NHL Canadian Corner – February 29, 2012.

Senators shut out Bruins…Flames struggles tied to Jarome Iginla’s…Zach Kassian faces tough battle to win over Canucks fans…Maple Leafs fall flat against Panthers…Jets starting to slump again…Reality of trade sinking in for new Oiler Nick Schultz…Canadiens drop fifth straight game.


Lehner making the most of his opportunity.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators rookie goalie Robin Lehner won a goaltending duel with Boston’s Tim Thomas, as the Senators edged the Bruins 1-0.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s Lehner’s second win in as many games. Looks like he’s making the most of his opportunity.

CALGARY HERALD: As Jarome Iginla goes, so goes the Flames.

VANCOUVER SUN: New Canuck Zach Kassian could face an uphill battle winning over fans upset over promising Cody Hodgson being swapped for him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canucks fans should be patient with Kassian. If he turns into the player management believes he could become, this deal could be a win for Vancouver.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs fans vented their frustration during their club’s 5-3 loss to the Florida Panthers, at times chanting for head coach Ron Wilson to be fired.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Facing the prospect of an seventh straight season missing the playoffs, Leafs fans are understandably losing patience. Won’t result in Wilson being fired; at least, not during this season.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets are starting to slump again, with only one win in their last four games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Leafs and Capitals struggling, the Jets must seize this opportunity to clinch a playoff berth.

EDMONTON SUN: New Oiler Nick Schultz comes to grips with being dealt from the Minnesota Wild.

CANOE.CA: The Montreal Canadiens suffered their seventh loss in eight games, falling 2-1 to the Tampa Bay Lightning.


  1. The name says it all… or is creating this name sometime back in November make me full of senseless ramblings.

    I think not.

  2. I agree 100%

  3. Fire Wilson or don’t fire Wilson I’m not sure it matters right now. I agree though… if they lose tonight (espeically badly) they need to make a change.
    I love Randy Carlisle, and thought he did a great job with the Ducks. I think that he is a good fit for the Leafs. I would leave Dallas Eakins in the AHL as he has them paying really well and it is in the best interest of the Leafs that their prospects have some playof experience/success.

    Look at the Leaf’s remaining games, its conceivabl they may not win another game all year.

    Multiple Pit, Bos, Phi, Buf, Mtl… Games against “weak” teams are weekday Southeast matchups, like a Tuesday vs Florida, which are typically auto-losses anyway! BINGO! Throw in a Friday night in NJ… this does not bode well…..

  4. Unfortunately, the Habs and Leafs are in pretty much the same situation. They have mediocre teams with poor leadership in markets with high expectations. As a Habs fan, I can’t honestly look at that roster and say it has the goods to make the playoffs, regardless of whatever drama was unfolding. There is no genuine top line, and the defense was average before Markov was written off for the bulk of the season. We have a great goalie, a great second line, and a core of young players with serious potential. That’s pretty much where it ends.

    For the Leafs, the needs are a little different. You have 2 great back up goalies. Burke invested in Reimer on far too little information. The C-men are weak. Players who had an anomaly of a season last year were counted upon to replicate and did not, and as a result there is no secondary scoring. The defense has potential, but is very young.

    Both GMs made the mistake of keeping a coach around that the team will not produce for, and in fairness, each coach was not exactly given superstars to work with. I still like Burke, but he has to do two things. He has to give up his love affair with Wilson and bring in some fresh life behind the bench. Then he has to acknowledge that he read some players wrong (Reimer and Schenn got premature large contracts) and make some tough decisions to fill holes.

    As for the Habs, they need a clean sweep at both the management and coaching levels.

  5. I wouldn’t say that the Leafs and Habs are in the same spot for three reasons:

    1) The Habs are saddled with terrible long term contracts to Gomez, Gionta, Cole, Kaberle (about $20M). Yes the leafs have a bad one in Komisarek, but the rest of their bad contracts like Armstrong and Connoly expire at the end of next season.
    2) The Leafs have a lot of really good talent in the AHL and Junior. The habs have a couple of guys with promise, but the depth in their system is weak.
    3) The Habs have a legitimate all star in net. The Leafs still need to go out and find one- and one who can also mentor Reimer for a season or two.

