Archive for the ‘Toronto Maple Leafs’ Category

Nobody is very fond of hearing about a condensed hockey season, unless of course they already lived through the agony of a cancelled year, which is what NHL fans were treated to in 2005.

After months of frustration that mounted from endless meetings that saw issues between the league and players’ association continually unresolved, the thought of  a 2013 season beginning in January was embraced.

And what a season it turned out to be. (more…)

Advertisements

Let the words ‘lock-out’ and ‘Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations’ never be uttered again.

News of a pending work stoppage for the National Hockey League in September was catastrophic, coming eight years after the previous period of such circumstances. Days quickly escalated into months, but we can be thankful that it did not require a full season to solve the dispute between the owners and the Players’ Association.

With the madness behind us and the National Hockey League’s return just days away, fans can relax and finally enjoy the action, soon. On Saturday, 26 clubs are slated to start their campaign, starting at 3:00 P.M. An observer will have the option of seeing the Philadelphia Flyers renew their rivalry with Pittsburgh, a promising all Canadian match-up between the Ottawa Senators and Winnipeg Jets or the Los Angeles Kings raising their Stanley Cup banner prior to hosting the Chicago Blackhawks—the choice is yours.

While some will be bemoaning a 48-game season, there are a few benefits to a campaign of this length for the rabid fan base and the players themselves. (more…)

Joffrey Lupul’s career took a dramatic reversal in 2006 and the worst part is that he had no way of knowing it was in the works or that it would cause a damaging chain of events.

The Anaheim (Mighty) Ducks were Western Conference finalists a few years after their shocking appearance in the Stanley Cup Final, which was pushed by a goaltending feast from Jean-Sebastian Giguere.

A big role was played by Lupul in their 2006 postseason, as the sophomore scored nine goals, four of which arrived in one game against the Colorado Avalanche. In the words of Ian Laperriere, then a forward for Colorado, Lupul was “making a name for himself.”

Anaheim was a well-built club and despite losing out to the Edmonton Oilers in five games, their postseason mettle was growing and another run for the Cup was on the horizon—just not for Lupul. (more…)

As the old adage goes, “like father, like son.”

Mike Foligno, a member of the Buffalo Sabres for a decade that spanned most of the 1980’s, was and still is a popular figure in the city. Receiving five consecutive Frank Eddolls Memorial Trophies at one point, which went to the team’s favorite player, the fans certainly appreciated him.

Unafraid to barge to the net or fight for teammates, Foligno was a scrappy forward who was willing to put himself in danger for the greater good of the club. His 1,450 penalty minutes are second-highest among all Sabre players.

More than that though, the Sudbury native had a great scoring touch, evidenced by his 247 goals with Buffalo. After each one, he’d show his enthusiasm by leaping in the air in celebration. (more…)

Nicklas Lidstrom does not need an introduction. If anything, people are likely running out of superlatives to describe him with.

Put together on one sheet of paper, everything he’s achieved is nothing short of remarkable. Four Stanley Cups, seven Norris Memorial Trophies, one Conne Smythe award, 12 All-Star Game inductions and one Olympic gold medal place him amongst the legends of the sport.

The Calder Trophy was one of the few awards he failed to claim, but that was because his competition was one of the most electrifying players of all time in Pavel Bure. In a dual between a natural scorer and an unflappable defenseman, the scorer was voted as top rookie. It just goes to show you, even a performer with the pedigree of Lidstrom can’t win them all.

Steve Yzerman’s introduction signaled the start of something special in Detroit and Lidstrom is a huge factor in its continuity. Two decades have flown by since the veteran was first positioned into the line-up, during which the Red Wings are yet to come up short of reaching the postseason. Few matters are automatic in this day and age, like someone being fairly suspended by Brendan Shanahan for intolerable violations. One thing you can count on though is that Lidstrom’s name is synonymous with success. (more…)

The 2003 NHL Entry Draft, perceived as one of the best in league history, churned out a bundle of cornerstone players in the first round–a few were also snagged in round two. And to think, such a coveted collection of players was forced to be put on hold for one year due to the lock-out. That distinction should have went to the class of 1999.

Going No.1 overall, Marc-Andre Fleury was chosen to fill the void in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ net. Ask, and you shall receive. The 27-year-old has decently done what he’s supposed to–the Philadelphia Flyers beg to differ– after a rookie season that saw much trial-and-error experimenting within the club.

As the second player to have his name called, Eric Staal went straight to work with the Carolina Hurricanes by amassing 100 points as a sophomore and sparking the group towards a Stanley Cup. Florida picked up Nathan Horton and while he wasn’t exactly a leader, he wasn’t a bust either. Nikolai Zherdev, as talented as they come offensively, didn’t solidify his selection with the Columbus Blue Jackets. (more…)

Surprises aren’t appreciated by everyone; these people are insistent on being told if something is in the works behind their back. With the National Hockey League’s latest campaign coming upon us, it’s a chance to pour over the players who shattered their expectations—if they had some to begin with—and whose presence graced an organization. For someone to be included in this list, it had to be their career-year to date; that goes without saying.

Next, the leap in their maturation must be a significant one—we’re not exactly going to cram in individuals who raised their highest production by ten points. And the key words are the ‘regular season’, as the playoffs are not why we’re gathered here today. No disrespect is intended for Sean Bergenheim or Joel Ward, who fired all calibers of bullets round for round during the postseason.

If surprises aren’t to your liking, do not read past this point. (more…)