get this done, so 6 beers to be drank by Leafs fans for each point we need to climb up the standings (if you're really thirsty, only 8 points separate us from getting out of the bottom 5, so drink up).

Burke - The Irishman in charge. He's had a rough year with his team underperforming dramatically, trumped entirely by the loss of a family member, but he's trucked on and tried to take the good out of the loss of Brendan. Now a symbol of gay rights, plus a blockbuster trading fiend, have a few drinks in honour of Burke, who - despite getting us off to a rough start - still gives Leafs fans a reason to hope.

So if my math serves me correctly (and it rarely does), we're all drinking a shitload tonight. Goes without saying, but find a sober ride home and no matter what you end up doing, a sincere happy St. Patrick's Day to everyone.


Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Trade Winner

It's been one game. As such, it's tough to already evaluate a trade (even though some people may already sense a bit of crazy in one of the GM's involved), but what fun is it if we don't try?

The Phaneuf deal and its winners and losers has been beaten to death, but after one game there have been some subtle changes on the Leafs team that are worth discussing. This brings me to my selection for the big winner of the trade: Luke Schenn.

Is it just me, or did he play Tuesday night like someone who recently had a boulder surgically removed from his shoulders? Nothing flashy, but he looked like the Luke of last year. If this positive play continues, it's hard not to believe that Phaneuf's arrival has played a big part in Schenn's mental aspect of his game. Yes, he's been playing better as of late even prior to the trade, but it still has to come as some relief for Schenn to know that he is not the ONLY young, hotshot defensemen anymore.

Komisarek and Beauchemin's arrival did little to stem the regression of Schenn, but Phaneuf's arrival may be different. Even with the changes made to the defense in offseason, many still pegged Schenn as the future of the team. The cornerstone of hope which could be relied on for years to come. The next man to lead this team following Sundin's departure. I'm not saying he isn't any of these things, but for a 20 year old to have someone only a few years his senior, who plays a similar aggressive style and comes from a similar hockey background, arrive on the team and have the similar long term potential as far as leading the team, it has to be a relief to know he won't be the only man blamed if the team doesn't perform the way it should.

It's all guesswork on my part, but after one game everyone seems to sense a different atmosphere surrounding the team. For someone who's struggles this year seem to primarily be mental, this can only be a good thing.

Monday, February 1, 2010


It can be argued that the Toronto Maple Leafs are - and have been for over forty years - lacking in luck. In fact, I believe there are few who could argue against this. Yes, the team and the fans have lately been subject to poor management, lack of talent, and perhaps "blue and white disease," but, our lack of winning for over 4 decades can almost singlehandedly be blamed on a complete lack of luck. Still, we had our lucky moments (like a delightful collection of post-season Snes matchups), but never when it mattered most. But at least we weren't Red Sox fans pre-2004.

I present to you Exhibit A.
(You probably know what it is, and if you do, save yourself the anguish).

Thanks to DGB for the link. Yes, Kerry Fraser's douchebaggery clearly played a large role, but it may all be boiled down to piss poor luck.

I could provide a large list of such unlucky occurrences, but I would prefer not to subject the readers to such a collection of sorrow, as they likely could make a more thorough list themselves without my help.

Think of the last time the Leafs were a competitor. Who ran the ship? Irishman Pat Quinn. Since then, it has been a slew of disappointing seasons. As such, I have taken it upon myself to write at this time not only because I have been recently inspired by reading a number of Toronto bloggers (to list them would take far too long), but also because I honestly believe we are on our way to something big. And who is the captain of our ship now? Irishman Brian Burke.

Say what you will about the Irish (for example: "Burke must have been as drunk as an Irishman when he made that trade." And, for the record, he probably was), but there may be something to this.

Is it a coincidence that the beloved Toronto Maple Leafs were once known as the Toronto St. Pats? Is it coincidence that Conn Smythe himself was Irish? Is it coincidence that AHL All Star Christian Hanson played for the Fighting Irish? Is this all the luck of the Irish? Probably not... but wouldn't it be awesome if it was?

Every move Burke has made lately - particularly the most recent Phaneuf move - is high risk/high reward. Burke is gambling here, and what's the key to a successful gambler?

A proven system.

But if you don't have that, you damn well better be lucky. Here's hoping we've got one of the two.