Thursday, September 16, 2010

On Pat Burns...

Pat Burns has apparently taken a turn for the worse. I can't say that I will miss Pat, having never met him. I can say that I will never forget him. His career as head coach spanned 14 years with 4 teams, tallying 501 wins, 2 shots at the mug, winning it once with the Devils in 2003.

Pat is known to be a fiesty character, this former cop-turn-coach has been a fighter all his life. Pat fought cancer 3 times dating back to 2004, the last, lung cancer, sadly incurable.

"I know my life is nearing its end and I accept that." - Pat Burns w/Rosie DiManno, Apr. 9, 2010, Toronto Star. A great read, that article.

May you know peace.

New Kohma @

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Propagator 102 - Zen with an X [ strange media satire / surreal comedy /...

Que Souray?

From Mark Spector, , Apr 12th 2010

Though Oilers trainer Ken Lowe was exceptional in keeping daily tabs on Souray’s medical progress, Souray said he never once heard from GM Steve Tambellini. Not even a courtesy call from the GM, who did not respond to a request to speak with Sunday evening.
"Maybe they think I’m a black sheep," Souray said. "But it’s not about me — it wouldn’t matter who it happened to. You’d think someone would want to check on the asset, wouldn’t you?
"The Oilers always prided themselves in being a family. Whatever happened to that? I haven’t talked to (Tambellini) since mid-January."
Tambellini will be actively peddling Souray this summer, something he couldn’t do at the trade deadline because of the hand injury. Souray would welcome a trade, but realizes he may have to open the season in Edmonton if Tambellini can’t find a satisfactory deal.
"I still have two years left on my contract. I made a commitment to come here when other guys wouldn’t," he said. "But you talk about Prongs (Chris Pronger) and guys like that, and it should raise an eyebrow when players who leave town are skipping out with a smile on their face." 

To this, from Mike Brophy, (for consistency), Sep 13th 2010

Souray said he was told by the Oilers he would not be invited to camp because the team is worried the situation will be a distraction to the other players.
"It's disappointing, but at the same time it's not exactly unexpected," Souray said. "I plan to continue to skate with the guys at our informal skates in preparation for the season."

Souray's being vocal here, both times, whereas Tambellini has been reserved, his silence deafening. Tambellini will be very business-like here, but he's made moving Souray even less profitable with this snub. Edmonton reeks of desperation.

A healthy Souray would bolster any team in contention, notching 20+ goals in the last two full seasons he's played, however, $5.4mil in cap hit for two years worth of an injury-prone, 34-year-old "distraction" isn't exactly tantalizing. Edmonton would need to recoup a defenceman in any deal.

Any team you know with a defenceman or two to spare, known for making big deals to get disgruntled players away from bad situations? If I wasn't certain Kevin Lowe and Brian Burke hated each other, I'd almost be worried.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

More Roster Shaping

Another Leafs post for you here at K Ω A. I couldn't stay away, what can I say? I'll try to keep this short and sweet.

Jeff Finger will not be buried in the minors unless he becomes a detriment to the team with his play. As this is not the case currently, don't expect him to be buried simply because his paycheck is too large. Not going to happen. I'm getting tired of everyone taking it for granted that he will be buried.

That said, having 8 NHL-capable d-men is obviously untenable. Kaberle is the obvious move here, but may not be the only one. Francois Beauchemin at 3.8 mil for 2 years would be an attractive commodity to many teams. Luke Schenn and Carl Gunnarsson are especially attractive because of their RFA status at the end of the coming season. Given the makeup of the current defense and the pending trade of Kaberle, one would figure the best thing to do would be to keep the more mobile and offensive defensemen, and parlay some defensive d-man depth into a skilled forward. Brian Burke is reknown for preferring tough, truculent players, however, and may see it differently.

Goaltending and bottom-six forward positions seem to be adequately filled. The only position that seems necessary to be filled is a top-six left winger. Trust Burke to address this with the Kaberle trade.

There is one last argument to be made. We have 3 centremen vying for 2 top-six positions in Bozak, Kadri and Grabovski. Coming from junior, Kadri has to make the team in training camp, and force the coaching staff to make a decision. If he does, then Grabovski will become the odd man out. You can't have both of your top centers be small, opposing teams will walk all over you. Bozak could play on the third line while Burke makes something happen, but isn't suited to the role. Grabbo could be shifted to the wing. Is Kadri better than Grabbo right now?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Breaking the Sexuality Barrier

The other day, I read an article over at Pension Plan Puppets, posted by the incomparable Wrap Around Curl. It was a spectacularly written piece in the National Post by Bruce Arthur, and it told the story of Brian Burke's walk in the Pride parade this past weekend, but the real story here is the short-lived tale of his trail-blazing son, Brendan. Please read the Arthur piece, it is very moving and worth the read. Also worthy is the John Buccigross piece, mentioned in the post.

I posted the following at PPP:

Wow. Stellar piece by Arthur. Incredibly moving.
Things seem to happen for a reason, whether fate, or act of God, or by the natural order of the universe, believe what you will. So many twists of fate later, from Burke being signed here, to Brendan coming out when he did, the Buccigross piece, the accident…
This tragedy has brought the attention of the sporting world upon the issue of gay athletes, and homosexuality in general. While it’s of little solace to those mourning Brendan this day, I believe that that particular young man would consider the price paid good value.
There is no greater primordial soup than this city, this hockey club, this date in time, and this family in which to give new life to this movement. Toronto hosts the largest Pride parade of it’s kind in North America, in a country renown throughout the world as a bastion of human rights and freedoms. The Maple Leafs are arguably the most successful franchise in North America, with the most ardently loyal fan base.
This millenium, short tenured as it has yet been, has shown time and again that the public at large is ready to accept LGBT people in all ways, even as unfamiliarity makes then uncomfortable. It had furrowed it’s brow disapprovingly at those whose sensitivities have not yet matured accordingly.
Is there a more prominent family in all of sport than the Burke’s? More affable? More loyal? More respected? Is there a more outspoken and bombastic figure than Brian Burke? You’d be hard-pressed to find a family comparable in these aspects.
This moment, captured and fostered properly, can grant Brendan the calalyst ever-lasting life, and the family a legacy that no bevy of Stanley Cups could rival.
This movement already had wings, now it has a very prominent public figurehead, and a compelling narrative. I’ve witnessed progress first-hand. I work in a Toronto-area high school, and for the first time ever I’ve witnessed an openly gay teenage boy attend, no small feat in the image and hormone driven microcosm that is high school. Good friends of mine have informed me of their sexuality, and been accepted as readily as they were before. In fact, this year I was in attendance with them at Pride festivities, my first time ever.
I sincerely hope that the fuse is lit, that teams and organizations will begin to support LGBT activism, by donating to the cause, being visible at events, and most importantly, by fostering environments of individuality, acceptance and inclusion.
I hope that gay athletes find the courage to be the people they are, and completely unapologetic. I also hope straight athletes find the courage to realize that acceptance begins by acting on the strength of their convictions, and standing side by side with their gay teammates. It’s long past due.
Sorry to wax, but this issue has moved me.

And it has moved me. Being a child of mixed race in the seventies and eighties left me keenly aware of the injustices and emotional damage wrought by the insensitivites, the ignorance and even the hatred given by those who see you as different, and therefore bad, because of something completely beyond your control. That's what this is really about. People are so much more than their color of skin, their sexual preference, their religion, their language, etc. These are largely determinations they had absolutely nothing to do with.

The athletic world is fraught with misogyny and homophobia, as it was with racism before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier. In locker rooms full of highly competitive men, every edge is seized upon, and every potential weakness is exposed. It is time for LGBT people to cast aside the mindset that being different is a weakness, where that mindset exists, and it does, and to begin to educate and expose their teammates and peers to the reality of the situation. Being LGBT has never helped or hindered anyone's ability to throw or catch, run or skate, shoot and score, win or lose. Ever. In this day and age, I think they will have more support than they will have trouble, and where there will be trouble, there will be the mindful eye of the populace. The LGBT community has more support than it knows. It's time for gay athletes to be themselves.

For more info about PFLAG:

Help make a difference, get involved.

Monday, June 21, 2010

G20 hosting benefits

So, the leaders of the 20 richest nations on the globe converge on Toronto this coming weekend, after the "in crowd" huddle up at the G8 summit in Huntsville.

I've heard both sides of the story here: Canada does benefit from being a partner in these privileged ranks, for now. Our way of life is guaranteed to be above average because of economic unions like these. Conversely, globalization is a worrisome phenomenon. All that wealth, power, and information in the hands of one entity should be a concern. Two mantras come to mind here; the cream always rises to the top; and absolute power/wealth corrupts absolutely.

