Saturday, August 30, 2008

Women That Compete Are Magnificent

I have an idea that I'd like to share with everyone, but first a confession. (To skip my confession and avoid the version of my idea where I ramble on and pretend like I'm talkin' to friends, scroll down to the bottom for the short version under summary.)

The Confession

I like a few sports other then hockey. Not many, but a few. I like soccer, women's soccer, indoor women's volleyball, women's beach volleyball (though not as much), and of course, women's hockey. (I also like roller derby but I'm not sure that counts as a "sport") I don't follow any of these sports religiously, but when they're on TV, I watch. Did anyone notice a pattern? I guess you could say, I like to watch women compete. It's true, I am a heterosexual male, so you might think I'm coming at this from the wrong direction, but let me just say this: Women are awesome. Women are amazing. Strong women, creative women, intelligent women, confident women - those are my favorites. A woman with soul and courage and determination makes my heart melt. Women that compete are magnificent.

I found Manon Rheaume fascinating and attractive. I think Cassie Campbell is cool. Haley Wickenheiser is awesome and makes me proud. (Not to mention's Kara Lang's performance at the Olympics. Wow.) So think what you will, but I mean this with the best of intentions:

The Idea

A National Women's Hockey League with a massive promotional push and deep, deep infrastructure. Something comparable to the WNBA, but less clumsy, far fewer teams, and no basketballs.

I'd like to see a six-team super-league playing a 40-game schedule with the best 150 female hockey players in the world. The six teams should play in the Original Six cities; Toronto, Montreal, Detroit, Chicago, Boston, and New York. Calgary and Vancouver are too far off and the travel is too expensive, although the Western Women's Hockey League seems to be the stronger of the two women's professional leagues currently going. The West Coast might have the jump on the East Coast, but it's nowhere near where it should be, and if there's going to be one dominant league, the money is in the east. In time, the two leagues can merge and have some sort of Women's World Series Super Final.

Television exposure is a must. It has to be enormous. Regional and National. I also want to see local media throw their support behind the teams the way they have for Toronto FC and Toronto Rock, and treat the sport like any other big-time sport, with the same class and integrity. On second thought, more so.

I think that with the right attitude and ambition, women's hockey could be a winner. I, for one, could watch a lot more hockey, while paying less attention to the NHL. I'd still follow the Leafs just as much , but the NHL has had my last dollar, and if it ain't free, I ain't buyin' it, and you can't trick me into buying other stuff to get the stuff you say is free. (The funny thing about Coca Cola Zero is that's exactly what I think it's worth.) As long as ticket prices remain somewhere between Blue Jays and Marlies, count me in for at least a few games a year. Not to mention buying a jersey for my wife every birthday and Christmas. Wait, I have a 1-year old daughter, are you crazy?! I'd blow $500 a year on merchandise, if there was a National Women's Hockey League. T-shirts, caps, toques, or anything with a cool team name and logo on it, for the next 17 years! My girl wants to play in the Big League. She doesn't know it yet, but I'm guessing it's true.

The calibre of hockey in a six-team women's league would be exciting and skillful. It could also be a different league with its own variations on the rules (no-touch icing, all games have 3-point value, or conversely - have ties and kill the shoot-out). Fan-emphasis should be placed on players' stats, and every record established as if it has historical significance, because, if done right, it will. The game will have its own stars, and eventually, its own legends. The women that lead, that inspire, with charm and grace and character should be celebrated, in any sport, or any walk of life, but women that play hockey are freakin' wicked-amazing and I want to see more.


Women's Professional Hockey League.
Six-team Super League in the Original Six cities.

(One more link: It was hard to find a hockey blog dedicated to women's hockey only, but here's Total Female Hockey - it's kind of intense. There should be more blog's dedicated to the terrific women who play the greatest sport ever.)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Stuff I Learned This Week

So, Bob Gainey is getting a little impatient waiting for Mats Sundin to make his decision, but how does he think I feel? If he'd only listened to me back on June 21st, he'd have known that Mats didn't want to be disturbed during his vacation. If, like most people in Montreal, he missed that post, he should've at least seen the one from July 9th that was addressed directly to the beautiful french city. Meanwhile, The Blood Of My Chief, Vol. IV is indefinately delayed, which means I've had to scramble my schedule, and led to me posting a ping-pong video as a Fanshot at Pension Plan Puppets. Hopefully, in time, Chemmy will forgive me, but at least I didn't post the Curling video or the guy who catches foul balls for a living video that I had lined up.

So this week some clever bloggers have been helping me relieve my frustration with a couple of rounds of trivia! The first one appeared at DownGoesBrown, and then the second (and vastly more challenging) one was posted by 1967ers at (where else?) Pension Plan Puppets. Loser Domi also re-introduced me to an old-fashioned method of relieving frustration, but that only led to some bizarre fantasies which now I wish I'd kept to myself.

So for this post I've decided to do something similar. I found a cool site - This Date In Leaf History - which you can read yourself if you want, but I've highlighted a few of the more interesting and obscure Leaf facts here for all of us to enjoy.

Did you know? - In 1930, King Clancy was purchased from Ottawa for, what was at the time, a huge amount of money, $35,000. The team's Board of Directors, however, balked at that amount and would only contribute $25,000. The remaining $10,000 came from a longshot bet on a race horse owned by Conn Smythe, named "Rare Jewel".

Did you know? - In March, 1934 the Leafs celebrated St. Patrick's Day with "King Clancy Night" at the Gardens. Clancy was honoured at centre-ice in a throne with ski-blades for legs, and wore a green uniform with a large shamrock on the back. The game began with Clancy wearing the green uniform, but NYRangers coach, Lester Patrick, complained that the uniform was a distraction and Clancy had to give up the green jersey for the regular Blue and White.

More King Clancy. Did you know? - For a short time in the 1930's, NHL goalies were required to serve their own penalties and a player was then forced to play goal while the team was shorthanded. During the 1930-31 season Clancy stood between the pipes, for the penalized Lorne Chabot, for 1 minute, allowing 1 goal. Thus, he is credited on the Toronto Maple Leafs Goaltending History website with a GAA. of 60.00! Other Leaf skaters who collected goaltending statistics are: Alex Levinsky, Red Horner, and finally, Charlie Conacher, who played 7 minutes in net spread over two seasons and never allowed a goal.

Did you know? - In 1948, in Syl Apps' final regular season game, he scored a hat-trick to reach exactly 200 career goals.

Did you know? - In 1951, the Leafs participated in the first ever "televised" hockey game, against the Montreal Canadians. The game, which the Leafs won 1-0, was a "programming experiment" witnessed only by CBC's employees.

Did you know? - Hap Day is the only human being in history to serve as Captain of the Maple Leafs (1927-37), Head Coach (1940-50), and General Manager (1958). This link here is a list of all Leaf Captains, head coaches, and GMs. Check it out.

Did you know? - In 1988, two days before New Year's Eve, Gary Leeman and Ed Olczyk teamed up to tie an NHL record by scoring 2 goals only 4 seconds apart, in a 6-5 victory over the Nordiques in Quebec City.

Did you know? - Most people think that the Leafs have not appeared in a Cup Final since 1967, however in 1993, the Leafs played 2 exhibition games against the New York Rangers at Wembley Arena in London, England, losing both contests. The Rangers were declared the winners of the "French's Cup", which makes absolutely no sense. Who knows whatever became of that stupid, inappropriately named trophy, and who cares.

Did you know? - In 1994, Felix "the Cat" Potvin became the first Leaf player ever voted to the starting line-up of an All-Star Game. Hard to believe.

Did you know? - In 2006, the NHL halted regular season play to allow NHLers to participate at the Olympics. Most everyone in Toronto will remember that Mats Sundin, the Captain of the Maple Leafs, led Sweden to the Gold medal, but there was also 3 other Leaf players who played in Turin and came home with hardware. Back-up goalie Mikael Telqvist also won Gold, while Aki Berg picked up the Silver for Finland, and Tomas Kaberle of the Czech Republic was awarded a Bronze.

Did you know? - Also in 2006, Chad Kilger earned a place in the history books by scoring on a penalty shot against Penguins' goalie Marc-Andre Fluery. It was the only goal of the game, giving the Leafs a 1-0 victory, and marked only the second time in NHL history where a succesful penalty-shot turned out to be the only goal of the game. Ironically, the Leafs were also involved in the other occurence as well, way back in 1936, this time on the losing end of a 1-0 score against the Rangers, when Brent Connelly scored a penalty-shot goal on George Hainsworth.

