Monday, October 29, 2012

A Rebuild Off the Rails

Steve Sullivan Leafs
Brian Burke's five-year rebuild that wasn't supposed to take five years is taking longer than expected.

The last time the Toronto Maple Leafs rebuilt, it was quick and almost painless. The team missed the playoffs only twice—in 1997 and 1998—but would become a post-season mainstay for the next six years.

But that mid-90s rebuild did not happen in one fell swoop—the three biggest trades actually occurred over a five-year period—and could be better characterized as a slow core replacement, rather than a fire-sale.

After bowing out of back-to-back conference finals, the Leafs began a process of turning their three most important players—Doug Gilmour, Wendel Clark, and Felix Potvin—into what should have been a strong group to build around in the future.

In Wendel Clark's case the return was overwhelming, but the players that came back in other trades were bungled away.

The Leafs still became a perennial contender in the late-90s and early-2000s, largely thanks to successful plunges into free agency, but poor asset management and pure, dumb luck ruined the rest of what should have been an overwhelmingly successful rebuild.

Monday, October 22, 2012

How a New CBA Affects a Roberto Luongo Trade

Roberto Luongo Canucks Leafs
A lockout hasn't stopped the endless Roberto Luongo rumours.

Last week, Sportsnet's John Shannon reported that there is an agreement between Toronto and Vancouver that would send the 33-year-old netminder to the Leafs once the lockout ends. Apparently Brian Burke and Mike Gillis (who both denied Shannon's report) have been in communication for a long time, ever since the Canucks reportedly asked for Tyler Bozak, Jake Gardiner, Matt Frattin, and a first-round pick at June's entry draft. That asking price was obviously a non-starter for the Leafs, but a deal surrounding Bozak is supposedly very much alive.

However, with the owners' latest CBA proposal, which would stick teams who sign a player for more than five years with that player's cap hit upon retirement, there is speculation in some corners that the price just went up.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Choose Your Own Adventure: CBA Negotiations

After hockey fans became briefly optimistic over the owners' surprise proposal, the air was let totally out of the balloon once it was made clear that it wasn't an invitation for negotiation, it was an ultimatum.

We know it wasn't an offer to negotiate because the NHLPA gave three different counter-offers, all of which were flat out rejected. It was basically a Choose Your Own Adventure proposal.

Here's some background information if you are too old and never had the opportunity to read a Choose Your Own Adventure book. Or if you are too young, which would mean they have stopped making them. That would be a true injustice. 

Choose Your Own Adventure books were great. You read a story until the main character had a crucial decision to make. At that point you became the protagonist and you got to choose what adventure to lead. You skipped to a certain page based on the path you chose. Sometimes your decision would lead to a happy ending, while other times it would result in you being eaten by a pride of lions. It wasn't for the faint of heart. Luckily, if you kept your finger on the "decision page" you could easily go back and justify to yourself that you meant to pick "don't open the creepy cellar door". Other times you died either way. It was fun!

It's not well known, but there is actually a Choose Your Own Adventure: CBA Negotiations book. It's your chance to get into the thick of the negotiations and help save the NHL season. Watch out for traps!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Book Review: The Best of Down Goes Brown

Felix Potvin Wayne Gretzky
The exact moment Down Goes Brown decided to use comedy to ease his pain.
Sean McIndoe, better known as Down Goes Brown, runs the funniest blog on the internet.

Of course, he's long since graduated from being simply a blogger. His work has appeared in The National Post and Grantland; TSN often has him live-blog or tweet through an event, such as the rebroadcast of classic international games; and he is a frequent guest on radio and TV spots (including an episode of The Agenda in which he debated concussions with Ken Dryden).

Now he's gone totally mainstream with his newly published book, The Best of Down Goes Brown.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

2012-2013 Fantasy Hockey Sleepers

Picture courtesy of D. Courville, who awards it to the owner in his league who trades the most draft picks.
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I must admit I've had this article written for weeks now. I've been too sad to post it.

That infernal lockout.

Fantasy baseball seasons are over, and usually that means immediately shifting gears and preparing for your hockey draft. But what's the point when you know the lockout is going to last until sometime between 2015 and 2022.

However, the two sides are meeting today (to discuss non-core economic issues), which should give a brief 10 minutes of optimism (which will surely be crushed swiftly).

But in those brief moments, you might think there will be a season this year. If that's the case, here are some players to help you win your fantasy pool.

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