NHL Canadian Corner – July 8, 2012.

Pondering how to fix the Maple Leafs, no expectations of the Jets spending like the Wild, size wasn’t a problem for the Oilers defense, and Francis Bouillon happy to return to Montreal.


Improving the Leafs a vexing problem.

THE GLOBE AND MAIL: James Mirtle recently pondered how to fix the Toronto Maple Leafs, and finds it’s not going to be easy.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The biggest problem area is between the pipes, and if that isn’t suitably address, the Leafs won’t have a prayer of making the playoffs.

WINNIPEG SUN: Paul Friesen tells Jets fans not to expect their club to get into the bidding for big name UFAs for the foreseeable future, but of course you knew that already.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The signings of Jokinen and Ponikarovsky at least suggest Jets management won’t just sit on the wallets during free agency, but no, they’re not going to chase big name talent, at least not for a few years.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jonathan Willis reveals the Oilers had the fourth-biggest defense in the NHL last season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Willis points out, however, size isn’t enough if there isn’t sufficient skill to go with it. In other words, tt’s not how big your blueline is, it’s how well it performs that matters.

CANOE.CA: Defenseman Francis Bouillon is thrilled to be returning to Montreal. The Canadiens signed Bouillon as a free agent last week.


  1. It all comes down to Goaltending for the Leafs. The last time the Leafs made the playoffs in 2004 they had Belfor and prior to that they had Cujo from 1999 onwards.

  2. are the Leafs really that bad ? I don’t think so. If Richards signs with the Buds last year they make the playoffs. Goaltending does need to be addressed and a full season of Carlye teaching defensive awarness and they are right back in the thick of things. Hell there is even a top line centre with conelly as back up. This doom and gloom talk is a little much . Last season collapes was a new thing. Love to see the Phaneuf go for a steady stay at home go guy.

    • Obviously you haven’t watched many Leaf games. Goaltending was an issue all year and has gotten worse this year having to pin all your hopes on Remier (concussion issues and very little NHL experience) and Scrivens (no NHL experience). Who’s the top line center, Bozak?? Connelly got out played by Bozak who is soft on the puck, doesn’t hit and won’t stand in front of the net so that’s pretty bad.
      Just go back and watch any game the Leaf’s played against Boston last year and you will see the top line get pushed around and disapear along with the defence and goaltending then you will know what all the doom and gloom is about.

  3. Nice to see bouillon coming back. I didn’t like when he left but he got more money in Nashville. I’m really liking that there are players who are fans of the team playing in Montreal. PK, Cole, Armstrong, Bouillon (wants to play in Montreal), Moen. It’s good for character in the locker room because you will have guys that work hard AND care about team success. Now just put me in the locker room! I’ll play in and out I the press box and only practice winning draws and tips! Lol.

  4. Yes the Leafs are that bad. Burkes comment of looking for “another top 2 center”, who is the first one? Connoly? Bozak? or has JVR already assumed that role? The Leafs have collected a wealth of bottom 6 forwards, and bottom 4 defencemen, and backup goaltenders. Unfortunately the holes they have cant easily be fixed and that is Burkes major hurdle, asking the fans for more patience….

    I know its politically correct to not be negative about the Jets, and to just be grateful they are back in Winnipeg. As someone who lives in Winnipeg, I dont see the rosey future others are talking about. Andropov and Jokinnen would have been good signings if they were supporting cast, but they are expected to take marquee roles on the Jets. Like the Leafs, the Jets have a wealth of bottom 6 forwards, and given his 2nd year in junior, Schiefle may not be the 1C the jets hope, at least not for a while (still believe passing on Couturier was a mistake). The Jets have yet to seperate themselves from the Atlanta identity other than the fanbase.

    • Both teams have a small stock pile of young talant that may or may not riase to the occassion. You guys have a marquee forward and defender to build off of so if another couple of young guns can step it up by next year you are starting to form a good base. You would know the Jets future better then me but seems like you have a better start at a rebuild then the Leafs.

  5. JVR is of course the top centre. Making conolly #3 and Bozak spare parts or depth. I just don’t need to hop on the doom and gloom bandwagon for a team that held a playoff position till February. That monumental losing streak was a new way to miss the playoffs. And Beergoggles I watch every game except a few in November. Keep listening the to the media and don’t even bother to have your own opinion.