So there you go. Now you know, and as always, knowing is half the battle.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Well, It's Not Gonna Be That Guy

Lately there's been some discussion about who the next Captain of the Maple Leafs will be if Mats Sundin decides not to return. So rather then think about the players most qualified to wear the "C" (Kaberle), instead I decided to work from the bottom and go through a process of elimination. However, listing reasons why they would be unsuitable is too easy, so instead I've tried to come up with the best arguments for the worst choices you could make. Not meant to be taken seriously. An exercise in anxiety release. It's pointless but it feels good.

Mark Bell should be Captain of the Maple Leafs.
He has had to battle through tough times and overcome adversity, and is (hopefully) now a model citizen. No stranger to accepting responsibility, Mark can be counted on to lead in a positive manner (from now on). The best reason, however, is that he smoked Daniel Alfredsson. Making Bell the Captain would be the sweetest icing on the cake/kick in the crotch, and might drive Sens' fans over the edge.

Jeff Finger should be the Captain of the Maple Leafs. He has a powerful and impressive sounding last name and has already earned a legendary "mystique" in hockey-mad Toronto. Also, his huge contract justifies the added pressure and expectations he'll receive from the fans and media, so it'll be a comfortable fit. Despite not having played a single game as a Maple Leaf, Finger is already one of the most talked about players on the team, yet he's maintained a cool, even elusive presence. This is the only photo of him in existence.

Carlo Colaiacovo should be named Captain of the Maple Leafs. This is basically the rotating Captain idea, except officially, only Carlo is named. Everyone will get a chance to pass it around all year long though as Carlo watches from the surgery ward's recovery room. His blood and guts effort, along with his inevitable sacrifice will inspire the team to raise the level of their game, again and again.

Jason Blake should be named Captain of the Maple Leafs. Blake is a former 40-goal scorer, a Masterton trophy winner, and a veteran leader who knows how to lead on a losing team. Blake has played 8 full seasons in the NHL and has appeared in 590 career games in which he's fired an incredible 1,809 shots on goal. Blake has also seen action in 24 playoff games in his career and has scored a total of 3 career playoff goals. Wait, that can't be right... No, it is. 3 playoff goals. Jason Blake commands respect.

Jiri Tlusty should be named Captain of the Maple Leafs. Tlusty is a young star who is popular with the media and isn't shy in front of the camera. No stranger to the spotlight, Tlusty has created excitement and widened fan interest with his colourful personality, passion, and inhibition for attention.

Bryan McCabe should be named Captain of the Maple a mock ceremony with hidden camera's and paid actors pretending to be fans and media, then everyone yells "Surprise! You play for the Florida Panthers now!" Just to see the stupid look on his stupid face.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Blood Of My Chief, Vol. III

Welcome back, Leaf fans and fanatics, and here we go with another edition of The Blood Of My Chief, a "chronological tale of magnificence and misery" starring our own Leaf Captains. First we'd like to apologize for the delay, and for any apperant sloppiness in the work. The project was nearly cancelled after multiple long-distance phone calls and an unsuccessful attempt to have David Attenborough reading the post. Unfortunately, as we were live across the Atlantic, there was a time-delay between Attenborough's voice and the words as they appeared on the screen. So we abandoned the idea, but then the bastard still wanted to get paid. So we told him we were shuttin' it down. Hopefully he's forgotten about us by now.
Vol. I and Vol. II are both available separately online. No other formats are currently under production. Once again most of the information was gathered from these three sites. You could just read those sites, but then you'd miss the cool stuff I wrote about Rick Vaive. If you're in a hurry, maybe just read that. And now, let's begin Volume Three, The Blood Of My Chief.

Darryl Sittler, Captain from 1975-81

Sittler is the first Leaf Captain that I can remember. I remember him being traded to Philadelphia and feeling confused and devastated, kinda like when John Lennon was shot. I'd already had to deal with the loss of "Tiger" Williams, so I knew it was possible that any player could be traded at any time, but a 7-year old child is poorly equipped to deal with such a dramatic loss.

In Sittler's first year as Captain, he distinguished himself by being the first Leaf to score 100 points in a season. He accomplished the feat a second time (1977-78), scoring 117. Some might argue that Sittler was the greatest Leaf to ever wear the uniform, and until Gilmour (points in a season) and Sundin (career points) came along, statistically that was true. Sittler was also a remarkably charismatic Captain who seemed to be a true gentleman and a kind, soft-spoken, yet, inspirational leader.

Despite not winning a Cup, Sittler did accomplish something for which he will never be forgotten. On February 7th, 1976 against Don Cherry's Boston Bruins, Sittler recorded 10 points in a single game. It was a truly magical performance, and 32 years later it's hard to imagine this record ever being equalled or broken. In 1989, Sittler was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. He wore number #27.

