Monday, January 13, 2014

We get letters...

Subject: Numbers Geek Go Away 
From: Gus Tserotas
To: James Mirtle

Any chance you could jump off a bridge and spare us your never-ending, totally boring, totally useless numbers crap?

Aside from some other numbers-geeks in the media, do you really think anyone who is a real hockey fan gives a damn about your fraudulent numbers?

First of all, even if the formulas you are using are sound, the data you are inputting is completely fraudulent. There is a HUGE variance of stat interpretation throughout the NHL, to the point of being a joke.

Just recently Joe Bowen gave three or four examples of how incredibly inaccurate these numbers coming in are. We watched a Leaf/St. Louis game filled with giveaways only to learn the stats guy in that town could only account for 1 giveaway the entire game. One NHL team is at the top of the list in takeaways at home, and near the bottom on the road. Yeah, sure.

Aside from the fact that your never-ending numbers tweets and columns are totally boring for anyone not in the geek family, they are also complete after-the-fact, Monday morning quarterback, piles of meaningless nonsense. Wins and losses aren't the result of your stupid numbers. Your stupid numbers are the results of wins and losses. Analytics are for people who went to school and learned how to punctuate. Somehow they get a job in some newspaper's sports department because they don't mind working for a laughable salary. A suddenly they are hockey experts?

If your laughable theories were as good at predicting outcomes in advance as you constantly tell everyone they are, why aren't you down in Las Vegas making tons of money off your inside knowledge? In fact, why have a NHL season at all? Why don't you just tell us right now who will win it all?

I look forward to your answer on that, so I can invest my time watching something else.

Your analytic tweets are soooooo boring, and your non-analytic tweets are juvenile. I laughed so hard at your proof that you "didn't make up the Kadri and Gardner trade talks." So I checked out your proof.....Bob Mackenzie says he "thinks the Leafs might do a trade." Oh well then, if Bob thinks they might, the deal can only be hours away.

If your punctuation degree prevents you from knowing the game of hockey by simply watching it, can you spare us your "throw enough crap at the wall and some of it will stick" approach to reporting?

Tweeting fraudulent numbers all day long makes you a fraud as well. 

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

2013-14 NHL teams by height, weight and age

The usual annual stats compilation. These are based on opening night rosters.

I'll likely have more analysis on globesports.com at some point, too.

Teams Height Hrank Weight Wrank Age Arank
1 Anaheim 73.2 20 204.4 13 27.4 20
2 Boston 73.6 6 202.7 17 28.4 7
3 Buffalo 73.6 6 200.2 27 26.3 29
4 Calgary 72.7 28 199.9 28 27.8 13
5 Carolina 73.0 24 205.1 10 26.9 26
6 Chicago 73.4 13 203.0 16 28.2 8
7 Colorado 73.2 20 204.1 14 27.6 17
8 Columbus 73.3 16 206.2 7 26.3 29
9 Dallas 73.1 22 201.6 23 28.6 5
10 Detroit 72.9 26 202.0 20 29.5 2
11 Edmonton 73.4 13 203.6 15 27.8 13
12 Florida 73.6 6 200.3 26 28.9 3
13 Los Angeles 73.8 5 209.8 1 27.6 17
14 Minnesota 72.8 27 199.8 29 27.6 17
15 Montreal 72.2 30 201.7 22 28.1 9
16 Nashville 73.3 16 202.6 18 27.1 23
17 New Jersey 73.3 16 204.6 12 30.3 1
18 NY Islanders 73.0 24 199.3 30 27.1 23
19 NY Rangers 73.4 13 201.8 21 27.7 15
20 Ottawa 73.6 6 205.2 9 27.2 21
21 Philadelphia 73.5 10 201.3 24 28.1 9
22 Phoenix 73.9 4 206.8 6 28.1 9
23 Pittsburgh 73.1 22 202.1 19 28.9 3
24 San Jose 73.3 16 205.8 8 28.5 6
25 St. Louis 72.7 28 208.5 2 27.1 23
26 Tampa Bay 74.2 1 207.4 4 27.7 15
27 Toronto 74.0 2 205.1 10 26.7 27
28 Vancouver 73.5 10 201.2 25 27.9 12
29 Washington 73.5 10 207.7 3 27.2 21
30 Winnipeg 74.0 2 207.2 5 26.5 28
Averages 73.3 203.7 27.8

Monday, September 30, 2013

2013-14 NHL standings predictions

Well, these are always tough.