Feel free to think how you want to about this issue, because either way, you're right. None of this, however, has stirred me to write this post.

My concern is that we have been told that this will be a tremendous economic boon for the city of Toronto, the province of Ontario, and Canada overall. I sincerely fail to see how this is so.
While the city of Huntsville will likely reap the rewards of having many high profile guests and media attention, I don't believe this will happen in Toronto.

A large chunk of the downtown core will be completely off-limits for the duration of the summit, including the Rogers Centre, the Air Canada Centre, Union Station, the CN Tower, Harbourfront, and swathes of the entertainment district and the financial district. The area being cordoned off is at least 20 times greater than the area actually needed for the summit.

Thousands of commuters will have to make provisions to work around this blockade, and they are the lucky ones. Many businesses will be shut down completely, and many more employees will have to miss a week of work or so to accomodate this intrusion.

Will these businesses be re-imbursed the losses they will incur for shutting down for this length of time? We're talking prime real estate here folks. Rent isn't cheap, and it's always due. This is prime time for businesses too. Some of these venues, like the Rogers Centre and Harbourfront don't make a whole lot of money in the winter. If they are being reimbursed, by who? By the government? How is that a positive for us economically?

What about the people being kept away from their livelihoods? Are they going to be reimbursed as well? How can we afford to pay people to stay home? How will the greater part of them survive without their pay if we don't?

And 1.3 billion dollars to keep this area secure? Way more spent than at the Olympics, and for way less time and fewer people to protect, albeit, more important people. This is the biggest fiasco I have ever witnessed!

It seems to be that the only people who will benefit from this whole ordeal are the Police/Army/CSIS/FBI/Secret Service/Security personnel, and the people who will feed and lodge them. They should have left this all to Huntsville, where it would have been cheaper and more beneficial to the city. I want to know how all this is being paid for!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Comprehensive Overview of the 2010 Toronto Maple Leafs

Brian Burke, Dave Nonis, Dave Poulin, Claude Loiselle and Dallas Eakins, the five-headed hydra managerial conglomerate of the Toronto Maple Leafs, have a busy summer ahead of them. I'm quite comfortable having this group calling the shots, and I have confidence that this group will not waste time in their efforts to improve the quality of the team and the depth of the organization.

First up is the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, June 25-26th, in Los Angeles. Leafs select 62nd, 112th, 122nd, 144th, 182nd, 202nd. No picks in the first, second or sixth rounds, one in the 3rd and 4th rounds, and two in each of the 5th and 7th rounds. I don't buy for a second that Burke and company will allow 61 players to be selected before they make their first podium appearance. Look for them to target a late first round pick, Phoenix's 22nd or Atlanta's 24th, as both have two first rounders, and parity in this draft sets in midway through the first round. Also, the top tier is dominated by defencemen, after Hall and Seguin, and Burke has no pressing need for defencemen. Burke isn't afraid to make deals, and does have some value on his roster which he can parlay for picks. More on that later.

Burke will add his new picks to an impressively deep prospect pool. HF Boards has the Leafs ranked at 6th for prospect depth, though that number will vary, because many of the players listed will graduate to the Leafs full time for next season, and some are yet unlisted.
Top 20 at HF Boards: 1. (1) Nazem Kadri, C 2. (2) Jonas Gustavsson, G 3. (4) Tyler Bozak, C
4. (18) Carl Gunnarsson, D 5. (5) Viktor Stalberg, LW 6. (NR) Keith Aulie, D
7. (6) Jimmy Hayes, RW 8. (8) Jesse Blacker, D 9. (11) James Reimer, G
10. (10) Christian Hanson, C 11. (13) Jerry D'Amigo, LW 12. (3) Mikhail Stefanovich, RW
13. (9) Chris DiDomenico, C 14. (NR) Philippe Paradis, LW 15. (7) Kenny Ryan, RW
16. (NR) Juraj Mikus, D 17. (NR) Korbinian Holzer, D 18. (14) Phil Oreskovic, D
19. (15) Jerome Flaake, LW 20. (16) Matt Frattin, RW

Of course this list doesn't include Jussi Rynnas, G or Ben Scrivens, G, Burke's most recent signings, giving us unprecedented depth in goal. It also doesn't include Brayden Irwin, C, Luca Caputi, LW, Joel Champagne, C & Jamie Devane, LW. I'm actually quite surprised Luca Caputi isn't further up the depth chart, as he played out the end of the season from the trade deadline, and was selected in lieu of a second round draft pick, which would have been 50th, had they not acquired Jordan Leopold from Florida. Brayden Irwin was won over to sign in Toronto with the promise of playing the remainder of the season with the big club, but needs time in the AHL to develop. Champagne has bottom-six potential, and Devane is a heavyweight, so both have the potential to become serviceable NHL'ers in the Burke system, a la Jay Rosehill.