Rick Vaive, Captain from 1981-85

I got over the fact that Sittler was no longer a Leaf pretty quickly when I found out that the guy who lived across the street from me, y'know - Rick Vaive, was named the 12th Captain in Leaf history. I used to see him mowing his lawn in his underwear in the middle of the afternoon, or playing basketball in the driveway with his beautiful blonde phys-ed instructor wife. After school I'd deliver the newspaper to his house. He had a huge German Sheppard who, confusingly, was named "Santa". That dog scared the crap out of me. Neighboorhood legend had it that Santa once ate a burglar.

Vaive was the first Leaf in history to score 50 goals in a season, and he did it 3 seasons in a row ('82, '83, '84), a feat which has still not been duplicated. His 54 goals in his first season as Leaf Captain is still the most that any Leaf has ever scored in one campaign. His signature move was to accept the puck at the opposition blue-line, take three long strides into the zone, and hammer a slapshot past the frozen goalie into the back of the net. Perhaps because of my close association with this Chief, I've always felt Vaive was an outstanding Captain, and a legend who represented the Blue and White with honour. He was a terrific offensive force on the right-wing who had the misfortune of playing for a horrible owner during a horrible period in Leafs' history. I will always associate the number #22 with Rick Vaive.

When Vaive was finally traded I wondered who the next legend to move in across the street was going to be. Sadly, the house stayed empty for quite a while, and so did my heart. I gave up the paper route, someone who didn't play hockey for a living moved in to that house, and Ballard's horror show continued, with neither Captain, nor glory anywhere to be found.

Rob Ramage, Captain from 1989-91
For a while after Vaive, there was no Captain. With our tribe lost in the wilderness without a Chief for 4 years, I gradually lost interest and discovered other obsessions like Top 40 music, Atari, and kissing girls. A non-Leaf, Jari Kurri, was my favorite player. Adolescence, my friends, can be confusing and awkward.

With the acquisition of Rob Ramage, who was immediatly named Leafs Captain, the franchise only took a half-a-step in the right direction. The team needed a veteran leader with poise and skill, which Ramage certainly was, but his talent was limited and his time with the Leafs, ultimately short-lived. Most damaging to Ramage's legacy, is a post-career accident for which he was found at fault. On December 15, 2003, Ramage's passenger and former Black Hawk, Kieth Magnuson, was killed, while another driver was injured when Ramage's vehicle swerved into an on-coming lane. On October 10th, 2007, Ramage was found guilty of impaired driving causing death, and dangerous driving causing death, as well as guilty on 3 other charges. On January 17, 2008, Ramage was sentenced to 4 years in prison.

It's disturbing and ironic that the Leafs currently have a player on the roster experiencing a similar situation to Rob Ramage. Like Mark Bell, a tragic mistake has been made, and though a second chance can be earned, until the debt is repaid and the time served, it is difficult to say or write anything positive about the Leafs' unfortunate 13th Captain.

Wendel Clark, Captain from 1991-1994
Wendel Clark became the 14th Captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1991. Perhaps it should have gone to him as early as his second year (1986), after he finished 3rd in voting for the Calder, as it was clear at that point that Clark was the leader the team was following. Wendel could do it all, and often did it alone. He could hit, he could fight, and he could score.

In 1992-93, with Pat Burns behind the bench for Clark's second season as Captain, the Leafs would reclaim a part of their former glory. Gilmour and Andreychuk would star offensively, while Felix the Cat emerged as a star goalie, yet it was Clark whose leadership was most responsible for returning pride and honour to the Leafs' uniform. His sacrifice, his omnipotent will, and at times, his utter domination, led many Leaf fans to diefy our 14th Chief, and simply refer to him as God. It is likely that the number #17 will never be worn by another Leaf player ever again, nor should it be, for mere mortals will never compare to Wendel Clark.

In the summer of '94, after leading the Leafs to back-to-back appearances in the Final Four, Clark was traded by Cliff Fletcher at the NHL Entry Draft, a blockbuster announced by Gary Bettman to the stunned Hartford audience, that brought future-Captain Mats Sundin into our tribe.

