Canadian Corner – December 20, 2011.

Leafs forward Colby Armstrong out with concussion…Kyle Turris excited to join the Senators…Canadiens could find slim pickings for bilingual coaches…Oilers learns tips from Red Wings…Canucks and Wild reignite rivalry…Jets scratching the surface of their potential…Five burning questions for the Flames.


Armstrong out again.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs forward Colby Armstrong is out indefinitely with a concussion, suffered during Saturday’s game against Vancouver. It was revealed Armstrong was reluctant to inform the Leafs of his injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is part of the problem the NHL is encountering with players suffering concussions, as some are slow to reveal they’re suffering concussion symptoms, either because they don’t want to come out of the lineup, or don’t understand the symptoms.

OTTAWA SUN: Kyle Turris is excited about joining the Ottawa Senators and getting a fresh start to his NHL career.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Senators fans shouldn’t get their hopes up too much for Turris in the early going, as he’s still adjusting from missing training camp plus the opening weeks of the season, and now has to get used to a new team. It could take next season to fully determine Turris’ value for the Senators.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens could find the pool of available quality bilingual coaches to be a shallow one.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: While the jury is out on Randy Cunneyworth’s coaching ability, it appears the Canadiens front office has handled this situation poorly. Recent comments by team owner Geoff Molson suggest Cunneyworth may only be on the job until season’s end, essentially making him a “lame duck” coach. How is Cunneyworth to get the players to buy into his systems if they believe he won’t return next season?

As for the search for a bilingual coach, if Cunneyworth actually turns the Habs around, the calls for such a coach will dissipate, and if he does the miraculous and leads the Habs to a Stanley Cup this spring, those who are bitching about his lack of bilingualism will be conspicuous by their silence. Of course, if none of that happens, and if the Habs fail to improve, the complaints will continue, becoming an unnecessary distraction for the team over the rest of the season, stoking opinion there needs to be a major change in the front office.

EDMONTON SUN: The Detroit Red Wings scored three goals on tip-ins to down the Oilers 3-2.

VANCOUVER PROVINCE: The Canucks and Minnesota Wild have reignited a rivalry which dates back to the 2003 playoffs.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets are finding themselves as a team, and hope to avoid a letdown.

CALGARY SUN: Five burning questions for the Flames this week.


  1. I wonder if Armstrong has had concussion symptons in the past? Almost sounds like a Crosby senerio, out for so long them come back for a few games and out again after a light hit this time with concussion symptoms? I wouldn’t put it past Armstrong to have kept past concussions a secret.

    @Tux How do you like my posting name “FireWilson” now? As the Leafs get outplayed once again and give up another pp goal Wilson’s defence last system is drawing a ton of criticism. He is switching lines all over the place then expects them to gel after only two periods and when it doesn’t happen switches them back creating the losing line up we have watched for the past 15 games. Even the hard core Wilson supporters have lost confidence in his coaching abilities. As we approach a third year of being outside the playoffs looking in with Wilson at the helm, Still think I should cut him some slack?

  2. Maybe the Habs should hire Marcel Marceau??? LOL

    What a crock of sh*t coming out of Montreal and Que. It’s too bad in the future, every non french speaking player would refuse to ever play there. They could then continue their Us vs The World fantasy, unabated.
    I also think they should be forced to change their name.

  3. After living in Montreal I can certainly understand the need and desire for a billingual coach. It is just the DNA of the organization… it’s as simple as that.
    However, they did win a Cup with a coach that couldn’t read or write either language….

  4. As an anglo Montrealer and Habs fan, I couldn’t care less if the Habs coach is unilingual, bilingual or non-lingual. What I would like is a coach who can get a team to play exciting and WINNING hockey.

    And all those morons — read French media pundits — who are screaming over the Cunneyworth “hiring” (and note that its an internal promotion because Molson likely refused to allow Gauthier to hire someone…) need to realize a soundbite from the coach is not the end-all be-all for fans to get their information.

    Anyone who watched Jacques Martin inform people about the team (“I don’t know where Markov is”; “we lost because of mistakes by the youngsters…”) would know that!

  5. Between Armstrong and Connolly, it’s going to be one interesting race to see who spends more time on the injured list.

