Saturday, May 25, 2013

NHL DRAFT 2013: DOMI 2.0

Over the last few years the Toronto Maple leafs have had a plethora of young talent originate from the Ontario Hockey League, specifically the London Knights. Dating back to 2009 the Leafs have seen some great talent coming out of playing in the London organization. From Nazem Kadri, Ryan Rupert, and recently Greg Mckegg, most of these young men have had success with the Knights as they have been perennial Memorial Cup contenders for a few years running now. With the Knights semi-final elimination yesterday night, the Leafs may look to continue that trend going forward.

Max Domi had an excellent season with the Knights, leading the team in scoring and leading them to the Memorial Cup tournament. Ranked at 25th overall in this years NHL Entry Draft, the Leafs could be getting another Knight. This one a little more special than the previous three as he is the son of former Leafs tough guy Tie Domi. Domi is one of the most beloved Leafs to ever play the game because of his fiesty attitude and ability to agitate the opposition. I can even remember him scoring a few goals during his time with the Leafs, which were always celebrated brazingly because of their relative rarity. 

Max sees the game in a different way than is father ever could hope to, scoring 39 goals and 48 assists for 87 points in just 64 games this season. At 5'10 and 195 pounds, he is a spitting image of his father but boasts a more robust offensive game. As one of the best skaters in this years draft class, his breakout speed is unmatched by most and can go into those dirty areas if he needs to. He is projected to possibly become a potential first line centre by most scouts assuming he can refine his defensive game. Of his defensive flaws, he can be caught up ice cheating which may create chances for the opposition during play. As a potential #1 he would have to weed that habit out of his game to become successful. Actually it sort of reminds me of another former Knight on the Leafs today in Nazem Kadri. The similarities are there but they are different types of players still. Domi with his stalky frame will alomost certainly be more tough to push off the puck than the aforementioned Kadri.

We will see who the Leafs select in this year's draft, more over, will Domi even be available at 25? My money is on him being gone before the 21st pick, but that will remain to be seen. If I were the Leafs, focus on depth at centre. Something they have lacked for over 15 years, even longer. With the likes of Kadri and Colborne, the additions of McKegg, and a Domi would be invaluable for the future of this franchise.

Sunday, May 19, 2013


I think I hate the Boston Bruins! I can't believe it took me almost 2 weeks to realize this. I guess I was in a state of shock since. 

There is one thing that will never die on the internet and around the work: Trolls that will make fun of the youngest team in the NHL for blowing a 3 goal lead against the 2-year removed Stanley Cup Champions. These trolls clearly did not watch a single game that the blue and white played this season and I'd hazard a guess they haven't watched ANY NHL games this season.

Here are the facts:

1. The youngest team in the league(Leafs) were slotted by many of North America's top hockey analysts as be in 13th-15th in the Eastern Conference for this season. For those of you at home paying attention, that means the Leafs probably would have ended up second to dead last in the entire league.

Fast forward about 3-4 months and I guess you can say they proved that prediction to be wrong as they ended up 5th in the East and 9th overall.

2. The Leafs went on a long 6-week stretch of never losing more than two games in a row. Again...for those of you following along at home, that means they did what few of the TOP teams in the league could do this year.

3. The youngest team in the NHL did what no previous Leafs team could do in the past nine years and over the last 10 years: That was a) making the playoffs and b) simply clinching them days before the season ended. I mean if the Boston Bruins or Pittsburgh Penguins had done the same thing no one would blink. The fact of the matter is that both of those teams have had prolonged success due to having the right combination of players and having talent. The Leafs quite frankly have not had the personnel and were widely criticized for not drafting well enough.

4. Which leads me to the drafting topic. Once the Leafs made the playoffs, a few home grown guys provided heroics in the playoffs against what some called a more gifted team. Nazem Kadri, Nikolai Kulemin, James Reimer, Carl Gunnarsson, just to name a couple.

5. Then there is the actual series against the Bruins. Again, many hockey analysts chose a Bruins victory prediction. Most predictions ranged from a sweep, other more generous estimates had them losing in 5 or 6. It didn't look good for the Leafs after the 4th game. Down 3-1 in the series, most people following the series were already moving on to other match-ups as the feeling was that the Leafs were done. Queue James Reimer. With their backs against the wall, this young team took the Bruins, a team that had completely crushed the Leafs for almost two years straight, past game five. Then after a trip back to Toronto they won again! I mean at this point you are astonished they forced a game 7. Then they were basically in the second round up until the last 5 minutes of the game. Nevermind losing in overtime in game 7, the simple fact the Leafs even had a sniff of the playoffs was a huge accomplishment. But no...they wanted more and they took the big bad Bruins to 7 games. The funny thing about all this depression about the Leafs losing is that they did it with the youngest roster in the NHL. 

I watched the game. Somebody asked after it finished if I was upset? I said no.
This person was so confused because they watched the game as well and thought I would have been a wreck. I told them that this team beat the odds ALL season. Nobody wanted them in the company of the best in the league. They weren't the sexy pick, nobody counts the Leafs in...not for the last decade at least. With all that crap they proved the doubters and the haters wrong. They have nothing to be ashamed about because they defied the odds when they were stacked against them. 

Then as they shook their head and responded with a confused 'OK', I said...

They made me proud this year.

I am finally proud to be fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs.