Sunday, January 31, 2010

Deadline Day Comes Early

dion phaneuf leafs trade
Last night the Leafs lost after striking an early 3 goal lead against one of the best goalies in the league. My dad pondered aloud how they would blow this one. As the eternal optimist, I suggested Kessel had another 5 goals in him, so the night was over. Did I believe it? Well, certainly not the 5 goals and I was even skeptical about the win at that point. When Raycroft came in I outwardly proclaimed domination (inwardly, I was very scared for Razor’s wrath). The Leafs ended up losing 5-3 and I hardly cared, just another day in Leafs Nation. At this point I accepted the ex-Leafs pick will be in the top-5 and in all likelihood the Leafs will win the draft lottery when they no longer own the pick. I’ve soured on pretty much everyone on the team. I was apathetic. Then I woke up this morning to the sounds of trades. My dad was listening to the radio, I was scouring the internet for information, Rick called me jubilantly, and texts from friends flew rapidly. Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Kovalchuk Conundrum

ilya kovalchuk goal thrashers
Ilya Kovalchuk is the best pure goal scorer in the NHL. That’s a ballsy statement considering the goal-scoring prowess of Alexander Ovechkin. But notice that I used the word pure. Ovechkin isn’t a pure goal scorer because he does a lot more for the Washington Capitals than just score goals. He basically plays like a 3rd line energy player, but just happens to have the talents of an elite goal-scorer.

There are many rumours that suggest the Leafs would love to add Kovalchuk if he makes it to free agency this off-season. Kovalchuk’s goal-scoring abilities are sorely lacking from the Leafs line-up and his addition would instantly make the Leafs a playoff team, but I’m not content with just a playoff team. I want Leafs management to build a team capable of contending for the Stanley Cup. I don’t mind waiting, but I want to see it done right. I don’t think signing Kovalchuk to a ridiculous long-term contract is the answer to the Leafs problems.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

How to Build a Stanley Cup Champion

brian burke stanley cup ducks
We here at Five Minutes For Fighting are unapologetic Leafs fans, but I do believe that we try to analyze the team’s strengths and weaknesses in a fairly unbiased manner (…fairly). While we dole out punishment on other teams, cities, GMs, and players, we also spend a great deal of time (or plan to) critically examining everything about the Leafs, both good and bad. So, for fairness’ sake, today we are taking a look at Brian Burke’s first Stanley Cup victory with the Los Angeles Ducks of Anaheim and the luck involved in creating a championship team.

First, Leafs Nation is characterized as being overly effusive over Brian Burke’s hiring as Leafs GM. We allegedly canonize him as the second-coming of Conn Smythe. This isn’t entirely true. Yes, you will find it hard to get a Leafs fan to speak negatively about Brian Burke, but we do not believe he is the greatest GM in the history of the league. A more accurate description would be the best GM available at the time of his hiring, or the best GM in the history of the league compared to JFJ. Either works.

While Burke does have negative qualities, one of which is his poor draft record, he’s viewed as having complete autonomy from the moronic upper-management of MLSE and, more importantly, he has a Stanley Cup ring. But winning a Stanley Cup in the NHL requires more than just talent. It requires a great deal of luck as well. Brian Burke’s first Stanley Cup victory (and we’ll say it won’t be his last, right Leafs fans?) is testament to this. He largely inherited a quality team that only needed a few bold moves to make itself a championship calibre team.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

King's Ransom

wayne gretzky oilers stanley cup
August 9, 1988 is a day that will live in infamy for Canadians. It marks the day that Oilers GM Peter Pocklington sold Canada’s favourite son, Wayne Gretzky. It was a trade that literally shook the nation to its core. If hockey is a religion in Canada (pretty much) then Wayne is Jesus. People sent death threats to Pocklington and he still hasn’t been forgiven 20 years later, especially by the residents of Edmonton. Poor Edmonton, the city Wayne practically founded, has spiralled into a meth and hooker binge that it has yet to recover from (or so To Serve and Protect would have me believe).

Kings Ransom is a documentary by Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights) investigating the development and culmination of the biggest trade in sports history. What other example can you think of a transcendental player being traded during his absolute prime (Wilt Chamberlain maybe)? It’s part of the ESPN series 30 for 30, which is a set of documentaries celebrating ESPN’s 30th year. These aren’t necessarily the 30 biggest sports stories of the past 30 years, rather, they are 30 stories that 30 prominent directors were compelled to make. This gives an interesting view on diverse and often obscure subjects such as the USFL, the death of Len Bias, and the advent of Rotisserie baseball (excessively excited to watch that one…seriously).