    The Leafs look dysfunctional. IF you cycle on their defence, they all run around trying to do everybody else’s job but their own and that leads to penalties and the Leafs can’t kill penalties. Collectively, nobody seems to know what to do or when to do it. Moving players around on different lines constantly won’t compensate for a lack of system that only Wilson seems to believe in. The assistant coaches have all been changed, the players have all been changed and they still suck. So Mr Burke..the players may be on a no trade freeze but is the coach’s job frozen too? OPEN YOUR EYES. Mr Burke…its time to admit it..Wilson has to go !

  6. The roller-coaster continues in Toronto when it comes to Wilson. A short couple of weeks ago they were ready to not only grant him an extension, but anoint him as the next best thing since Scotty Bowman. Now they’re breaking legs jumping off the band-wagon again and calling for his scalp. All the while letting wishful-thinking (who can blame them, I guess, after 45 years of frustration) get in the way of honest pragmatism. The bald truth is, aside from about 4 – maybe 5 – players, this is not a very overly-talented bunch. Yes they are young for the most part and yes they work hard every game (something I attribute to Wilson’s no-nonsense approach), but youth and hard work alone can’t make up for a lack of natural skills over an 82-game schedule. You hear the same things after every loss “we’ve got to work harder in our own end and clear the puck without turnovers” and “we need to bury our chances.” All true, but then decision-making in your own end comes from hockey instincts and that’s lacking in the majority of their D, and as for burying their chances, a wise Hall-of-Fame coach once observed that “scoring is the one thing you can’t teach – they either have it or they don’t.” Kessel has it, and to a degree so does Lupul. And Connolly when he’s healthy – which is sporadic. After that you have to rely on pluggers banging in the odd puck. That’s not Wilson’s fault. That’s the fault of the man who did the signings and trades.

  7. Pierre Gauthier create this unnecessary distraction for the team who will hang over his head the rest of the season… The club isn`t winning and it was entirely Gauthier’s fault not Martin. This move will cost Gauthier’s job and millions of dollars of lost for the Canadiens and Molson Family. FTQ, a stakeholder of the MTL Canadiens are kicking the tires to urge Molson to react promptly. Very bad move for the GM… Montréal is the only french market of the NHL and they should know…

    Like Serge Savard have said, it’s the first unilingual coach since Dick Irvin…. who coached the rocket Richard. In the past, even Hector Toe Blake and Scotty Bowman spoke french. So it is possible to have a coach who speak both languages and the top of it’s profession because french it’s a criteria not an option. Best candidates for this job must speak french that’s it.

    They should have name Larry Carrière as interim head coach instead and let Cunneyworth act like he was the boss. The result on the ice would probably be the same. At least, the fans will have sympathy for the coach and the team. They have to win right now or some others will lose their jobs or be traded for a bag of puck and picks.

  8. @firewilson, I have to admit last year and the beginning of this years was in the middle as to Wilson staying or going as the team had the great end to last year and a pretty good start to this year. I didn’t much like the defensive play ie pk . Now with what is going on with the losing and just no real answer in their own end I just can’t give Wilson any more excuses. I think they got lucky at the start of the year with teams not being prepared for the leafs speed and now they have learned how to shut that down, which is mostly kessels line, the leafs don’t have much else. I am kind of rambling but in the last few weeks its just to frustrating to watch.

  9. i could not disagree more with Pragmatic.
    there is no way this is burkes fault.
    the leafs 2nd line scored a lot last year and it was talent and not a fluke.
    this year they look a little lost and confused,just like the defence,and the 3rd and 4th lines have no idea who they will play with and seem to have no clear cut agenda on what their jobs are.
    wilson is the problem plain and simple.
    no real system at all especially in the d zone.
    toss around the boards,thats it,and teams sit and wait to snare the pucks.
    lately top 4 dman and top 2 lines are being played into the ground,they are wearing out.
    way too early to give 4th line 4 minutes a game and 3rd less than 10,terriblr coaching there.
    all the things that were successful early he has abandoned and taken away the drive of the 3rd/4th lines and 5th/6th dmen.
    when teams do not improve and always make the same mistakes thats the coach,and i know since i coached and when that happens they have tuned you out.
    young teams must have a coach with a solid system and discipline,which wilson does not.
    i do not hate wilson,i just see a very wrong fit here,he is not a young team coach.
    there is plenty of talent here now but not the right coach to get it to the next level.

  10. Does the Montreal Canadiens franchise really care about what languages the coach speaks, or is this just the fanbase being difficult? Not that one’s better than the other, they’re both a little bit of ridiculous. Then again there are guys like Zdeno Chara who speaks four languages – English, German, Slovakian and French. Mayhaps the Canadiens should trade for Chara, buy him out and promote him to head coach. This insane rumor has been brought to you by me not having coffee today or enough sleep last night, and you’re all welcome.

  11. The “rivarly” between the Wild and Canucks was never gone. Insijs.

  12. Wilson stinks of desperation with his knee jerk moves back and forth.

  13. Montreal needs a French speaking coach because the majority of the market here is French. As one pundit here asked” How would Toronto or Detroit act if they hired a uni lingual French coach?” but the fact is if they win all will be forgiven.

    At the time of Cunnyworth’s hiring it was clear to me that he was only here for the season. He was not introduced as the new head coach period, but as the head coach for the rest of the yearseason.

    if you have not seen it, The Rocket is a great movie that shows what the Habs mean to francophone Quebec. Gives you a little look into why people care about the language of the coach and captain….because rignt now, The ‘C” and the “a” are all on unilingual anglos….

  14. Dallas Eakins coaching and Mike Ziggomanis brought up, Dupuis sent down and the Leafs start to look like a way better team! Having Bozak, Steckel, Ziggs to take draws is a huge deal and getting Ziggs killing penalties is what we need.

    Then we need a more well rounded coach and Eakins is a wonderful coach and I’d rather not lose him anytime in the near future to another organization! Dupuis is useless. Why guys like Colton Orr are benched on the 4th when they bring in gritt and energy, and early in the season Franson is constantly benched but a guy who has played 30 games got 0 points, plays on the worst PK in the league and is a minus player barely ever gets scratched is beyond me!

  15. For the Habs I wouldn’t mind the firing of Gauthier and hiring someone like Nonnis and then seeing Roy behind the bench.

  16. @FireWilson: Had it occured to you that the Leafs have a marginal roster and are in fact over-acheiving?
    Anyway, yes; now that they are no longer atop the Conference, surprising everybody, your handle does make a little more sense. I’m not really a big Wilson fan, or even a big Bozak fan (pretty nice goal against the Nucks though), but your comment a few weeks ago kind of sounded like, “Goddamit, if we could just fire Capuano and Rolston, we’d be IN there!”…….you see what I mean?
    Anyway, I’ll agree that a lot of the problems you have noted don’t seem like great decisions; like not playing Boyce and Zigomanis. As for the second line, I really would have been shocked if MacArthur had kept it going this year. They play fine in wide-open, no pressure situations like last year, but tightening it up from there is the real test of a good team….and they’re not one. I think the real problem, especially on the PK, is the goaltending. Again, not really a surprise. The surprise is that anyone continues to call Gustavsson the “Monster” (though he made some pretty nice saves against the Nucks). In short, whatever Wilson’s bad decisions are, keeping Connelly off the top line is not one of them. And how bout that Frattin? Now THERE is a beauty.

  17. Roy behind the bench in Montreal would be nothing more than the second-coming of Mario Tremblay – a bomb waiting to go off. That is not the way to go.

  18. Couldn’t agree more tuxedoTshirt. As I said earlier. after the top 4-5 players the talent level drops off pretty fast, and while they hustle and play 60 minutes it’s the decision-making on the ice that is costing them in key situations. If anyone thinks you can make a silk purse out of sow’s ear simply through coaching, then their knowledge of the game is superficial, with overtones of wishful-thinking. That 2nd line may have done some scoring last year, but as usual it came when the pressure was off. As presently constituted, this is NOT a playoff team.

