January 11, 2007

Another Year

Long time.

How've you been?

Good? Me too.

Happy New Year.

I can't believe we've reached 2007 already. Time flies.

I haven't checked in for a while. Definitely a busy time of year.

Sports And The City is now coming to you live and direct from the downtown core, for the next four months.

It's the last four months of journalism school at Ryerson. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it's not the train this time.

First of all I have to shout out the Canadian World Junior team that captured another gold medal in Sweden. That's three in a row for the Canadians. We run this game.

It's amazing how much this tournament resonates so heavily amongst the Canadian population. It's a teenage hockey tournament, yet the whole country is watching each and every game. Canadians are obsessed with hockey, and I don't know about you, but I'm proud of it.

It was the third straight outstanding performance by Canada's kids. The juniors are 18-0 in the last three tournaments.

Domination is definitely there.


The Leafs opened 2007 with a bang by spanking the Bruins twice in a row. 5-1 and 10-2. The second game was a complete joke, and if you didn't see it, you probably wouldn't believe who scored. Steen had a hat-trick and five points, Stajan had two goals and two assists and Battaglia scored two goals. Steen had only 10 points coming into the game. Tim Thomas played a really sad game in goal, and the Bruins defense didn't help much either.

But in typical inconsistent Maple Leafs fashion, the Leafs have dropped their last two contests. I felt they deserved a better fate against Buffalo on the weekend, but Raycroft cost them the game, straight up. The fourth Buffalo goal was unacceptable. Raycroft was down way too early and once again his catching glove was by his hip, instead of in the air. It was a momentum-killing goal, as usual, and in the end the Leafs fell one goal short.

Raycroft is really starting to piss me off.

The media is beginning to question the Leafs' goaltending daily now, and the heat is on. One of Raycroft or Aubin need to step up or it's goodbye, playoffs. The Leafs are now on the road in 9 of their next 11 games, so the time is now. This is the most crucial stage of the Leafs season, and will determine whether they play in the spring.

I personally don't think this is a playoff team, so I wouldn't be surprised if the Leafs drop 7 of their next 11. They haven't shown themselves to be a good road team and the goaltending just isn't good enough.

The Carolina/Leafs game on Tuesday night was straight boring. I don't know what it is about Canes/Leafs games at the ACC but they're always a snooze. It seemed like no one gave a damn, and the fans were so quiet.

Speaking of Carolina, I really hate Erik Cole. This guy just gets to me. I was hoping someone on the Leafs would drill him, but it didn't happen.

My mind is getting off track. What I want to see out of Andrew Raycroft is some passion and some poise. I want to see him step up. I want to see him play better. I want to see him get pissed off when the opposition scores. I want him to be more of a leader. The goalie is unique, in that he can take the team on his back and lead them. I want to see Raycroft play with a sense of purpose that he hasn't shown me so far. I want him to prove to me that he's a number one goalie, because I and a lot of other people, sure as hell don't believe that he is. I don't even think his teammates believe that he is.

What else about the Leafs?

- The injury bug strikes again. Ian White is out 3 to 4 weeks with a shoulder separation. And I heard Tucker's foot is actually broken, so he'll be out a little longer, and that Wellwood's injury is more serious than the team is letting on.

- Boyd Devereaux has played well since being recalled from the Marlies. I think he had a four game point streak to start his Leafs career. He seems like he can play in the NHL. The line of Pohl-Devereaux-Battaglia has been solid. They can all control the puck down low really well, especially Battaglia. One of my buddies, Faran, reminds me of Battaglia. Just a pure grinder down low.

- I love John Pohl. He's been fantastic since Peca went down. JFJ, don't resign Peca. Let Pohl play. Play with the Pohl, as my buddy Winson says.

- Kubina finally scored. $5 million = 1 goal.

- Oh yeah, I forgot about Travis Green. He's back. Fresh off the waiver wire. Anaheim's garbage that the Leafs picked up off the curb. He's just like all the other jobbers the Leafs have. His signing meant the return of Erik Westrum to the Marlies. He played about 7 minutes total in three games. With Belak and Ondrus. Unbelievable. Screw Travis Green, and give Westrum a shot with other real hockey players. Ondrus should be sent down, not Westrum.

- Kaberle has been playing kind of poorly the last few games. Paul Maurice has broken up the Kaberle-McCabe combo. Kabby is now playing with his countryman Kubina. I don't mind the combo, maybe it was time to split up the dynamic duo. Hopefully Kabby will adjust, and I'm sure he will, and his play will elevate.

- Will Tucker re-sign with the Leafs? As much as I love Darcy, maybe the Leafs should let him test the free agent market. Scott Gomez and Shane Doan are two guys who will be unrestricted free agents this summer. I would ABSOLUTELY LOVE to see Gomez in Leafs uniform. That would give the Leafs two decent centres, imagine that!

- Matt Stajan is the lamest excuse for a hockey player I have seen in a long time. This guy doesn't deserve to be a Toronto Maple Leaf. I'm utterly sick of him.

- Stay tuned for the Leafs mid-season report card. Well, a week after mid-season report card.

I caught some of the Raptors/Bucks game tonight. The Raps played a banged-up Bucks squad and took it to them. Chuck Swirsky brought out the salami and cheese with about two and a half minutes left in the 4th quarter. It was a 90-77 final.

It was a good win for the Raps, after a poor effort against Vince Carter's New Jersey Nets. The Raps, defying all logic, started last night's game against New Jersey and were down 15-0 five minutes in. They missed their first 12 shots and the starting unit had only something like 20 points. TJ Ford went 0 for 8 from the field. It was a big game too, for the lead in the division, and the starting unit just didn't have it.

It made tonight's game important and the Raps answered the call. Bosh was strong, pouring in 30 points. Ford bounced back from his worst game as a Raptor and registered a double-double against his former team.

The Raps are at 16-20 and are crawling towards a .500 record and respectability. With Bryan Colangelo comes respect. He's like the Godfather, he just illicits respect. The guys he brought over - Garbajosa, Parker, Ford and Bargnani - are all paying huge dividends.

The Andrea Bargnani Rookie Of The Year campaign has officially begun. And deservedly so. This guy has a sweeeeeeeet touch. Got to just love Il Mago.


Another year is upon us. All I hope is that 2007 is a prosperous year for the Leafs, Jays and Raptors. I just want to watch the playoffs in 2007. I don't care which sport it is, or which professional team it is.

As much as I love Leafs playoff hockey, I'll be happy with a Raptors playoff birth. More than happy. Just let me watch meaningful games involving Toronto. It's such a pleasure, and I miss it, I really do.

Good luck Maple Leafs, Raptors and Blue Jays. Make me proud. Make this city proud, once again.

Goodnight, Toronto...