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Leafs and their Jersey Shore Equivalent

jersey shore mtv
Last night was the season finale of the Jersey Shore. If you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months then you may not know about the Jersey Shore. It’s a reality TV show produced by MTV (who else) surrounding the lives of 8 self proclaimed guidos and guidettes living in a beach house in Seaside Heights. It’s absolutely terrible, probably the worst TV show ever made and that’s bad considering The Hills has a dozen spin-offs. But in its odiousness it is actually pretty brilliant. It’s like watching a sex show in Amsterdam featuring a midget and a half-ton chick. You don’t want to watch, but you’re absolutely absorbed by the horrific scene in front of you.

I also watched a horrific scene unfold in the Leafs game last night against the Lightning. No point talking about a loss that has a dozen identical games. Either they get blown out huge or lose late in gut wrenching fashion. Where’s the intrigue?

In honour of these two monstrosities I’m unveiling the most vacuous post you will ever see on this site. I’m going to attempt to analyze each Jersey Shore cast member and find their Toronto Maple Leafs counterpart. Have I undertaken a task too large? Have I completely lost it? Watching the Toronto Maple Leafs play this season has done this to me.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Monster of a Dilemma

jonas gustavsson sucks leafsYou see what I did with that title? That’s the type of literary genius that will get you job offers from the Toronto Sun. At least this post will have better grammar and fewer boobs than the average Sun column. I also contemplated naming this post Monster of a Situation as a thinly veiled segue into discussing the Jersey Shore. Unfortunately, that title didn’t make as much sense, so you’ll have to wait to see which Toronto Maple Leaf player is most like Snooki. Not even the Sun would print that. Luckily this is the internet and you can find anything and everything compared to the Jersey Shore.

Where is this going besides revealing my intense fascination with New Jersey's beach side? I’m trying to discuss the Leafs goaltending situation and the potential solutions available to Brian Burke.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Why Vancouver Wrongly Fired Dave Nonis

dave nonis canucks
It’s not very hard to make fun of us fans comprising Leafs Nation. There is the obvious 1967 angle, the bogus trade history, botched drafts, the entire 1980s, and pretty much anything else that falls under the category of disappointments. Leafs Nation as a collective is also a source of hilarity. We’re just as despondent as we are optimistic. After one win we’re thinking playoffs and after one loss we’re lamenting Taylor Hall. The vacillation is incredible. Rick has been on and off the bandwagon so often this year he’s bought a monthly pass. We take everything a little too seriously and we love to get way ahead of ourselves. After one beauty goal we’ve penciled in Tyler Bozak as the number 1 centre for the foreseeable future. That’s Leafs Nation.

Being a maniacal member of Leafs Nation I keep my ear to the streets for any slight against the Leafs. That’s another characteristic, we’re extremely loyal and very quick to defend (no matter how rational an argument against). Fights over disparaging Mats Sundin remarks aren’t uncommon. However, there is a new source of criticism being thrown at Leafs Nation. That criticism concerns the bold new management team led by brash Brian Burke. Much of this criticism developed as a response to our proclamation that Burke was the saviour (not that we’d go all Jesus Price on everyone). We’re Leafs Nation; we work in hyperbole, not necessarily reality. I don’t need to defend Brian Burke. He’s loud and outspoken and his Stanley Cup ring speaks for itself. However, poor Dave Nonis gets lumped in with the Burke hate from traducers and receives ridicule for his role in the brief demise of the Vancouver Canucks (missing the playoffs twice in three years). The worst I’ve seen is him labeled as the man who ruined the Canucks. This is so malicious I just had to stick up for Nonis. I'm no hero, just doing my duty as a Leafs fan.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Moby? You Can Get Stomped By Ovi

I like Alexander Ovechkin. I know I just ranted and raved about Sidney Crosby and I’m now about to criticize Ovechkin, but I really do like Ovechkin. He’s the most fun player in the league to watch. His goals are ridiculous and he’s physical. Unfortunately, his physicality is beginning to cross the line in certain instances. This isn’t a Crosby vs. Ovechkin thing. It isn’t a Canada vs. Russia thing. This is something that I find extremely grating about one of the most exciting players in the league. It’s got to the point where I am slowly turning on Ovechkin and I don’t want that.