Burke believes greatly in allowing for player development instead of rushing prospects along and potentially ruining their progress. I expect the first 5 on the list to make the Leaf roster, and Hanson, with the rest being sent to the Marlies, though any still eligible to play junior will likely return to that environment. My prediction: Kadri is a lock for the NHL this year. On to the current roster.

Signed: Phil Kessel, C, Mikhail Grabovski, C, Tyler Bozak, C, Colton Orr, RW, Viktor Stalberg, LW, Fredrik Sjostrom, RW, Luca Caputi, LW, Jay Rosehill, LW, Nazem Kadri, C, Mike Komisarek, D, Tomas Kaberle, D, Francois Beauchemin, D, Jeff Finger, D, Luke Schenn, D, Dion Phaneuf, D, Carl Gunnarsson, D, J.S. Giguere, G, Jonas Gustavsson, G, James Reimer, G.

The general assumption here is that Kaberle has played his last game in blue and white. Other players I consider movable are Grabovski, Rosehill, Komisarek, Beauchemin, Schenn and Reimer. Grabovski might go to make room for Kadri in the top-six, and might return the 2nd round pick paid for him, a decent exchange. Rosehill may pique interest from teams looking to add muscle to their lineup. I've never been sure how Komisarek and Dion would get along, considering their history with Elisha Cuthbert, but this may be moot, and with Komi coming off of injury, interest won't be great. Beauchemin may be worth more traded than he is on the roster, given the pricetag on our defense. Schenn is no longer spoken of as "the future face of the franchise" or "our next captain", and for good reason. He has yet to establish his forecast potential. A change of venue may be a boon to all parties involved. Reimer is the only goaltender I could see Burke moving, as everyone else is too new, too valuable or too expensive to move. Look for any of these names to be involved in a trade to get the Leafs into the first two rounds of the draft, or some top-six talent for the roster. If only we could move Jeff Finger....

RFA's: Nikolai Kulemin, LW, John Mitchell, C, Christian Hanson, C.

Of these, I'm hopeful all will be re-signed cheaply, though Kulemin is demanding more than Burke would like to pay. If he balks, Burke has quite a valuable trade commodity, and the RFA pool is more attractive than it's UFA counterpart, if a more expensive endeavour. I wouldn't mind moving John Mitchell, but I don't think the return would be worth it.

UFA's: Wayne Primeau, Tim Brent, Jamie Lundmark, Andre Deveaux, Mike Van Ryn, Garnet Exelby, Jonas Frogren.

Rickard Wallin has already signed in Sweden. Mike Van Ryn will get a tryout with the team, and that's a class move by the brass. I don't think any of the others merits a new contract, though Primeau was a useful player at times this year, and Lundmark, Frogren and Deveaux would all be great Marlies. It really depends on Burke's needs in filling out the affiliate's roster, and if he wants the space to test unknown commodities or use players he already knows the value of.

Free Agent Frenzy begins July 1st, and while there are useful pieces to be had, this year's crop is not laden with offensive prowess, which is what the Leafs desperately need. While I wouldn't rule out a veteran acquisition, I'm assuming that Burke sticks to the gameplan here and signs players under 30. Find a list of all available UFA's by position here, and all RFA's by team here.

Burke will find a way into the top two rounds of the draft somehow, I believe. I also foresee at least 2 big UFA signings, like Matthew Lombardi, Colby Armstrong, or Raffi Torres, and one move for RFA rights should Kulemin not re-sign with the club, David Clarkson or James Neal heading the list of those I covet here. I also predict one more trade on the horizon, either before the season starts, or within the first 30 games, to obtain the pieces necessary for roster balance and special teams improvement.

As always, your input is encouraged, and appreciated. Tell me what you think will happen, where you agree with me, or where I am completely out to lunch. Thanks for reading!

GO HAWKS GO! 2-0 Series Lead!!