Doug Gilmour, Captain from 1994-97

Affectionately known as "Dougie" by almost every Leaf fan, Doug Gilmour is perhaps the most popular Leaf player of all time. He was one of the most exciting players to watch and his playoff performances were the greatest seen by a generation of fans. Gilmour electrified audiences at Maple Leaf Gardens every time he carried the puck through the nuetral zone, and had an instinct for the net that resembled his other nickname, - "Killer".

In 1992-93, Gilmour broke Sittler's record for most points in a season (127) and had an amazing 95 assists, also a team record. He was the runner-up for the Hart trophy and was awarded the Selke as the league's top defensive forward. That season's playoffs featured a long list of memorable goals and assists by Gilmour, the most legendary being his double-overtime, behind-the-net-backwards-spin-O-rama, in Game One, Round Two, against Cujo and the Blues.

Gilmour was never able to equal his statistics from that year, nor lead the team beyond a second appearence in the Conference Final, and while he was Captain, the team had mixed success. But the excitement was always there, and the fans continued to believe in Gilmour, and even expected the same success and more. His popularity never declined, even after he was traded, and eventually, Dougie would make his way back to the tribe for one last game. Today, Gilmour is still with us, shaping our future and guiding our young, the way we'd always dreamed. On August 7th of this year, the Toronto Maple Leafs announced that Doug Gilmour would join the Toronto Marlies as an assistant coach.

To Be Continued? Only one Chief remains... or perhaps, there is another...!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Poll Update: Stunning Development

50 Votes!!!

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, something very sudden and spectacular has happened here in the General Area. Yet another milestone has been reached, another mountain has been climbed, another obscure and minor achievement for this humble, new-born blog. In honour of this tremendous occasion, we would like to celebrate by dedicating this post exclusively to you. Yes, you. Your voice in your head. You. Thank you being here and for participating in the poll. Your vote really counts and helped to make all this happen.

We're not sure anymore, but we think the poll to determine who is the Least Memorable Leaf Player To Score An Overtime Goal In The Playoffs has been with us since June the 2nd. The subject was touched on briefly in the very first post (see Game Six, 1999, 1995) on this blog, which indeed, was the inspiration for the poll that is still with us today. Like a baby learning to take its first few steps, many of our early posts were followed by a "ThumP!" sound and then some crying. However, on June 24th, our first glorious milestone was reached, as the poll eclipsed double-digits! Ten votes seemed like a break-through at the time, and I remarked in the comment section that we would celebrate again when we reached 50. I never thought we would hit that target so soon, or at all, actually. It was just a joke.

At this time I'd like to give credit where credit is most certainly due. First of all to Greener, from He Score, He Shoot! whose urging and advice no doubt led to our exponential growth in the ballot casting results. Secondly, we'd like to once again acknowledge PensionPlanPuppets for hosting the awesome site that Greener was guest-posting on that day, a site that, like you, I visit fanatically, and is probably responsible for 99% of any traffic the General Area gets. So, cheers to PPP and Greener and You!

Finally, an announcement: The poll remains open until December 31st, however I am declaring it now a two-man race between Cory Cross and Randy Wood. The answer is obviously not going to be Gary Valk, even though that is who I voted for. So I'd like to disqualify Valk or eliminate him or something, and I would if I could, but I can't alter or edit the poll, so this is what I suggest: Since you are able to change your vote at any time, anyone who has voted for Gary Valk, please transfer your vote over to Cory Cross, and let's try to make this interesting! Congratulations, I guess, goes to Gary Valk and his family for not being selected the Least Memorable Leaf Player To Score An Overtime Goal In The Playoffs.

Spoiler Alert! In case there is anybody out there who's still a little hazy about Valk's goal, it occurred in the second round of the playoffs, in 1999, against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The goal clinched the series for the Leafs on the road in 6 games, returning them to the Final Four for the first time since 1994. In net for the Penguins was Tom Barrasso, who couldn't control the rebound, allowing Valk to lunge headfirst and spear the puck into the back of the net. Basically, it looked like the picture below. Now you'll never forget.

So, it's Cory Cross vs. Randy Wood. Who is the Least Memorable Leaf Player To Score An Overtime Goal In The Playoffs? Please vote in the Poll, or change your mind and vote again. Make your voice heard. After all, this post was dedicated to you!

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Blood Of My Chief, Vol. II

Hi everybody, and welcome to the second installment in our series about Leaf Captains, The Blood Of My Chief. If you missed it, or if you just want to read it again, Volume I is here. Most of the info was gathered from these three sites. Today's guest reader is one of my favorite actors, Mr. Christopher Walken. Thank you for being here, Chris. I hope you enjoy reading to us as much as we enjoyed your performance in Pulp Fiction.

