July 04 2012 11:37AM
Photo source: hockeyfans.ch
At first blush, this idea made all the sense in the world to me; I felt that it had the potential to fix so many of the NHL's current woes. Maybe the league wouldn't have to be constantly changing rules if it could just increase the ice surface.
I know what you're thinking: this was an unrealistic prescription from the get-go. The NHL would never expand its ice surfaces. Teams would lose important rows of expensive seats, and sight lines might be ruined in the upper bowls. The short-term cost of renovations would be steep, and the long-term loss of revenue from seats would be unpalatable to owners, many of whom are already in tight to keep their teams in the black.
But I'd like to focus on what it might actually do to the game itself, for a moment. I've taken to examining what European statistics I can get, and have enlisted the help of European hockey journalist Risto Pakarinen (@puckarinen).
July 04 2012 02:44AM
In a conference call after his acquisition of James Van Riemsdyk, Brian Burke mentioned that Nazem Kadri could be looked at to fill a spot at centre ice for the Maple Leafs next year. This might be somewhat surprising to some, as Kadri has played on the wing for nearly every shift of his pro career.
However, during the Calder Cup Playoffs this year Kadri was switched to centre where he obviously impressed Burke with his performance. Actually, it would be tough for anyone not to be impressed with his performance seeing as he was an integral piece to the Marlies Calder Cup final berth (which he unfortunately didn't play in due to injury). He scored three goals and 10 points in 11 AHL playoff games.
Leafs Nation Podcast
July 03 2012 05:26PM
As you might have expect, this week Danny Gray and I chat about two main topics: free agency and Mats Sundin. We review Brian Burke's progress with the lineup so far this off-season, and attempt to determine what the next focus should be for a trade. You might be surprised at our conclusion, there.
July 03 2012 11:26AM
What shocks me the most about living in Toronto is the way people view Phil Kessel. I've gone on about this topic before in this space. Basically, Kessel's portrayal in the Toronto media borders on unfair, but the reality of the situation is that Kessel isn't a play-driving, two-way winger and his line needs a centreman to improve its defensive play.
I've also wondered aloud on occasion as to whether a winger exists at the NHL-level that can score a high number of goals and be good enough defensively, to be the sort of player that Toronto fans expect. I found one after a search.
July 02 2012 01:13PM
If the Leafs seek to improve their Top Four defencemen via trade or free agency, it will be a surprising move, given Brian Burke's recent comments about the teams situation. In the July 1 conference call [transcript here] Burke suggested that it was a "lower priority" to upgrade the D. This doesn't match my own individual assessment of the team. There are still some possibilities for free on the market that the Leafs could bring in to upgrade the Top Four.
It's true that the major hurdles for the team are centre and goaltending, but the fact is that Toronto doesn't have four defencemen who have shown the ability to play Top Four minutes in the NHL.