  6. Nikk- check cap geek and see how torontos cap looks for next year compared to montreals. Then factor in the one time buy out that is almost certain to be coming and the habs have almost 30 million in space. Leafs don’t have D prospects like Beaulieu, Tinordi, lesser extent Nash. Leafs have Holzer. Which Leaf prospect beyond Frattin has been lighting up the AHL? I would think they would have called up some other guys at this point if they deserved a look?
    Bad contracts are what the Leafs do: Phanuef, Connolly, Lombardi, Schenn, Armstrong, komisarek, finger.
    Fact is the Leafs over achieved huge for a couple stretches this year, the coach has lost the room, the pressure has destroyed the goalies, and theres not enough leadership in the room to rally the guys.
    You can say the Habs are junk this year and I’ll agree wholeheartedly with you. But I will point to the fact that for big parts of the season the Canadiens were icing teams that didn’t even meet the cap floor because of injuries. I think the Canadiens were forced to lean on many young and inexperienced players and it didnt pan out The coach and GM situation are crazy bad right now and will be changed at the end of the year.
    IF the Canadiens grab Grigorekno or Forsberg at the draft thats a huge piece to add. Not to mention who could be acquired when Gomez is off the books. If the Habs knew how to play with lead and won half their OT/SO games the would be in a playoff position. At this point you can see that some players are still driving hard but some don’t want to get hurt. Fine by me, lose until we get that top three pick. Other teams have done it, it’s been over a half century since the habs could pick that high. Anyways, don’t be so fast to say the Canadiens have all those issues when the leafs have to same of not worse problems. The Leafs just had a few good stretches at the beginning, but look exactly like how they looked last year for the first 60% of the year. You can’t keep taking about your goalies being crap in the media when they are so young and have been over hyped, and giving marketing nicknames, and playing in a huge hockey market, and have a leadership group that can’t get the group to the level they were playing at in the most important time of the year.
    Bottom line is the Leafs/Habs coaching situation is bad. I would say the Leafs is worse because you aren’t getting rid of Wilson until Burke is gone. So there has to be a decision after the season if these two are the ones you want running this thing. Personally, after mortgaging the future for Kessel and then failing to build around him properly in the first two years I would be calling for this guys head. You don’t pull a move like that and not have a proper plan (or buzzword: blueprint lol) to make a playoff team so you don’t hand away a future franchise player and blue chip D prospect. Let’s e realistic too, the lupul trade was about getting Gardiner and hoping lupul could chip in40-50 pts and stay healthy. Without lupuls golden perfomrance this year the leafs would be fighting for last. Better hope he can do the same thing next year.

    Angry rant over!

  7. @NikK
    Randy Carlyle is an interesting choice to coach the Leafs but I wouldn’t make that decision solely based on the fact you want to keep Eakins with the Marlies. There are plenty of other coaches that could take over the Marlies such as Bob Boughner coach of the Windsor Spit’s. He has done an fantastic job getting former Windsor Spit players to the NHL. Here is a write up on some of the players he has coached now playing in the NHL.


    I’d love to see what Eakins can do with the young Maple Leaf players but the biggest issue is whether or not he can handle the spot light of the Maple Leafs since it’s a far cry from the Marlies.

  8. LOL.. Smeilman, its hard to respond to such a rant!!!!

    First let me point out Im not a Leafs fan.

    Now let me point out:

    1) D prospects the leafs have Gardiner, Blacker, Percy, and Holzer… which to my research (you should read up) are better than Beaulieu Tinordi, and nash, not to mention that’s 4 guys vs 3 guys…. so to my original point have more prospect dept. Typical habs fans forget to look at the full list of Leafs’ players. Also when looking at forward prospects, its not even close (Kadri, Colborne, Frattin, Biggs, McKegg, Ross, Ashton etc..) vs (Leblanc, Gallagher, Gefferion, Kristo, Palushaj etc..)

    2) Finger’s contract is irelevant becasue he is in the minors. Phaneuf is overpayed, but a cap hit of $6.5M for a $5M defenseman isnt the worst case ever. Connolly, Lombardi and Armstong’s contracts expire next season whereas Gionta, Cole, and kaberle have longer term left.