Doubly so when the league has a realignment that substantially changes how teams will make the playoffs.

But here are my best guesses as to how the NHL standings will shake out this year. Hate mail can be directed to the comments... which are moderated by the way.

Pacific
1 Los Angeles 104 Playoffs!
2 San Jose 99 Playoffs!
3 Vancouver 95 Playoffs!
4 Phoenix 92 Playoffs!
5 Edmonton 92 Playoffs!
6 Anaheim 90
7 Calgary 70
Central
1 St. Louis 100 Playoffs!
2 Chicago 100 Playoffs!
3 Dallas 93 Playoffs!
4 Nashville 91
5 Winnipeg 89
6 Minnesota 87
7 Colorado 85
Atlantic
1 Detroit 104 Playoffs!
2 Ottawa 98 Playoffs!
3 Boston 97 Playoffs!
4 Montreal 96 Playoffs!
5 Toronto 89
6 Tampa Bay 85
7 Florida 81
8 Buffalo 72
Metro
1 Washington 98 Playoffs!
2 Pittsburgh 98 Playoffs!
3 NY Rangers 96 Playoffs!
4 New Jersey 90 Playoffs!
5 NY Islanders 89
6 Philadelphia 87
7 Carolina 87
8 Columbus 83

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

We get letters...

Subject: Wuss
From: dave.mercer@ssq.ca
To: James Mirtle

Go back and play with your Barbie dolls- Watch another sport where you will quit wetting yourself every time there is any action-Do you know how Belak died-really know? Or just conjecture-Rypien was a fighter not an enforcer you worm who sadly had pre-existing mental health issues- and who hasn’t OD on pills and booze accidentally. 

Nobody got hurt and you bonehead bloggers got allot to write up/make up as a result instead of your boring crap. 

Saps like you are just jealous as you have never been in a fight or stood up for what is right-by yourself and most surely and not a man. 

Dave Mercer
  .S

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

2013 NHL Awards picks

Putting together an awards ballot is always difficult, but with only the 48-game sample size, things were made much tougher this year.

How big is a big enough sample size? What do you do with Crosby and other players like Letang who were outstanding but injured for a few weeks?

After a few hours of consideration, here's what I ultimately came up with. Complaints can be directed to Dave Shoalts at The Globe and Mail:


(1) NHL Trophies

HART TROPHY ("to the player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team") 

1. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh
2. Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus
3. Jonathan Toews, Chicago
4. Alex Ovechkin, Washington
5. John Tavares, NY Islanders


NORRIS TROPHY ("to the defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position") 

1. Ryan Suter, Minnesota
2. Kris Letang, Pittsburgh
3. PK Subban, Montreal
4. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Phoenix
5. Dan Hamhuis, Vancouver


CALDER TROPHY ("to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition") 

(Note: An eligible player cannot have played more than 25 NHL games in any single preceding season nor in six or more games in each of any two preceding seasons. A player must not have attained his 26th birthday by Sept. 15 of the season in which he is eligible.)

1. Jonathan Huberdeau, Florida
2. Brandon Saad, Chicago
3. Jonas Brodin, Minnesota
4. Brenden Dillon, Dallas
5. Brendan Gallagher, Montreal 


LADY BYNG TROPHY ("to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability") 

1. Rob Scuderi, Los Angeles
2. Cody Franson, Toronto
3. Frans Nielsen, NY Islanders
4. Joe Pavelski, San Jose
5. Kris Letang, Pittsburgh


SELKE TROPHY ("to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game") 

1. Patrice Bergeron, Boston.
2. David Backes, St. Louis.
3. Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles.
4. Jonathan Toews, Chicago
5. Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit


(2) NHL All-Star Team

CENTER -- Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh. Jonathan Toews, Chicago. John Tavares, NY Islanders.