  19. Tux/Prag,
    I would like to see why you guys think the teams they are fighting with are any better because they are not.
    outside of boston/philly/pitts/rangers the rest are all in the same boat and have no edge player wise with a mix of good and average players.
    you 2 are anti leaf with your sows ear stuff as much as some leaf fans think a little too high.
    except for boston no team i have seen has had an easy time with the leafs.
    they have beaten top teams and also lost to poor teams just like every team in the league.
    prag,i would say you are the one with superficial knowledge if you think there is little talent on the leafs.
    sounds like a bitter habs fan to me.
    tux we all know,he is a selective leaf basher but being a westerner would never have anything good to say about a toronto team.
    i watch a lot of hockey and after maybe 8 teams out of 30 the rest are not that far apart except for 2 or 3 of the bad bottom dwellers.
    wilson is very poorly prepared and makes no adjustments and has a lousy system and that is why the leafs are not as good as they should be.

  20. @pragamatic: Roy may no be the second coming of Scotty Bowman but NO WAY is he Mario Tremblay. That guy had NO COACING experience when hired. Roy coached a memorial cup team.

  21. Habsfan 1, when I compare Roy to Tremblay it’s purely in regard to their tendency to go ballistic at the drop of a hat. He’s given enough evidence of that in the Q, along with his looney-tune son.

  22. See? That’s what I mean. For some, being a Leafs fan means you CANNOT criticize them in any way shape or form. You MUST be supportive regardless of the results. You CANNOT try to dissect the team to see where the weaknesses may lie. If you do, you’re automatically “anti-Leaf” and must therefore be a Habs fan. Or a Sens fan. That’s what I meant when I spoke of wishful-thinking. Simmons dares to try and look at things objectively, and he’s a scum-bag. Anyone in here dares offer an opinion that calls into question the overall talent level of the team and to some they know nothing about the game. Sorry. but I am not now, never have been, and never will be a blind sycophant.

  23. Pragmatic, you make some good points although I’m hesitant to say that considering I’m not a Leaf’s fan and will likely get jumped on.
    My strong feeling is that Wilson will be let go in the New Year, if not sooner, unless there’s a big break out from this slump that the team’s currently in.
    Hab’s fan’s “It’s all part of the process”, I guess you won’t be sorry to hear that line again…
    Lyle, your observation on Turris is, in my deservedly humble opinion, is right on. Unfortunately there likely will be some Sen’s fan’s who will likely be expecting too much, too soon. For some reason it seems to really irritate certain fan’s when a player without a contract holds out…

  24. You are a Simmons fan and like his thoughts???????? okay,nuff said right there.
    go ahead and make it funnier and say you like cox 2nd best and garrioch 3rd best.
    better yet go sign up with eklund,he is more your speed.

  25. @TopRight I totally agree with you actually; after the top 4, the rest of the teams in the East are all in the same mix (told ya so to Durt about the Rangers). But I feel that Florida, Buffalo, Tampa and New Jersey should be included in the list of teams with a better roster than the Leafs (BUF and TBL are obviously tanking hard, but their rosters are pretty nice). I think the Leafs are over-achieving….but they are doing fine and beating good teams. As a fan I can see where you are disappointed with the coaching as they have lost some games that they definitely should have taken. As far as cheering a Toronto team, most people out here hate the Leafs enough to refuse to watch or talk about them, and by that standard, I’m actually a huge fan (and I cheer for the Blue Jays). I guess I think the talent level is lower than you do but I think that the potential on the Leafs is huge. Frattin, Kulemin, Colbourne, Franson, Gunnarson, Gardiner, Bozak, Aulie, and Steckel all have improved years ahead of them.

    Anyway, today I was answering FireWilson’s question; I am seriously not trying to troll you guys. We’re all hockey nuts right?

  26. Tux,
    i agree the talent is there like the players you listed but wilson is not improving them and they play like they are not sure what they are supposed to do.
    as for buff/tb/devils/fla i see nothing they have the leafs don’t and they mostly are one line as well.
    pk lost the games to buffalo and jersey but they were outplayed everywhere else.
    fla imo has less talent but play a very good system and buy into the coach.
    tb has little after the big 3,very iffy dmen and poor goaltending and the trap hurts them as much as helps.
    are the leafs a cup contender,no,but there is no excuse for them not to be 7th with a good coach.

