If JVR could speak to Gorges (who winds up with Sabres) …

- July 1st, 2014

James van Riemsdyk is given an opportunity to convince Josh Gorges to accept a trade to the Maple Leafs.
What would van Riemsdyk say to the (now former) Montreal Canadiens defenceman?
“I think they have shown here they are willing to do whatever it takes to try to build a winning team, whether it be different things off the ice as far as making it very comfortable for a player to be here, making sure we have everything we possibly need to be the best team, the best players we can be,” van Riemsdyk said during a brief scrum with reporters on Tuesday morning at the MasterCard Centre. “I think they have shown that and once you are here, you really get a great feel for that. But on the other side as a player, he has the no-trade clause, so it is something he has earned over his career and he has the right to use it.”
In other words, about the same things other teams do to make the work environment the proper one for players. Gorges, it has been reported, nixed a trade to the Leafs. And not long after free agency opened, Gorges was traded. But not to the Leafs.
Gorges accepted a trade to the Buffalo Sabres, with a second-round pick in 2016 heading to Montreal.
Participating on Canada Day in the Leafs’ hockey school as a guest coach, van Riemsdyk was asked if he agreed with coach Randy Carlyle’s recent assessment that the Leafs lacked a compete level, and that it was a character flaw.
“Umm, you know what, last year is last year,” van Riemsdyk said. “When you don’t accomplish your goals and you don’t make the playoffs, there are going to be a lot of different things that are going to be said about your team and obviously, we did not perform the way we needed to. So that is pretty much that all that matters at the end of the day.
“You can come up with whatever reasons you want to come up with for it, but we did not get the job done and that is not good enough.”
Experience — and with it, maturity — has been missing from the Leafs. If there’s more of both in the room in the past three seasons, are there the monumental collapses the club endured? The chances of those falls would have been diminished.
The Leafs on the weekend made a trade on the blue line, sending Carl Gunnarsson to the St. Louis Blues for defenceman Roman Polak. More moves are coming, whether through trade or free agency. Names linked to the Leafs include defenceman Dan Boyle and goaltender Martin Brodeur, whose voices in the dressing room would be welcomed.
“Experience is never a bad thing,” van Riemsdyk said. “You look at the (Los Angeles) Kings and what they just did and they have a lot of experienced guys, they have won before. But that being said, they had a little bit older of a team and guys who had been through the battles before. You have to have the right mix of youth and veterans. I don’t think there is a set in stone formula for it.
“We didn’t make the playoffs last year so we did not do a good enough job and when that happens, there is always going to be changes that come, so we have to be prepared for that.”
Entering his third season with the Leafs, the 25-year-old van Riemsdyk already is looking ahead to Sept. 18, the day training camps across the NHL will open.
“It’s never a fun feeling to not make the playoffs and you have that bitter taste in your mouth pretty much the whole summer,” van Riemsdyk said. “It’s good to refresh and recharge, it was a long year with the Olympics. I’m looking forward to coming back and being fully healthy and ready to go.
“Everyone is pretty banged up by the end of the year, so it is always good to have a little time to do what you need to do in the summer to be ready to go when September comes around.”

Video: William Nylander highlight reel

- June 28th, 2014

Until he scores his first NHL goal, William Nylander will be the topic of debate for months, even years, for those in Leafs Nation.

Hey, it’s Toronto. That’s what hockey fans do here. It’s part of living in such a hockey fishbowl like The Big Smoke.

And so, the questions will linger: Did the Leafs make the right choice in taking William Nylander, the son of former NHLer Michael Nylander, with the eighth overall pick Friday night?

Whichever way you are leaning on the subject, we do know this: the kid has raw skill. Lots of it. In fact, the knock on him from some scouts is that he can be too individualistic out on the ice at times.

Maybe. But here’s the bottom line:

You can teach a guy to be more of a team player.

But you can’t teach talent.

And young William has plenty of it.

Click on the following link to see Nylander’s highlight package and you’ll see for yourself just how dominant he can be out on the ice.