RIGHT WING -- Alex Ovechkin, Washington. Phil Kessel, Toronto. Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay.

LEFT WING -- Taylor Hall, Edmonton. Andrew Ladd, Winnipeg. Zach Parise, Minnesota.

DEFENSE -- Ryan Suter, Minnesota. Kris Letang, Pittsburgh. Dan Hamhuis, Vancouver.  Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Phoenix. PK Subban, Montreal. Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis.

GOALTENDER -- Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus. Henrik Lundqvist, NY Rangers. Jimmy Howard, Detroit.


(3) NHL All-Rookie Team

FORWARD -- Jonathan Huberdeau, Florida. Brandon Saad, Chicago. Brendan Gallagher, Montreal.

DEFENSE -- Brenden Dillon, Dallas.  Jonas Brodin, Minnesota. 

GOAL -- Jacob Markstrom, Florida. 

Monday, April 08, 2013

No, I'm not a Leafs fan

















Where to begin. 

Well, let's just say that the last thing on my mind when I set out to try and write about hockey for a living was being accused of being a fan or a homer or any of these various things. 

Let alone - as a guy from small town B.C. - a Leafs fan. 

But, here we are, what feels like a lifetime later, with Twitter allowing instant feedback on anything and everything you write and you end up getting the same nonsense again and again. 

I think part of it is just that the audience on social media is so young right now, and there's not an appreciation for the objective viewpoint that someone like Eric Duhatschek can bring on a team he has covered for decades like the Flames. 

Look at it from my perspective, though. For me, when I first thought about trying to do something as crazy as being a hockey writer - which I wasn't really sure was even possible, in the beginning - I tried to be realistic and set my expectations relatively low. 

Writing about hockey, any hockey, anywhere, sounded pretty good. 

Maybe I'd cover a junior team and ride on the bus from town to town? (After all, most of the sportswriting I grew up reading was the local beat guy in the Kamloops Daily News, the lifeline to the WHL team for anyone in the city.)  

Maybe I could go to the U.S. somewhere and cover the minor leagues? Or the next NHL expansion team in Kansas City? 

Maybe I'd just work my way up from there? 

<>

When you get to journalism school, you quickly realize that only a small fraction of graduates actually get work in the field, and becoming a sports-only writer seems like a bit of a pipe dream. You learn about how few papers there actually are across the country and how few writers are ever hired to cover anything, let alone with a focus on "fun" beats like hockey or movies or fashion or whatever. 

There were really only maybe a dozen English language papers covering the NHL for a long time in this country (the Jets have since added a couple more in Winnipeg) and each only has a few writers in its stable. 

Getting into that group of 40 or 45 guys seemed like such a remote possibility that, like most people, I was trying just to land any job coming out of school. That meant spending most of my time either interning or at the student paper trying to cover as many things as possible, even if writing about hockey was the goal. 

Without question, at that point, I would have taken any hockey-related job, anywhere, and I applied to dozens of different cities hoping to do so. 

Ultimately, the first place I was actually a sort of beat guy was in Bonnyville, Alberta, a thankless summer job that led me (with help from the world's most supportive mother) to buy a beat up K-car in Kamloops for $1,000, drive 12 hours straight and cover the Junior A team's off-season and training camp for a few months. 

After that, going to Columbus was hardly going to scare me off. 

Or anywhere else. 

It's funny (and obviously very fortunate) how it all worked out, as I was hired at The Globe as a part-time writer/editor working in both the news and sports departments, a four-to-midnight job that gave me a lot of spare time to work on this blog (and later for SB Nation) during the day. 