    3) “Cap space” is a misconception. Sure, the Habs have more cap space for next season compared to the leafs, but they only have 11 players signed. One of them is a backup goalie, and 4 of them are the overpaid contracts of Gomez, Gionta, Cole, Kaberle. So that leaves 6 good contracts for next season. You have to re-up Price… so kiss another $6M goodbye. You still have to sign or resign +/- 10 players and address problems with skill and depth. two of those guys are Emelin and Diaz who will want more than the <$1M they are making this year.

    Cap space is nice for a team like Colorado, LA, and Edmonton who already have a ton of skill and now need to add or round out their roster.

    4) You did have callups this season of Kadri and Colborne who have played very well in the AHL this season. The best thing for both of those guys, as well as Frattin is to play in the AHL all year.
    I didn't say the leafs don't have issues. They most certainly do. They are just different issues for teams in different spots of a rebuild. the Leafs started their 3 seasons ago, the Habs are going to start at teh end of this year.

    5) At the end of your rant you refer to a trade where the Leafs traded away a franchise player and blue chip D prospect. I gues syou are referring to the Kessel deal.

    When the deal was made it was for two 1st rd pick and a 2nd rd pick.
    Who Boston drafted with those picks was 12 months later!!!! Had Burke or anyone had a crystal ball to tell him it would be Tyler Seguin/Dougie Hamilton he would have not made the deal.
    Hindsight is 20/20. So no, he didnt trade Seguin/Hamilton. He traded picks (now that did en up worst-case for him and blew up in his face).

  9. Thank you for someone pointing out that they traded picks not Seguin/Hamilton. Kessel not being on the team changes what would have happened during the off-season and season. Coulda finished higher, coulda finished lower. They didn’t, ended up that’s who the picks were so we live with it.

    Also great post NikK, I wish people who WERE Leafs fans would take the time to post more things like this instead of making us look like fools!

  10. @ Fire Wilson,
    I am a bit biased about Carlisle, obviously… but I think he is the right kind of gy for this team. A fres face, a guy who’s been there before and won a cup. Maybe he can get them motiated.

    if they win in Chicago tonight, they do nothing. If they get popped for 5 goals again, something’s gotta give. You cant just blow thelast 1/4 of the season because of stubborness.

  11. @ Nikk: You posted this twice so I have responds. Have you watched any Habs games this year? Eric Cole has been worth every penny of his deal. That is not a bad contract. Add to that the leadrship he has brought and the contract looks even better. Leave Cole out of it because you are wrong on that count. As for Gionta…that is not a good contract but significantly better than the others. He is not worth the his cap hit but is far closer than either Kaberle or Gomez, no question.

    Yes Burke traded picks and yes he really did believe the leafs woud have been better that year so the 1st would not have been such a high pick but come on….he MUST have know the BEST he could have hoped for was a first round elimination meaning that pick was going to be quality. Not Seguin quality, but that it had a far better chance of bitting him than working out.

  12. @ habsfan: i ahve watched a bunch of habs games this year (maybe 10?).
    Cole has been good lately, not at the beginning of the season… but that’s a 4 year deal for a guy who is 33 years old. Its a bad contract based on the fact that his production will not continue until he is 37.
    He may suprise me, but unlikely.

    Yes, a #17-21 pick overall is quality, but well worth it based on what you get in Kessel.
    Again, it just ened up worst case scenario…. absolutely worst case scenario- like the best player in the draft!

  13. Well with the leafs in a tail spin we will see them get a better pick this year, and Wilson will likely be gone. I think it’d actually be best for Wilson to finish out the year and finally give Dallas Eakins a shot at the pro club. He’d at least be one of the top candidates.

  14. As it was against both the Panthers and the Blackhawks, the players don’t want to win under Ron Wilson and are quite happy to lose all remaining games until Burke catches on to this very fact.

    Be it right or wrong, and 600+ wins later, Wilson is loathed by his players and they will continue to entertain both fans and management with indifferent or just not good enough play until Burke finally realizes that his buddy Ron Wilson is no longer wanted in Toronto. The fans said so the other night against Florida and again against Chicago.

    So Mr. Burke, the losing will continue and it wont be due to hard work either, but rather by a team that has said, and I put it politely too, F U Ron Wilson.