Leafs, award votes don’t mix

- June 25th, 2014

LAS VEGAS — Further proof that the Maple Leafs are in need of major improvement wasn’t required.
Still, the point was hammered home on Tuesday night at the NHL’s annual awards show.
No Leafs name was to be found in any of the voting for the league’s major awards. Not even a measly fifth-place vote.
Nothing for goalie Jonathan Bernier in the Hart or Vezina races, despite a .923 save percentage and a realization by anyone who watched the Leafs over a long stretch that if not for their goalie, they would have been out of the playoff race long before an eight-game losing streak did them in.
Nothing for Morgan Rielly for the Calder, even though Rielly had 25 assists in 2013-14, the second-most among first-year defencemen.
Nothing for Phil Kessel, who was sixth in NHL scoring with 80 points. Wait, there was a bit for Kessel. He finished third in all-star voting among right wingers, finishing behind Corey Perry and Alex Ovechkin.
We’re not suggesting that any Leafs deserved to be in consideration for any of the awards, whether it was through 50 votes or 10 votes or one. With the way the club bottomed out in the season’s final weeks, no Leaf deserved recognition.
Personal awards don’t amount to much in the bigger picture — ask the Boston Bruins’ Tuukka Rask or Patrice Bergeron about that, or the Los Angeles Kings, who have the Stanley Cup but no major individual award winners.
Yet the fact the Leafs didn’t garner so much as a hint of consideration for anything should set off alarm bells in the club’s front office. Of course, Brendan Shanahan probably gleaned that not long after he took over as the team’s president in April.
The Leafs have been attempting to be active on the trade front, as they’ve spent much of the spring trying to move up and get the No. 1 pick, with defenceman Aaron Ekblad the prize. Just about every player — except Bernier, Rielly and Kessel — are thought to be available to some degree. That includes captain Dion Phaneuf, who despite signing a long-term contract extension last winter, didn’t garner a single vote for the Norris Trophy. Go figure.
The awards are a measure of the league’s best players and the Leafs weren’t close. You would think general manager Dave Nonis will try to change that in the coming days.

Gauthier lone Leafs pick named to Canada’s summer camp

- June 23rd, 2014

Toronto Sun
No less than 41 players have earned a golden opportunity from Hockey Canada, which released the summer camp roster for the 2015 world junior team on Monday.
All 11 players who were part of the team that finished fourth in Malmo, Sweden, last summer have been invited to the camp, Aug. 3-8 in Montreal and Sherbrooke, Que.
Hockey Canada also announced the camp schedule. For the first time, Canada will play host to an exhibition tournament.
Benoit Groulx recently was named the team’s head coach. His assistants will be Scott Walker and Dave Lowry.
Canada, which has not won gold since 2009 and was fourth in each of the past two years, kicks off the 2015 world junior in Montreal on Dec. 26 against Slovakia.
A total of 22 players will be named to the final roster.

Aug. 3-4: Canada practices in Brossard, Que.
Aug. 5: Canada vs. Czech Republic, Ed Meagher Arena, Montreal, 7 p.m.
Aug. 6: Canada vs. Russia, Palais des Sports Leopold-Drolet, Sherbrooke, 7 p.m.
Aug. 7: Canada vs. Russia, Palais des Sports Leopold-Drolet, Sherbrooke, 7 p.m.
Aug. 8: Canada vs. Czech Republic, Ed Meagher Arena, Montreal, 12 p.m.

SUMMER CAMP ROSTER (with home town, team and NHL rights):
Eric Comrie, Edmonton, Tri-City (WHL), Winnipeg
Philippe Desrosiers, St-Hyacinthe, Que., Rimouski (QMJHL), Dallas
*Zachary Fucale, Rosemere, Que., Halifax (QMJHL), Montreal
Tristan Jarry, Delta, B.C., Edmonton (WHL), Pittsburgh
*Chris Bigras, Elmvale, Ont., Owen Sound (OHL), Colorado
Madison Bowey, Winnipeg, Kelowna (WHL), Washington
*Aaron Ekblad, Belle River, Ont., Barrie (OHL), 2014 NHL draft eligible
Haydn Fleury, Carlyle, Sask., Red Deer (WHL), 2014 NHL draft eligible
Ben Harpur, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., Guelph (OHL), Ottawa
Dillon Heatherington, Calgary, Swift Current (WHL), Columbus
Roland McKeown, Listowel, Ont., Kingston (OHL), 2014 NHL draft eligible
Samuel Morin, St-Henri, Que., Rimouski (QMJHL), Philadelphia
*Josh Morrissey, Calgary, Prince Albert (WHL), Winnipeg
Darnell Nurse, Hamilton, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL), Edmonton
Travis Sanheim, Elkhorn, Man., Calgary (WHL), 2014 NHL draft eligible
Shea Theodore, Aldergrove, B.C., Seattle (WHL), Anaheim
Nick Baptiste, Ottawa, Sudbury (OHL), Buffalo
Sam Bennett, Holland Landing, Ont., Kingston (OHL), 2014 NHL draft eligible
Tyler Bertuzzi, Sudbury, Ont., Guelph (OHL), Detroit
Greg Chase, Sherwood Park, Alta., Calgary (WHL), Edmonton
Michael Del Colle, Vaughan, Ont., Oshawa (OHL), 2014 NHL draft eligible
Jason Dickinson, Georgetown, Ont., Guelph (OHL), Dallas
Max Domi, Toronto, London (OHL), Phoenix
**Jonathan Drouin, Huberdeau, Que., Halifax (QMJHL), Tampa Bay
Anthony Duclair, Laval, Que., Quebec (QMJHL), N.Y. Rangers
Robby Fabbri, Mississauga, Ont., Guelph (OHL), 2014 NHL draft eligible
*Frederik Gauthier, Mascouche, Que., Rimouski (QMJHL), Toronto
Jeremy Gregoire, Sherbrooke, Que., Baie-Comeau (QMJHL), Montreal
Jayce Hawryluk, Roblin, Man., Brandon (WHL), 2014 NHL draft eligible
*Bo Horvat, Rodney, Ont., London (OHL), Vancouver
Morgan Klimchuk, Calgary, Regina (WHL), Calgary
*Curtis Lazar, Vernon, B.C., Edmonton (WHL), Ottawa
*Connor McDavid, Newmarket, Ont., Erie (OHL), 2015 NHL draft eligible
Zach Nastasiuk, Barrie, Ont., Owen Sound (OHL), Detroit
Nick Paul, Mississauga, Ont., North Bay (OHL), Dallas
Brendan Perlini, Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., Niagara (OHL), 2014 NHL draft eligible
*Nic Petan, Delta, B.C., Portland (WHL), Winnipeg
Brayden Point, Calgary, Moose Jaw (WHL), 2014 NHL draft eligible
*Sam Reinhart, West Vancouver, B.C., Kootenay (WHL), 2014 NHL draft eligible
Nick Ritchie, Orangeville, Ont., Peterborough (OHL), 2014 NHL draft eligible
Jake Virtanen, Abbotsford, B.C., Calgary (WHL), 2014 NHL draft eligible