At this point I’m sure everyone has seen the clip of the Ovechkin-Downie near-fight. Ovechkin should be embarrassed by this.

I understand the rationale of Matt Bradley and the entire Capitals team for not allowing the fight to happen. It’s never a good thing when your best player is off the ice for five minutes and it is especially worse if that player becomes injured fighting. It's also never a good thing to have your best player goaded into a fight with a little rat, but Ovechkin dropped the gloves and at that moment the fight should be between those two players. The fight didn't happen because Ovechkin is the best player in the league and Washington can't lose him.

However, Alexander Ovechkin needs some sort of accountability. The majority of his hits are legal and this is a very valuable part of his game. It makes it much harder to play against Ovechkin when he takes as much pleasure in physically punishing opponents as he does lighting up goalies. But because he plays with so much exuberance and energy he periodically crosses the line and throws dirty hits. This was clear in last year’s knee-on-knee with Sergei Gonchar and again with this season’s knee-on-knee against Tim Gleason. These are not even isolated incidents. He has hit Briere from behind and slew footed Rich Peverley. His hits also border on charging numerous times. The way he runs around the ice unchallenged is wrong.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Defending Sidney Crosby

sidney crosby penguins
Alexander Ovechkin is undoubtedly the most electric player in the NHL. He is a legitimate 70 goal threat and can score from anywhere on the ice, including his back. He strikes fear in opponents and fans like no other player today. He plays with a reckless abandon and exuberance that resonates with fans. And despite being a sniper he still plays an intense physical game. He’s even funny! There’s nothing to dislike about him.

Sidney Crosby is a more polarizing figure. He is intensely hated by many. He was hated seemingly before he even entered the NHL. I supposed that’s a product of the Canadian hype machine that proclaimed him the next Gretzky before he was 16. Now he’s called a whiner, a cry-baby, soft, over-rated, and robotic. Worst of all, he grows atrocious facial hair. When your beard growing abilities are worse than the rat’s nest on Ovechkin’s face then you are truly in trouble. There are even whispers that Crosby can no longer be compared with Ovechkin. His critics argue Ovechkin has surpassed him by miles.

Monday, January 11, 2010


brian burke mlse greedy
When you don’t start work until noon you get to enjoy a leisurely morning. Sleeping in on Monday is great. It also gives me a chance to actually read the newspaper, rather than blaze through breakfast while casually skimming boxscores. So, with my excess time today I actually read some of the newspaper. Well, the sports section because proroguing parliament doesn’t hold my interest like a good Leafs talk does (total philistine here). Two articles caught my attention and both primarily concerned MLSE’s greed and its consequences.

In the comments section of both articles (because I read the newspaper online for this specific reason) there were copious amounts of fans complaining about the Leafs lack of success and how they shouldn’t pay to see a shitty product on the ice. The solution that many fans suggest is boycotting the team. They point to the perception that MLSE is only concerned with making money. I agree that MLSE is gluttonous in their quest for money, but I no longer think this is at the expense of the Leafs.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

I Love You, McCabe

bryan mccabe handlebar moustache
I’m a hater. Big time. It’s already well documented in the brief history of this website. I also hate pickles, incorrect use of there/their/they’re, and tennis. I do not hate Bryan McCabe. Neither should you. Booing McCabe’s returns to Toronto is ignorant.

Here’s a man who did everything he possibly could have as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs and is now hated unconditionally. Cheering the return of Darcy Tucker, while simultaneously condemning McCabe’s is hypocritical.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Mad Mike Milbury: The Worst GM in NHL History

mike milbury stupid shoe beat
As you may know, I love CBC’s coverage of hockey every Saturday night. The one aspect of the show that needs to be changed is Mike Milbury’s presence. I understand they have him there to say stupid things and create fodder for the rest of the pundits, but enough. This man is colossally stupid. Even worse, when Al Strachan is on the hot stove, it’s like watching two infants debate the feasibility of time-travel. There’s a reason Milbury beat a man with his loafers, he’s certifiably bat-shit crazy.

First, how a man can ever get a job speaking to millions after going into the crowd during a game and beating a man with his shoe is beyond me. Amazingly, that isn’t even how he acquired the nickname “Mad Mike”. Yes, beating someone with their own shoe isn’t the craziest thing this man has done.
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