Over the years, the paper would hire more senior people for sportswriting jobs in Vancouver and Montreal, leading up to when the Leafs job came open about four years ago when Tim Wharnsby was hired by CBC. 

Any of those three gigs would have been dream jobs, obviously. 

A step up from Bonnyville, anyway. 

That it worked out to be Toronto was really a matter of timing more than anything, as by that point, I had enough experience (and was getting attention from elsewhere) that I was a much better candidate than previously. 

And what team I rooted for was obviously never one of the questions asked in the job interview. 

<>

That's probably a good thing, too, because that would have been a complicated one to answer. 

Other than the Blazers, at one point, it was actually the Sabres, as I wore this ratty old Buffalo hat for a few years and put up a Darren Puppa poster in my room during his brief heyday. (Yes, he had a heyday.)  

Before that, it was the Devils in the Sean Burke era, although I couldn't really tell you why. 

After that point, it was just easiest to join my old man and be a woebegone Canucks fan, as by far, they had the greatest number of games being televised once Hockey Night in Canada started having double headers every week beginning in 1995.  

That we could drive a few hours and go to an affordable NHL game didn't hurt, either, and when Vancouver began making the playoffs after an ugly four-year drought, we began going down for those games. 

(We paid what seemed like an ungodly sum of $185 each for single tickets scattered around the arena for one game of that particularly awful Canucks-Wild second round series.) 

But the thing was I was always happy to be able to watch as many teams as possible. The playoffs were always the best time of year, with game after game televised, beginning at 4 p.m. Pacific Time and stretching into late night overtimes, meaning there was a solid seven or eight hours of hockey every night. 

No matter who was playing (or winning), that was heaven. 

<>

So I think the most accurate thing to say is that I was always just a fan of the NHL and the game, going way back to when we were collecting stacks of beat up hockey cards and playing games with them at recess. 

As a kid in a small town in what felt like the middle of nowhere, it always seemed as though the NHL was this amazing faraway fantasy world, a league where the best of the Blazers would graduate to and get their faces on their own cards for us to collect. 

One day Mark Recchi was right in front of us, in the frigid, 2,000-seat barn where they always won, a local kid scoring goals and having his name announced overhead. 

The next he was playing with Mario Lemieux. 

Some of the other kids were reading comic books by that point, but these were the superheroes for my group of friends, and we'd play street hockey while pretending to be the most obscure-but-good players we could think of. 

"I'm Todd Elik! I'm Russ Courtnall! Here comes Patrik Sundstrom!" 

Just like in the NHL, there'd be a random hero every game. 

<>

It never seemed to matter what team you cheered for. That was just fluid, changing by the day, depending on the players, the rivalries and what was at stake in the games going on inside on TV and in the backyard. 

In some strange way, the small-market, underdog teams were always more fascinating than the favourites, too. 

Maybe that's not how most hockey fans grew up. But I think when you live in a true junior hockey city, there's a lot more of that than people think, with the local team being everyone's obvious "favourite" and the big leagues an entirely different animal that you can watch on Saturday nights on TV. 

Even among the kids that did have an NHL team, it was usually a wide spread who they went with, with the Red Wings, Oilers and Penguins earning a lot of converts at the expense of the Canucks simply because of their success. 

So, now, all these years later, when you're getting these insults from fans over being biased for certain teams over others, they seem pretty darn silly. None of the reporters I know well on the beat are ever rooting for more than the chance to write a good story, to do the job properly and give their readers (and their boss) something worthwhile. 

Many would have a similar reaction to the Leafs winning the Stanley Cup tomorrow as if the Blue Jackets did. 

Now, sure, those lines may be more blurred for those working more closely with the league or teams, but hockey writers in general aren't "fans." Many, like me, are from other cities, or have favourite teams in other sports, or any number of different outlets. 

Others who did grow up rooting for the team they now cover have long since left that behind, in part because once you walk around behind the curtain for a while, being a fan makes less and less sense. 