  27. The Leafs have enough talent to make the playoffs this year and given a few years of playing some tough playoff rounds and a few more player changes (which I believe Burke knows he needs to make) they can be right up there with the big boys provided Burke continues on his torred pace of aquiring good young talent for next to nothing (Kessel trade is an exception since the jury is still out). The problem is Wilson plain and simple.
    Take something as simple as the penality kill as TopRight mentioned, the defence hammer it around the boards and the Leaf wingers provide no pressure on the opposing defence so they end up picking it off the boards and take shot after shot from the blue line un-disturbed. There are so many simple plays that aren’t being done that I think Wilson’s time has come as it did with Quinn. Maybe he can coach a team with more veteran presence but he’s only made it out of the second round of the playoffs once in 18 years so his coaching record is up for debate at another time. It’s time to cut the buddy, buddy cord Burke has with Wilson and move on to someone else that Burke will hand pick (not Fletcher). I don’t know if it’s Eakins or not but if they do take a shot on him I’d like to see Bob Bougner of the Spit’s take over the farm team under the promise of being a future consideration to the head coaching job of the Leafs if Eakins doesn’t perform.

  28. You make a strong case.

  29. Now that’s some comeback TopRightCorner. Must have taken a lot of deep thought. All it tells me is that you are one of those content to waft through life who only hear what they WANT to hear – never what they NEED to hear. Sad. Maybe you can arrange to have YOUR favourite writers dress up in Blue & White and wave pom-poms.

  30. Tux, your statement,”As far as cheering a Toronto team, most people out here hate the Leafs enough to refuse to watch or talk about them” is about as funny as I’ve ever heard. Take the blinders off and look around kid, the Leafs are Canada’s Team. Most opposing rinks are half filled with leafs fans, most posting boards are filled with Leafs fans. It might be wishful thinking on your part.

  31. hey prag,i read real writers and listen to real sports people like the tsn boys and not some clowns that are all legends in their own minds and make up stuff to sound interesting.
    simmonds and such are little more than national enquirer hacks and only have jobs because there are still a few feeble minded old ladies that still read them.
    anyone with any real hockey sense knows they are a joke and should be in the entertainment section right beside marmaduke.

  32. I’m not about to get into a flame war with someone who’s “devotion” to a team negates any and all serious debate.

  33. @ Daveyboy………I think you just showed us why you are so hated, kid.

    @TopRight…..the TSN guys suck it.

  34. So what’s your point Daveyboy” That the other 6 Canadian teams should just drop out and leave the NHL field to the Leafs? The fact that opposing rinks have some Leafs fans in attendance whenever they’re in town tells me that they left Toronto and re-located for a good reason. Since being a “fan” is usually based on something tangible, it can’t be that born and raised residents of those cities became Leafs fans based upon their stellar performance over the past 45 years – not to mention the past 6! I think that what say is reflective of part of the reason why many out there love to see the team lose – the arrogance that, “because we’re the biggest city in Canada it must therefore follow that we have to be the best.” Good luck with that attitude.

  35. Daveboy: Leaf fans shpw up at otehr rinks because real Leaf fans can not get seats to games in TO. It is all corporate seating and it is why the ACC is very hard pressed to be as load as the Bell or other Canadians rinks can be. And Canada’s team is whichever Canadian teams makes it furthest in the playoffs…..which has not been the Leaf’s in a while….

  36. Habsfan1 and so neither has the habs, flames, oil, and until recently the nucks but how many Canadians were cheering for them the past year? I know i couldn’t support that diving team. There is some truth in the matter that the Leafs are the most popular hockey team in the world but who cares? Good for them. I just don’t understand all the other fans getting their panties in a bunch over the fact that the Leafs happen to be more popular than your team… what are we 12?

  37. And what, exactly, are you basing that fact on A. Donnybrook? When the Leafs play in Ottawa there are upwards of 20,000 in the arena. Yes, there are lots of Leaf fans – and loud – a lot louder than they are at the ACC where it resembles a morgue at times – but are you suggesting that the MAJORITY of those 20,000 are Leafs fans? I hardly think so. Same with the other rinks. All that means is, there are a lot of displaced Torontonians – likely trying to put distance between themselves and the Lieberal governments they keep voting in in the GTA.