Several Canucks attend the funeral for former teammate Rick Rypien, wondering if Sam Gagner is ready to improve his defensive game, and MLSEL president Richard Peddie believes the Maple Leafs can make the playoffs this season.

VANCOUVER CANUCKS.

VANCOUVER PROVINCE (VIA CALGARY HERALD): reported Canucks Kevin Bieksa, Alex Burrows, Mason Raymond, Aaron Rome and Darcy Hordichuk, along with GM Mike Gillis, were among the more than 1, 000 mourners who attended yesterday’s funeral of former Canuck Rick Rypien.

“I was very proud to have known him, proud to have thought of him as a friend, to work with him, to share some of the successes,” said Mike Gillis, the Canucks’ general manager.

“On days like this, it is extremely challenging for everybody who knows someone like Rick,” said the distraught Gillis.

EDMONTON OILERS.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples recently wondered if Oilers center Sam Gagner will be improving his defensive play this coming season, as his stats indicate his defensive game was “atrocious”.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: According to the poll Staples included in his post on the subject, over 53 percent of readers believe Gagner will improve defensively this season. It’s important to remember that Gagner is still young, only 22, and it takes time for offensive-minded players of his age group to improve their defensive play. Count me among those who believes he’ll improve in that department this season.

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS.

TORONTO SUN: Steve Buffery recently reported Richard Peddie, president of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd, guaranteed the Maple Leafs will make the playoffs this season.

“Absolutely,” Peddie said, when asked if he was certain about his prediction. “But I guess Burkie’s going to kill me now.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs roster is better compared to last season’s. Connolly and Lombardi (if they can stay healthy) could provide decent depth at center, I like the additions of John-Michael Liles and Cody Franson on the blueline, and they do have some promising young players. Ultimately, their playoff hopes rest upon their goaltending. If James Reimer struggles to play up to expectations and Jonas Gustavsson fails to make significant improvement, the Leafs will be toast.