Ted "Teeder" Kennedy, Captain from 1948-55, also 1956-7

As you can see from the photo above, the man they called "Teeder" was a charismatic and handsome Captain. In the same post-war years that saw Hollywood's golden-era of film-making, Kennedy was a real-life Maple Leafs' dreamboat with a Gene Kelly-esque charm to go along with his smooth puckhandling and playmaking. He played 13 seasons in the NHL, all with the Leafs, and won 5 Stanley Cups. In 1948, his 3rd championship, "Teeder" was a playoff sniper, scoring 8 goals in only 9 games, while adding 6 assists.The Legend of Ted would even become so great that Princess Elizabeth herself made the pilgrimage to Maple Leaf Gardens and was given a "lucky handshake" by her hero, the Toronto Maple Leafs Captain, in the hopes that it would help her secure her ascension to the throne. Over 60 years later, Elizabeth is still Queen of the British Empire. Wow.

Sid Smith, Captain 1955-56 While "Teeder" enjoyed success right away with the big club, Smith's career was a little slower to develop. Already 21 as a rookie, Sid split his playing time between the NHL and the AHL for his first two professional seasons. His 3rd year as a Leaf, 1948-49 is very interesting. He played only one game with the big club, and 68 with the Pittsburgh Hornets. However, in those 68 games, he was a scoring phenom, with 55 goals and 57 assists for 112 points! Smith rejoined the Leafs for the playoffs that year and was their secret weapon, scoring 5 goals in 6 games, and adding 2 assists, as the Leafs won their 4th Cup in a row. From then on, he was a regular in the Leafs line-up, and seven years later was named as the 7th Leaf Captain for the 1955-56 season.

Jimmy Thomson, Captain 1956-57

Unfortunately, this is the best photo I could find of Jimmy Thomson. It's not flattering, but it is amusing. He kinda looks like Bryan McCabe here, but I think he probably played more like Tomas Kaberle. A quiet, perhaps unspectacular, puck-moving defenceman, Johnson led the team in assists in 1947-48 and won 4 Stanley Cups between 1947 and 1951. He was also an honourable team player as well. After Sid Smith relinquished the "C", Thomson wore it briefly but then gave it back to Kennedy that same season, as "Teeder" rejoined the team after an early retirement. Thomson was traded to Chicago for the following season, and then retired. In a Top 100 All-Time Leafs list printed in the Windsor Star a year ago, Thomson was ranked 57th. Meanwhile, a similar list on HFBoards had him at #39.

George "the Chief" Armstrong, Captain from 1957-69

George Armstrong was a Maple Leaf for over 20 years and the Captain for more then a decade. He was the face of the Leafs in the 1960's whose presence and leadership overshadowed all others before him, and that, besides his Native heritage, is why he became known as "The Chief". After nearly a decade long drought between championships (1952-61), Armstrong brought the Cup home 3 years in a row (1962, 63, 64), and then again, one last time, in '67.

Armstrong wore number #10, was the 9th Leaf Captain, and the last to hoist Lord Stanley's mug. In the photo below we see him with number #9, Andy Bathgate after defeating Detroit in Game 7 of the Finals in 1964. In 1967, Armstrong's Cup-clinching empty net goal in Game 6 against Montreal would become the last goal a Maple Leaf would score in the Finals for 41 years and counting. Heaven only knows when the next Leaf Captain might lift the Cup, or when Toronto will again experience the Spirit of '67, or know the glory of being led by one whose name is not spoken, only admired. He is, and always will be, "The Chief".
Dave Keon, Captain from 1969-75
A huge part of the Leafs resurgence in the Sixties was the emergence of Dave Keon. The Calder Trophy in 1961 was just the beginning of his many accomplishments, which included 4 Stanley Cups. He was awarded the Lady Byng the next two consecutive years (1961-2, 1962-3), taking only a single minor penalty each season. He led the Leafs in points 3 times ('64,'67,'70), and in goals scored twice ('71, '73). In 1971, he set an NHL single-season record by scoring 8 short-handed goals.