  6. Oh yeah who didn’t the Bruins top line push around? Goaltending was obviously the biggest problem during the collapse.

    • Considering my name was FIREWILSON from well before the collapse because I could see how poorly they were being coached even though they were still winning is some testatment that I don’t listen to the media and have nothing but my own opinion.
      JVR is the top center??? Since when?? They said they MAY try him if they can’t secure a proper center but we all know the guy hasn’t played there since junior so this is just another recipe for disaster.
      If you watched every Leaf game you wouldn’t have this opinion. Goaltending was brutel most of the year, the forwards were pushed around by most teams but the over all coaching just sucked. The team went on that monumental losing streak because they didn’t play defence, neither goaltender could stop a puck when the pressure was applied and the forwards didn’t back check or forecheck for that matter. So what you are saying is you would just go into next year with the exact same team or tinker a little bit? Sorry won’t help.
      1. Leafs need a goaltender
      2. They need to get scrappier players and get bigger
      3. They need to learn to play defence first and foremost and only then can they start to gamble a bit with an offensive game against certain teams.

  7. You sound like Burke. Yet he will go into the season with Reimer and Scrivens if he has to. Scrappy players like Prust would have been nice but in the eyes of Burke they were overpaid this month. Rumour has it Kaleta from Buffalo may be available. That team upgraded their truculance factor. Kaleta is part of that but if he is available he would replace Rosehill, etc.

  8. Toronto’s problem (in my humble opinion) is that they didn’t fully rebuild. Trying to rebuild and win at the same time just doesn’t work. You just have to look at Burke’s track record while in TO for proof.

  9. The lack of a top line centre is by far the owrst thing about this team. The goal is not as bad as it looks if the defence does a better job. Riemer had a concussion last year and should rebound this year. I hope there is no changes in goal as this is a young team and they should be allowed to sink or swim on there own merrits.

  10. JVR was a centre up until he hit the NHL, Is he a natural centre we will not know until we give him a try and unless we get someone better I would go hard after Getz. We should send pretty much anything it would take to get him other than Gardner or Colbourne. I would send ANA Grabo, Mac/Kule,2013 1st and either Kadri or Rielly.

    • @ HABS_FTW to say the Leafs haven’t totally Rebuilt since Burke arrival is nonsense. If you look at the roster today and compare it to 4-5years ago when that blowfish arrived, it is totally different. i dont think there is one player even on the roster that was there when he arrived. Burke’s experiment in Toronto has failed, from coaching selection, ufa’s, drafting, trades and so on.The Leafs looked “promising” after November last year because they had the easiest schedule in the league. As for JVR playing center, I wont pass judgement on that until a month or so into the year. Cammellari hadnt played center for 5-6 yrs i think and Calgary moved him there last year and he did alright. But at the sametime, i think its Burke deflecting his failure in landing any UFA”S or abililty to trade for that 1st/2nd line center.

    • You can add Colborne to that list. Have you seen him play? He plays like he’s 5’5″ so if you are counting on a big tough center in the future you will get nothing of the sort. Burke got swindled on that deal for Kab’s.

  11. Jay, yes the teams are different.. but a ‘rebuild’ is basically selling off all your wanted players for picks/prospects, suck bad for a couple years to get into good draft position, and build from within with your youth.

    Burke has always said he didn’t want to do that, and wanted to remain competitive thus doing things like trading away 2 first rounders for Kessel. (not knocking the trade, just saying you would never do that in a rebuild mode)

    Hindsight is 20/20, so it’s easy for me to sit here and say whatever he did, he did it wrong. I just think they should have went 100% rebuild…

  12. Just because a guy is big does not mean he has to play big. I like what I saw from Cobourne before he got hurt last year. If he can stay healthy he will be a good skilled forward that has some size, much like JVR.

  13. Anyone notice the Leafs were a playoff team while they had the most injuries. It was when they were healthy they sucked. Guys like Colboure played well. BeerGoggles I do agree that they need a goalie more than anything. Fact if Van wants too much for Luongo I would rather see what it would take to pry Halak out of St. Louis with Elliot playing so good