* — member of 2014 team
** — member of 2013 and 2014 team

Leafs open Oct. 8 vs. Canadiens

- June 21st, 2014

The Maple Leafs will open the 2014-15 NHL regular season on Oct. 8 against the Montreal Canadiens at the Air Canada Centre, the league announced on Saturday.
The NHL announced the home openers for each club. Also on Oct. 8, the Boston Bruins will play host to the Philadelphia Flyers, the Los Angeles Kings will begin defence of their Stanley Cup title against the San Jose Sharks and the Calgary Flames will entertain the Vancouver Canucks.
The Leafs will be involved in one other home opener, when they visit the New York Rangers on Oct. 12.
The full 2014-15 schedule will be released on Sunday at 4 p.m. ET.
The list of home openers:

Anaheim Ducks: Friday, Oct. 17 vs. Minnesota
Arizona Coyotes: Thursday, Oct. 9 vs. Winnipeg
Boston Bruins: Wednesday, Oct. 8 vs. Philadelphia
Buffalo Sabres: Thursday, Oct. 9 vs. Columbus
Calgary Flames: Wednesday, Oct. 8 vs. Vancouver
Carolina Hurricanes: Friday, Oct. 10 vs. NY Islanders
Chicago Blackhawks: Saturday, Oct. 11 vs. Buffalo
Colorado Avalanche: Saturday, Oct. 11 vs. Minnesota
Columbus Blue Jackets: Saturday, Oct. 11 vs. NY Rangers
Dallas Stars: Thursday, Oct. 9 vs. Chicago
Detroit Red Wings: Thursday, Oct. 9 vs. Boston
Edmonton Oilers: Thursday, Oct. 9 vs. Calgary
Florida Panthers: Saturday, Oct. 11 vs. New Jersey
Los Angeles Kings: Wednesday, Oct. 8 vs. San Jose
Minnesota Wild: Thursday, Oct. 9 vs. Colorado
Montreal Canadiens: Thursday, Oct. 16 vs. Boston
Nashville Predators: Thursday, Oct. 9 vs. Ottawa
New Jersey Devils: Saturday, Oct. 18 vs. San Jose
New York Islanders: Saturday, Oct. 11 vs. Carolina
New York Rangers: Sunday, Oct. 12 vs. Toronto
Ottawa Senators: Thursday, Oct. 16 vs. Colorado
Philadelphia Flyers: Thursday, Oct. 9 vs. New Jersey
Pittsburgh Penguins: Thursday, Oct. 9 vs. Anaheim
San Jose Sharks: Saturday, Oct. 11 vs. Winnipeg
St. Louis Blues: Thursday, Oct. 9 vs. NY Rangers
Tampa Bay Lightning: Thursday, Oct. 9 vs. Florida
Toronto Maple Leafs: Wednesday, Oct. 8 vs. Montreal
Vancouver Canucks: Saturday, Oct. 11 vs. Edmonton
Washington Capitals: Thursday, Oct. 9 vs. Montreal
Winnipeg Jets: Friday, Oct. 17 vs. Nashville