Need a bit of a break from the madness that is the Patrick Kane scandal? Of course you do.
For most teams, the off-season is pretty quiet with only minor trades, signings or the occasional update. Those lucky bastards... So all the SBN bloggers got paired up to trade some questions to each other about our respective teams. We were lucky enough to get paired up with one of the best site on SBN, if not just one of the best team-specific sites on these internets, Pension Plan Puppets - SBN's home for Maple Leaf fans.
Click the jump to read our questions and their answers - then be sure to visit their site to read the answers we gave to their questions. Just be glad we answered these questions last week before this latest controversy.
Our questions are in bold: Away we go!
Not that he was ever really all that popular here, but Burke is quickly gaining a lot of enemies here in Chicago. A few days after his comments that the league "absolutely needs to look at term limits" - we get word that the NHL is investigating the Hossa deal and that "lots of other GMs are supporting the league". So thanks for that... I guess the question is - why is Brian Burke such a douchenozzle? How quickly will we see him change his tune when someone like Schenn needs a new contract or if any big name free agent really wanted to play for the Leafs? What are you opinions on these types of deals? And now that I've called Burke a douchenozzle... what will he give us for Dustin Byfuglien?
If fans of other teams ever like our GM again I'll wonder if JFJ has been re-hired. Burke loves a microphone, holds strong opinions, and sticks to his guns. I'd argue that it's more douchenozzle-y to circumvent the salary cap, and that's what it is whether there's a handshake agreement or a wink and a nod between the teams and players, because your boss liked Alfonso Soriano so much that he wanted to make an equally 'great' signing in the hockey world.
You won't see Burke change his tune for two reasons: One - the Leafs didn't give two goalies $6M contracts and no glorified forward is making $7M. Two - you only need to do those deals when you have lots of great young players to protect. We only have Schenn so it shouldn't be a problem.
As for Byfuglien, I am sure Burke likes the work he does being irritating and hitting a lot but I know for a fact that a lot of commenters at your site call him lazy. You can't trick Burke!
You hammered it home that the Leafs were 10th overall in goals for in last season - we get it now. So was the D and the goaltending really just that bad? Burke certainly beefed up the blue line to go along with all those big words he uses about being tough - is there a lot of scoring coming through the system? Is this something the Leafs should focus on?
It's not the bloggers that can read that need to know that the Leafs were 10th in scoring it's the mainstream media that'll spend the next two months writing stories about their lack of scoring. If they want a storyline how about the fact that the Leafs don't have a consistent scorer. There's no star that you know is a threat to score every shift like an Ovechkin, Crosby, or Malkin. We don't even have the close second tier of players like Kane or Toews.
The goaltending and penalty kill was just that bad last year. They killed penalties at a 69% rate on home ice. Read that again and try to fathom how terrible that is for a professional hockey team. Burke's not only beefed up the blue line to make it more pugnacious, testosterone-filled, truculent and belligerent but Beauchemin and Komisarek should help improve the penalty kill.
As for scoring coming through the system, there aren't any big names or kids that you could say are locks to produce bucketloads at the NHL level. However, Jiri Tlusty was a point a game player in the AHL last year, Mikhail Stefanovich and Chris DiDomenico were offensive leaders on their playoff teams in junior, and I like the future for Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin. These are five guys that could get into the 20-30 goal range in the NHL.
Is Justin Pogge broken? That would explain the Jonas Gustavsson signing, yes? (note: this was obviously asked before the news that the Leafs traded Pogge to the Ducks)
He is definitely broken and a large part of that has to do with the terrible goalie coach turned piece of shit Steve McKichan. The Francois Allaire could be his chance at redemption as the greatest goalie coach in history tries to rebuild what a poor man's version destroyed. The Gustavsson signing was definitely made to address the lack of a backup/goalie of the future. It was also another case of Burke pursuing and beating out a number of teams for a top-rated prospect.
A few years ago I could walk up to the United Center 15 minutes before game time - convince the guy in the box office I was still a student and grab an $8 ticket to the upper level and pretty much have my choice of seats... not so much anymore. So as Leaf fans, what can you tell us about not being able to find or afford tickets anymore? Any advice?
Step One: Start hating the corporate SOBs that are going to latch onto the bandwagon, buy up the best seats, and miss the majority of the game.
The wonderful benefit of this is that their presense moves everyone else up a colour (ie platinum to gold) and leaves you fighting with the rest of the serfs for the approximately 400 reasonably priced available seats. I hope that you work fast on Ticketbastard or know someone with seasons.
What would be worse for you as Leaf fans? A team like the Senators winning the cup (I'll wait for you to stop laughing at the idea that will ever happen.......) or the Blackhawks winning the cup, making the Leafs the team with the longest drought?
Well, considering everyone in the league already thinks that 1967 is the oldest drought because Hawks fans do such a great job of keeping quiet in the background lest 1961 be brought up it wouldn't be that big of a blow. Not that I'd be happy about it. We'll still get to laugh at the majority of those fans since their teams have either never won a Cup (Ottawa, Vancouver, Buffalo) or have long droughts themselves (Philadelphia, Islanders),
Now, if Ottawa won it would be the end of the world. This is a fanbase made entirely of bandwagoners and former Leafs/Habs fans that, despite the senators failure to ever eliminate the Leafs from the playoffs, holds their Stanley Cup Final APPEARANCE as some pinnacle of achievement. Ignore the fact that they waltzed through a pathetic Eastern Conference before being embarrassed in five games or that Chris Phillips scored the Cup-winning goal. They'd be insufferable now if they weren't invisible now that the wheels are coming off. If they won the Cup? God help us all.
Big thanks to the guys over at PPP - or just to Julian if he was the only one who answered the questions. Word is there might be a field trip of there army here to Chicago for the Leafs game so we'll be sure to have more details about that as we get them.. stay tuned.