(This is an aside, but if we're really going to talk about bias and the media, tie it to those who are too indebted to their sources and trading favourable coverage for information. Not fandom.)  

<>

In any event, this is all just a really long-winded way of saying, "no, I'm not a Leafs fan." In fact, I don't really have a favourite team at all, and I haven't for a long time. 

I'm just glad there are games on every night, and I get to watch and write about them as part of what I do.


Saturday, January 19, 2013

2013 NHL standings and trophies predictions

Eastern Conference
1 NYR
2 BOS
3 WSH
4 PIT
5 BUF
6 CAR
7 PHI
8 NJD
9 MTL
10 TB
11 OTT
12 TOR
13 WPG
14 FLA
15 NYI


Western Conference
1 LAK
2 DET
3 VAN
4 STL
5 CHI
6 SJ
7 COL
8 ANA
9 PHX
10 NSH
11 CGY
12 MIN
13 EDM
14 DAL
15 CBJ

Hart: Evgeni Malkin  
Art Ross: Claude Giroux
Richard: Evgeni Malkin
Vezina: Henrik Lundqvist
Calder: Mikael Granlund
Norris: Alex Pietrangelo
Selke: David Backes
Jack Adams: Kirk Muller

Stanley Cup: St. Louis
Eastern finalist: Pittsburgh
Conn Smythe: Jaroslav Halak

Friday, January 18, 2013

2013 NHL teams by weight, height and age

Based on data from teams' opening rosters on Jan. 18 


Weight Height Age
Wrank Hrank Arank
Anaheim 203.3 73.1 27.6
17 18 22
Boston 200.0 72.9 28.5
26 21 11
Buffalo 203.1 73.3 27.7
19 13 19
Calgary 195.5 72.8 28.3
30 23 14
Carolina 200.5 73.1 27.3
24 18 26
Chicago 203.0 72.3 27.7
20 29 19
Colorado 205.9 73.1 27.8
8 18 16
Columbus 204.5 73.3 26.9
12 13 30
Dallas 197.2 72.4 28.8
29 28 5
Detroit 201.2 72.6 29.6
22 26 3
Edmonton 203.8 73.5 27.6
16 8 22
Florida 201.2 73.5 29.7
22 8 1
Los Angeles 209.7 73.3 27.3
2 13 26
Minnesota 199.7 72.7 27.5
27 24 25
Montreal 197.3 72.1 27.8
28 30 16
Nashville 205.4 73.3 28.2
10 13 15
New Jersey 204.5 72.9 29.7
12 21 1
NY Islanders 200.3 72.7 28.7
25 24 8
NY Rangers 206.1 73.7 28.6
7 6 10
Ottawa 206.8 73.9 27.6
5 3 22
Philadelphia 202.7 73.8 27.8
21 5 16
Phoenix 204.2 73.4 28.8
14 11 5
Pittsburgh 203.3 73.3 28.5
17 13 11
San Jose 210.7 74.0 28.7
1 1 8
St. Louis 205.8 72.6 27.7
9 26 19
Tampa Bay 206.2 73.7 28.8
6 6 5
Toronto 204.8 73.5 27.3
11 8 26
Vancouver 204.0 73.4 28.9
15 11 4
Washington 208.0 73.9 28.4
3 3 13
Winnipeg 207.3 74.0 27.3
4 1 26
Average 203.5 73.2 28.2



Monday, August 13, 2012

My stories from the 2012 Olympics

Olympic Stadium: Where I lived

Incredibly nice to be home. On the couch. Half asleep.

Normally when I travel for work, the trips all all quick hops - five days here, five days there, in and out to New York or Philadelphia or wherever for a hockey game or three. 

The Olympics? Wow. 

A little more than three weeks away in a different country, one I had never been to before, and where you're working every single day. (Some days for 14 or more hours a day.)

Great assignment. Tough assignment. 

Here's a collection of some of the stories I wrote over there, as much for my benefit for looking back on as anything. I mostly only covered track and field, kayak and canoe, rowing and a little volleyball and weightlifting.