Yet his greatest accomplishment was in 1967, when he became the first and only Leaf to date, to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player in the playoffs. It is the trophy named after The Builder, who renamed the team, and then named Hap Day as the first Chief of the Toronto Maple Leafs. The trophy features a spectacular replica of Maple Leaf Gardens with our emblem behind it, and is possibly the most beautiful trophy after the Cup itself. It is a tragedy of our times that another Leaf player has not claimed the trophy again since. Keon was named Captain in 1969, at the dawn of the modern era of NHL expansion, as the 10th Chief of this magnificent tribe.

Thanks again to Christopher Walken for his help in bringing history alive. Thanks as well to all our readers, especially Jacky, whoever she is. Look for Vol. III, The Blood Of My Chief to be posted soon at a blog near you, probably this one.

Friday, August 8, 2008


They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but what about fourteen pictures to go along with song lyrics that everybody recognizes! What's that worth? At least 14,056 words, - probably way more. I did this once before, but I think more people will recognize The Beatles then The Littlest Hobo. There's nothing really insightful here, just some colours and a familiar melody. It won't make you laugh out loud or want to tell your friends, but it might pass the boredom for about 20 seconds if you need a short break from reality. In any case, it doesn't take long. Unfortunately we couldn't get Sir Paul McCartney to join us and lend his voice to our blog (due to my close relationship with Heather Mills, and his spiteful nature), however, if you listen very carefully, that really is Ringo Starr playing the drums. He's great.

He's a real Nowhere-Mats,

Living in his Sundin-land,
Making all his Nowhere-plans,
For nobody

Doesn't have a point of view,
Knows not where he's giong to,
Isn't he a bit like you,
And me

Nowhere-Mats, please listen,

You don't know what you're missin',

Sundin, man, The world is at your command

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Blood Of My Chief

Welcome friends. Today we begin a series of posts covering the Maple Leafs' Captains. In this edition, we proudly present, the one and only, James Earl Jones, who will read the post to you out loud. Unfortunately, we don't have an audio-file, or even a microphone, so you're just going to have to imagine it. Most of the info for this post was taken from these five sites. The rest I made up. And now, please welcome, Mr. James Earl Jones, reading, The Blood Of My Chief.

In the earliest days of pre-history, from a time when overtime was a true test of survival and always ended in certain and sudden death, there emerged a leader among leaders, a champion in our quest for the Cup, that did rise to become the very first chief in our glorious tribe.

Before legends were born, men skated with demons as equals on the ice, and the Toronto Saint Pat's were the first to valiantly spill their blood in defence of an emblem that would become our identity.

The honour was bestowed upon him, the "C" on his sweater, by The Builder, as the emblem became this tribe's banner: The Toronto Maple Leafs. He is the first legend of legends, with his name on the Cup 7 times*, a name that is hockey, that means Maple Leafs, a name you'll never forget. He wore number #3. His name is Hap Day.

In 1932 our chief shared with a tribesman a joyous and bloody handshake at the end of their greatest victory. Before anyone had ever heard the expression "power forward", they called him the "Big Bomber", Charlie Conacher carried the blood of my chief, as the second Captain, from 1937 to 1938.

Among the legendary warriors whose names were engraved after the battle of '32, was a fierce and noble barbarian named Red. George Reginald Horner was a brute and a penalty minutes leader for eight straight seasons. In 490 regular season contests, Red Horner struck for 42 crushing goals from the blue-line, while delivering 1,264 penalty minutes worth of damage to his terror-stricken opponents. The blood Hap Day shared with Big Bomber was also shared with Horner, and then spread around the league until they called the man "Red". He was our third chief. He wore number #2.

Nearly a decade passed for our tribe in the wilderness without reclaiming the Holy Cup. A new legend was needed, and indeed, did emerge, the first ever winner of the Calder in 1937. Syl Apps was an outstanding soul, winning the Lady Byng in '42 by not taking a single penalty the entire season. That abundance of goodwill no doubt helped the Leafs secure the championship, though Syl Apps never contributed to blood-letting, he surely enjoyed the sweet taste of triumph.

The heroics of Syl Apps did not end there, for he was also a war hero, and in his courageous absence "Rugged Robert" Bob Davidson valiantly carried the torch and wore the "C", leading the team to another championship in 1945. When his days as a warrior were over, Davidson remained with the tribe, and was eventually crowned the Chief Scout.

Syl Apps heroically returned from his duties with the Canadian Army to lead our tribe to 2 more Cup glorys (1947, 1948). In every way, Apps was larger then life. He was captain of the football team at McMaster University in 1936, and the British Empire pole-vault champion in 1934, competing at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. In 1940 he ran for Parliament, but on election night Apps was on the ice at Maple Leaf Gardens, scoring a goal in a playoff game against the Detroit Red wings. Apps lost the election by 5 votes, but the Leafs won the game, 2-1. Those who wore the emblem of the Maple Leafs never wore it prouder then on that night, nor was there ever a more distinguished Chief.

