Throwback Thursday: This week in 2002, Ed Belfour makes Maple Leafs debut recording a shutout

Welcome back to another edition of Throwback Thursday! 

This week in 2002 (Oct. 10), Ed Belfour made his debut with the Toronto Maple Leafs recording a shutout.
He had signed with the Leafs the July prior and was looking to rebound after a brutal season with the Dallas Stars — and that’s exactly what he did. He got off to a hot start in that first game as he stopped 33 shots en route to shutting out the Pittsburgh Penguins.
While he had a “rough” October recording a .909 save percentage, he blew the doors off the rest of the year. Playing in 62 games, he posted a 37-20-5 record with a .922 save percentage.
Over those three years in Toronto, he put up the best numbers of his career. He posted a 93-61-15 record and a .912 save percentage.
Belfour spent two more years in Toronto, before playing one season in Flordia prior to retiring.
On Twitter: @zjlaing
 

Read More

Author: Zach Laing / The Leafs Nation

Throwback Thursday: This week in 2018, John Tavares scores first hat trick with Toronto Maple Leafs

Welcome back to another edition of Throwback Thursday!

This week in 2018 (Oct. 7), John Tavares scored his first hat trick as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Leafs squared up with Chicago that night in what ended up being a 7-6 barn burner.
Four goals were scored in the first frame that night with Jonathan Toews and Alex DeBrincat scoring the first two goals of the game. Toronto bounced back as Kasperi Kapanen and Auston Matthews scored before the frame ended.
In the second, it was the Tavares show. At the 3:56 mark he scored an even-strength goal before potting a powerplay tally five minutes later at the 7:37 mark.
His third goal of the game came in the third period scoring at the 9:29 mark. His third tally, seen in a Mike Commito gif below, was a snipe from the left faceoff circle.
On Twitter: @zjlaing

On this day in 2018, John Tavares recorded his first hat trick as a member of the Maple Leafs #Hockey365 #LeafsForever pic.twitter.com/GeZ6t8mBiU
— Mike Commito (@mikecommito) October 7, 2020

 

Read More

Author: Zach Laing / The Leafs Nation

Page 6ix Wednesday, October 7th: Free Agent Frenzy And More

Hello, gossip/drama lovers. Welcome to yet another busy week in the world of hockey soap operas. As the draft approached and free agency drew nearer, there seemed to be a ton of drama dust kicked up. Let’s take a look, shall we?
Leafs Land
This week was a relatively quiet one in the world of the Leafs, save for the draft. As you likely know, with their first round pick (acquired in the Kasperi Kapanen trade), the Leafs drafted 19 year old Russian winger, Rodion Amirov. (I was pulling for the first round goalie, but this adorable kitten-saving Russian will do.) This choice predictably divided Leafs nation, but the details of that division are best saved for another post.
However, there was some fun to be had, as beloved Maple Leafs Mitch Marner and Morgan Rielly were on hand to announce the pick, and Mo was rocking quite the magical mustache.

pic.twitter.com/IbB3QyDCbh
— Jacqueline Taylor (@jxcquelineoh) October 7, 2020

Could the inclusion of these two players signal a deeper message, perhaps about the loyalty the front office feels to them, with constant chatter about who might be traded? And where was captain John Tavares?
Free Agency Fun
Elsewhere, …

Read More

Author: MerOutLoud / The Leafs Nation

Throwback Thursday: This week in 1997, Toronto Maple Leafs make Mats Sundin first European captain in franchise history

Welcome back to another edition of Throwback Thursday!

This week in 1997 (Sept. 30), the Toronto Maple Leafs made Mats Sundin their first European captain and the 16th in franchise history.
Sundin, who becomes captain of a franchise whose previous owner, Harold Ballard, tried to prevent the Soviets from playing at Maple Leaf Gardens, was asked yesterday whether the appointment will bring added pressure.
“They keep saying that,” Sundin said with a laugh. “Obviously, there’s going to be a lot of things asked from me, not only on the ice but off the ice as well.
“But I like it. I think I perform better under pressure.” – the Ottawa Citizen, Oct. 1, 1997
Sundin, who joined the organization two years prior in the historic Wendel Clark deal with the Quebec Nordiques, held onto the captaincy until he left the Leafs in 2008.
In his first year with the ‘C’ on his chest, he scored 33 goals and 74 points in 82 games for the Leafs. Over the course of his 13 year Leafs career, Sundin scored 420 goals and 987 points in 981 games. In the playoffs, Sundin scored 32 goals and 70 points in 77 games for the Leafs.
On Twitter: @zjlaing
 

Read More

Author: Zach Laing / The Leafs Nation

Throwback Thursday: This week in 2003, Toronto Maple Leafs name John Ferguson Jr. general manager

Welcome back to another edition of Throwback Thursday! 

This week in 2003 (Aug. 29), the Toronto Maple Leafs hired John Ferguson Jr. as the 12th general manager in franchise history.
He inherited a good team from Pat Quinn, but the Leafs took backwards steps every year Ferguson Jr. was managing the team. Despite a first season that saw the Leafs put up 103 points placing second in the Northeast division, the Leafs struggled in the playoffs.
While they beat the Ottawa Senators in seven games in the first round, the Leafs bowed out to the Philadelphia Flyers in the second round in six games.
They narrowly missed the playoffs with a 90 point season in 2005-06 and Ferguson relieved Quinn of his duties behind the bench in favour of Paul Maurice. Ferguson’s third season, 2006-07, saw the Leafs come out with another 91 point season and were a far shot from a highly competitive playoff season.
In his fourth and final year, the Leafs struggled mightily winning 36 of 82 games with an 83 point season. It spelt the end of not only Ferguson in the GM role but Maurice behind the bench too.
Ferguson didn’t make many trades in his time manning …

Read More

Author: Zach Laing / The Leafs Nation

The Blue Jays have acquired Jonathan Villar

And here’s another addition!