I don't plan on updating this blog very often, but this seemed like a find place to store a few of these links (my favourites are in bold):

Previews: Pundits project Canada to win 17 to 22 medals
Previews: Can Canadian rowers continue to set the pace?
Previews: 10 Canadian Olympians to follow on Twitter
Day 1: The biggest names among the 2012 flag bearers
Day 2: Royal watching is an unofficial sport
Day 3: Women’s eight crew makes a statement
Day 4: The long road Canada’s beach volleyballers took to the Games
Day 5: Christine Girard ends women's weightlifting podium jinx
Day 6: Atmosphere, setting and skin: Beach volleyball one hot ticket
Day 7: High hopes rest on huge shoulders of Dylan Armstrong
Day 7: How a Soviet hammer champ pushed Armstrong to the top
Day 7: How Own the Podium changed everything for Canada
Day 8: Armstrong falls short of podium in men’s Olympic shot put
Day 9: Even without podium, shot put on map thanks to Armstrong
Day 9: Canada’s Jessica Zelinka misses the podium in heptathlon
Day 10: Oldershaw moving out of van Koeverden’s shadow
Day 10: Will this be Adam Van Koeverden’s last paddle?
Day 10: Canadian Justyn Warner bows out in 100-metre semis
Day 11: Even without a win, Pistorius makes real impact
Day 11: Three Canadians through in 100-metre women's hurdles
Day 12: Kayaking siblings compete with dad in mind
Day 13: Canada’s Mark Oldershaw wins canoe bronze
Day 14: Damian Warner finishes fifth in Olympic decathlon
Day 15: Canadian men’s 4x100 relay is running for respect
Day 16: Canadian men's relay team goes from bronze to heartache
Day 17: The stories behind the 18 Canadian Olympic medals
Looking back: There's no shame in celebrating bronze

Thanks to those who followed along during my time in London. I'm now off for a few weeks in order to get ready for an NHL season that may not even exist.

Have a great August.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

My new home: On Facebook

For the kind, lost souls that are still coming here...

I've got one of those Facebook pages that all the kids are talking about, and updating it seems to be a breeze. For now the plan will be to post any new articles I'm working on both there and Twitter, at least until I set up a new website that can do something similar.

I'd like to get back to blogging on a far more regular basis, probably at The Globe's website, and that might be something we look at figuring out for next fall. This year was a big adjustment just in terms of just switching over to the paper side of things and the travel involved, but hopefully will get back to some bloggy content as well.


UPDATE Here's the new address for the Facebook page: facebook.com/JamesMirtle. Plan is to keep it updated pretty regularly, with an eye to creating something like what journalist Nicholas Kristof has built here (obviously on a much smaller scale).   

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Where you can find my writing

Just a very brief history of where my archived material is:

December, 2004, to October, 2008: Blogger
October, 2008, to January, 2010: From The Rink
October, 2009, to present: The Globe and Mail

I've also started posting links to my writing on both Twitter and Facebook regularly, but don't currently have a set website where original material appears. That may come in the future.
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Thursday, April 08, 2010

Who has Hart this season?


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Monday, March 29, 2010

NHL statement on latest Winnipeg rumours

Bill Daly, Deputy Commissioner of the National Hockey League, today released the following statement:

"In response to the many inquiries we have received in light of the story in the Phoenix Business Journal this morning, we would like to make clear that at this point in time the National Hockey League has no "deal" in place to move the Coyotes' franchise to Winnipeg -- or to any other city for that matter -- in the event a transaction cannot be timely consummated in Glendale. Our focus continues to be on completing a transaction with local ownership that is committed to operating the team in Glendale. Based on the communications and information we are receiving on a regular basis, the stakeholders involved continue to express a high level of confidence that that can be successfully achieved. We will not focus on completing arrangements for one or more alternative option(s) until such time as it may become necessary.