(To be continued...)

Special thanks to James Earl Jones for coming in on such short notice and lending his stunning voice to our blog. The series will continue, maybe as early as the next post, and by then we hope to have another guest reader scheduled to come in. Possibly Leonard Nimoy or William Shatner.

*Hap Day won one Stanley Cup as a player (1932), won 5 as a coach from 1940-50, and had his name engraved on the Cup for the 7th time in 1951, as the assistant general manager.
The photos are, in order top to bottom: Hap Day, Charlie Conacher, Red Horner, and Syl Apps. I couldn't find a picture of Bob Davidson.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Born Soft Blue And White

From the Files Of: How Is This Even Possible?
Separated at birth? They say everyone has a "cosmic-twin" wandering around the earth somewhere, but running into them is so socially awkward that we rarely acknowledge it when it happens. Well, at the risk of being socially awkward (too late, wierdo!), I present, on the left, with the blue jersey: The General's Daughter. On the right, with the white jersey: a "Leaf Fan" from DownGoesBrown's facebook page.

Did somebody say, "disappointed face?" Wait 'til the season starts, kids.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Hockey Or Death!

"My dream and the best scenario would be if I ended my career as a Toronto Maple Leaf. That hasn't changed. But I'm not going to say that I'm not going to play anywhere else either, because I'm not really in control of that".

I've never seen anyone in such complete control of their destiny as Mats Sundin is now. Yet the battle rages on. If only this juggernaut of indecision could be defeated, if only the Dragon of Doubt in his mind could be struck down with a mighty cry, "Hockey Or Death!" Reminds me of Shakespeare's Hamlet. Rather, Mats Sundin reminds me of a Hamlet who's dropped out of high school, smokes too much weed, and won't stop watching the Discovery channel in the basement.
"To be, or not to be... that is the fucked up shit..."

"Would you please get a job!!"

"Mom, I told you a hundred times, I don't know what I wanna do!"

A long time ago I sarcastically suggested that Cliff simply give Sundin the control to make his own decision about returning and what kind of environment he'd like to be in. Then, upon the hiring of Ron Wilson, I took that as an indication that Cliff was here to stay, and that Mats Sundin still had the door held open for him, so long as his heart wasn't set on a Stanley Cup ('cause we know he's not about the money; Guy Carbonneau said so).

And so we waited. It rained a lot this summer. More then usual.

The negotiating rights to Sundin were traded away to bitter rivals, Montreal, but I concluded that it was insignificant, that Sundin had no interest in signing anything before July 1st. At that point, he had only two things on his mind: arctic fishing, and vowing never to go to Mark Messier's New York hair salon ever again. It's a scam. All they do is shave your head and charge you $70! Sure your head smells like flowers for a week, but it's also so slippery you can't wear a comfortable hat on a windy day. Time passed. Arctic fishing was a huge success. You should have seen him at it, he was unbelievable! If only this sport had the same kind of following as the NHL, Sundin's brilliance would be twice as legendary. So many fish overcome by raw talent. They never had a chance.

Meanwhile, I interrupted a post to announce the breaking news that Cliff Fletcher was doing everything he could to make the Captain comfortable for the upcoming season in Toronto. The funny part though, was that's exactly what Cliff said he was going to do, back on May the 28th.

"After I sit down and tell him what we have in mind- (which wasn't for public consumption then) -I think a clear picture will emerge for him", Fletcher said. "I think he'll be more comfortable."

Well, the Silver Fox made his moves, acquiring Grabovski, Hagman, Hollweg, Mayers, Finger, and Frogren. The public has consumed this information and developed opinion. A clear picture has emerged!
Montreal: You suck.

Vancouver: You suck worse.

Sweden's boring. Even in the summertime.

Of course Mats Sundin is a little sad about last season, but a broken heart can love again. Like all romantic losers, Robert Smith of The Cure loves the Leafs, and that guy's sad about everything.Robert Smith broke his heart in 1979 and made a career out of it. C'mon Mats. You can do it, too. We'll be here. Waiting in the rain. Wanting to die, or just to be given a little attention. Just like a Cure song. We're not sad anymore, Mats. Black is the colour of our love.