According to Ken Rosenthal, the Blue Jays have acquired infielder Jonathan Villar from the Miami Marlins.

Blue Jays get Villar, source tells The Athletic.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) August 31, 2020

This is a very, very nice addition for the Jays, who have a gaping hole at short with Bo Bichette on the Injured List. Villar has a passable glove, but he’s more of an offence-first shortstop. He’s slashing a .272/.328/.360 line this season and leads the league with nine stolen bases. It isn’t incredible, but it’s an upgrade over what the Jays have currently been getting from their back-up infielders.
Villar will be a nice everyday fill-in for the Jays at short until Bichette gets back, and then he can potentially shift over to second base, which would open up Cavan Biggio to play around the diamond. Or, if they want to keep Biggio at second, Villar can also move around the field, as he’s played second, third, left, and centre field during his career. There are plenty of options, which is always ideal.
Heading into the trade deadline, the Jays had a couple of …

Read More

Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

The Blue Jays have acquired Robbie Ray

The Blue Jays have made another addition to their pitching staff.

A few days after acquiring Taijuan Walker from the Seattle Mariners, the Jays have added lefty Robert Ray from the Arizona Diamondbacks. Heading back to Arizona will be Travis Bergen.

#BlueJays acquiring righty Robbie Ray from #Diamondbacks per source. @longleysunsport first
— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) August 31, 2020

Ray has had, uh, a rough season to say the least. Through seven starts, he’s posted a 7.84 ERA due largely to totally losing control of his pitches. Ray is walking 9.0 batters per nine, though his 12.5 strikeouts per nine is something positive.
Back in 2017, Ray enjoyed a breakout season and earned himself a nod to the National League All-Star team. His 2018 and 2019 seasons were somewhat injury-riddled, but Ray still managed to produce a solid 4.17 ERA across 298 innings those two seasons.
This obviously isn’t the top-of-the-rotation Mike Clevenger or Lance Lynn addition we might have been looking for, but Ray has great stuff and is worth a risk as a bounce-back candidate. They didn’t give up much in return, either, so that’s a plus.
Basically, the difference between Ray and Bergen is that the former is stretched …

Read More

Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

RUMOURS: A landing spot for Andersen and the asking price for Nylander

Another week, another 31 Thoughts laced with our Leafs fix. Awww sweet rumours, you’ll make us forget about the fact that most meaningful hockey of the year is being played without the Maple Leafs. Well, that’s not completely true, but we’ll take what we can get.
The Panthers have talked to a ton of people, including: St. Louis assistant GM Bill Armstrong, Montreal scout Sean Burke, former Edmonton GM Peter Chiarelli, Boston executive director of player personnel John Ferguson, former Los Angeles assistant GM Michael Futa, Toronto assistant GM Laurence Gilman, former Philadelphia GM Ron Hextall, former Vancouver GM Mike Gillis, OHL London’s Mark Hunter, Montreal assistant GM Scott Mellanby, NBC’s Ed Olczyk and NHL Network analyst Kevin Weekes.
So Laurence Gilman is very much in the mix, as are former Leafs GM John Ferguson Jr., former AGM Mark Hunter, and if we want to go in the way back machine, former Leafs player Ed Olczyk is in the mix as well. I still can’t help but think Peter Chiarelli getting the job is the best outcome for the Leafs though.
Right now it seems like Mike Gillis could …

Read More

Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Cursed day at The Trop as the Blue Jays lose the game and a pitcher to injury

Another Sunday, another not-so-fun day as the Blue Jays lost a game and a pitcher to injury.

Things worth mentioning…

Trent Thornton got the start on short rest after getting lit up in the second leg of the doubleheader against the Phillies on Thursday. While Thornton’s outing went better than last time — he picked up a couple of strikeouts and allowed a couple of hits — he only lasted one inning. The Rays worked Thornton, making him toss 25 pitches to get through the first and he was pulled from the game with elbow inflammation. Not ideal!

Trent Thornton, who was activated off the Injured List on Thursday after having been on it for two weeks with right elbow inflammation, left today’s game after the first inning with right elbow inflammation. #Bluejays
— Mike Wilner (@Wilnerness590) August 23, 2020

After Thornton, Anthony Kay came in and cruised through three innings. The Blue Jays carried a 2-0 lead into the fifth inning before the Rays finally did their thing. Kay started the bottom of the fifth but allowed a single and a walk. Ryan Borucki then came in to put out the fire, but he got tagged for a couple …

Read More

Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Throwback Thursday: Today in 1973, Toronto Maple Leafs hire Red Kelly as head coach

Welcome back to another edition of Throwback Thursday! 
Today in 1973, the Toronto Maple Leafs hired Red Kelly as the clubs head coach.
Kelly, 46, joined the Leafs six years after he retired from the club as a player. It was a long career as a player for Kelly, who spent 20 years with Detroit and the Leafs.
In Toronto, he scored 119 goals and 351 points in 470 games, a big feat considering he transitioned from a defenceman in Detroit to a center with the Leafs.
The eight-time cup winner had his most successful time as a coach with the Leafs following the previous stint with Pittsburgh and Los Angeles.
Over four seasons, the posted a 133-123-62 record as the Leafs bench boss taking the club into the playoffs each year. Their longest playoff run came in 1976 when they topped the Penguins in the first round before losing to the Flyers in game seven in the second round.
Kelly was fired after the 1977 season-ending a 30-year tenure at ice level in the NHL.
On Twitter: @zjlaing

Read More

Author: Zach Laing / The Leafs Nation