"With respect to Winnipeg and Messrs. Chipman and Thomson, we have had ongoing discussions over time regarding their potential interest in owning an NHL franchise (as we have had with a number of other individuals and cities around North America) and potentially bringing an NHL franchise back to Winnipeg. It remains an intriguing possibility and one we would consider given appropriate circumstances, but there is nothing new to report on that front at this time."
>> league release

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

McGinn's wild ride: 14 callups, 14 demotions

There's no end-of-season award in the NHL for most air miles accrued, but if there was, San Jose Sharks winger Jamie McGinn would win in a landslide.

In only his second NHL season, McGinn has skated in 44 games, missing 22 while in the minors with the American Hockey League's Worcester Sharks. Along the way he's been demoted and recalled a stunning and league-leading 14 times, making for more cross-country flights between California and Massachusetts than he can recall.
And I have more on this story at Globe on Hockey.
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Friday, March 12, 2010

Roberts helps Stamkos's rise

It ultimately came in a losing cause, but it was Stamkos who snapped home the game’s first goal and later added an assist, showcasing his impressive new-found physique and earning the game’s second star.

The problem was – as has been the case on too many nights this season with Tampa – Stamkos’s teammates let him down. And the Leafs own young sniper, Phil Kessel, capped a wild overtime with his 23rd goal of the season to give Toronto a 4-3 win.

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Assistant GM Jeff Jackson on leaving the Leafs

“Coming back to the Leafs, four years ago, was pretty cool,” Jackson said. “It was an honour to be drafted by them, it was great to work for them. It’s one of the toughest sports markets in the world, so it was kind of a baptism by fire on the management side.

“In a lot of respects, it’s been a rough four years because of the inability to have success. I was hoping I’d be part of a winning team here because when it happens, it’s going to be a great place to be. So, it is a hard thing to be leaving, but it’s just the right time.”

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Meet the Caputis

A barber with a salon just north of Toronto, Caputi grew up in the city, cutting his son’s hair and coaching his hockey teams. What he never dreamed of was watching Luca, now 21, skate with the Toronto Maple Leafs – the NHL team both had cheered for their entire lives.

As diehard a fan as they come, Caputi said he still thinks about the Leafs’ playoff run, 17 years ago, and that fateful missed high-sticking call on Los Angeles Kings star Wayne Gretzky. “We bleed blue,” he said.

Last night, Luca Caputi gave his father another Leafs memory – one his old man will likely be recalling the rest of his years.

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Monday, March 08, 2010

Players still split on headshot rule

Most players around the league said Monday they want to see hits like the one Penguins winger Matt Cooke laid on Savard penalized – and even suspended. But beyond that, there's little consensus on what, if any, rule changes are needed to prevent similar checks.

Some say all hits to the head should be outlawed. Others scream sacrilege at the thought.

Another group altogether attempts to avoid saying much at all.

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Thursday, March 04, 2010

Burke comments on deadline day

“We turned down two picks for Poni because we liked the prospect better,” Burke said. “A prospect is farther along the food chain, as far as development. This is a guy who’s a second-year pro, has played in the NHL, a guy we really liked in junior, a guy we really like as a pro – that to me has far greater value than a draft pick that I’m not going to see for three years, if I ever see him at all.

“You can see with the Kessel deal, we are not interested in a five-year rebuilding plan. We’re trying to improve this team on a much more rapid time frame. You saw in Anaheim that it didn’t take five years. That’s what we’re trying to do here.”

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Monday, March 01, 2010

Trade deadline: Six sellers to be busy

With parity ensuring that all but the bottom feeders are still in the playoff hunt with 20 games to go, it's been the six teams in the league's basement - the Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Carolina Hurricanes, New York Islanders, Florida Panthers and Columbus Blue Jackets - getting most of the attention as teams gear up for the 3 p.m. EST trade deadline on Wednesday.

"Since about Thursday or Friday, there've been quite a few calls," Columbus GM Scott Howson said yesterday.

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