Friedman: Leafs Not The Only Ones in on Nikita Zaitsev

Justin Fisher
October 31 2015 07:12PM

Another Saturday. Another Saturday Headlines segment. Another story about the Toronto Maple Leafs.

This time it has to do with CSKA Moscow's Nikita Zaitsev, who you might remember as the Russian blueliner who visited with the Leafs this past offseason and met with members of both the front office and coaching staff.

At the time, there was some confusion as to whether Zaitsev had signed with the Leafs or not. It turned out that the 24-year old was only visiting and weighing his options ahead of his pending free agency next offseason. According to Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman, Toronto isn't the only NHL club taking a close look at Zaitsev now...

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Rich Clune assessed boarding major for hit on Penguins' Scuderi

Thomas Drance
October 31 2015 05:56PM

Newly signed Toronto Maple Leafs forward Rich Clune didn't waste any time making an impact for the team that decided to promote him from the the AHL this week. It just wasn't exactly the impact he was hoping for.

Clune was running around early, and probably could've been called for a boarding penalty earlier in the period for a questionable hit on Ben Lovejoy. Late in the initial frame Clune finally crossed the line, catching Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi in the numbers and into the boards. 

The referees assessed Clune with a boarding major. You can bet that this hit will be looked at closely by the NHL's Department of Player Safety.

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VIDEO: Leafs fans boo Kessel's first touch of the puck in Toronto return

Thomas Drance
October 31 2015 05:25PM


(Courtesy: Hockey Night in Canada)

The Toronto Maple Leafs were desperate enough to deal star winger Phil Kessel this summer that they agreed to retain salary to facilitate the deal. And it would seem that at least a smattering of the Toronto faithful were cool with that decision.

On Saturday night the Maple Leafs hosted Phil Kessel's Pittsburgh Penguins at the Air Canada Centre, and Kessel was treated to a strong-ish smattering of boos when he first touched the puck, briefly, on his very first shift. You can hear the boos and watch the highlight in the vine embedded above.

Though Kessel is the best Maple Leafs winger in recent memory, the team has elected not to pay tribute to the American-born winger, who for all of his supposed faults was always worth the price of admission when he wore the blue and white sweater.

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LGD: Phil!

Justin Fisher
October 31 2015 01:54PM

It's not the first time the Toronto Maple Leafs have seen Phil Kessel in a Pittsburgh Penguins jersey, but it will be the first time Leafs fans see their former star winger suit up against them in Toronto. On Hockey Night in Canada, no less.

And apparently, there isn't expected to be any warm welcomes. Kessel himself says he expects to hear some boos while the Leafs organization has no plans to honour his return. It's a very weird situation, considering Kessel was very much the best player the Leafs had since Mats Sundin left for Vancouver and wasn't universally loved, but still very much liked.

Besides the drama surrounding Kessel's return, though, there's still hockey to be played. The Penguins got off to an uncharacteristically slow start this year with three straight losses, but have since gone 6-1 and will look to continue their climb up the Eastern Conference standings. The Leafs, on the other hand, have a single win on the season.

Yeah, this should be fun.

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The Leafs should probably give Kessel a montage

Jeff Veillette
October 31 2015 12:27PM

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Photo Credit: Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Maple Leafs are bad at a lot of things. Anybody who has watched the team in the past, well, five decades can tell you that. The team has always found a way to be aggressively bad, or finish their season in catastrophic disappointment.

But man, if they're good at anything. It's honouring players. Even the nobodies. If you play for the Leafs and you come back to the ACC with another team, you better believe that you're getting a tribute on the scoreboard during one of the first couple of TV timeouts.

Unless you're Phil Kessel, apparently. 

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