The Leafs chat with Mark Zwolinski will start at 2 p.m. instead of noon but get your questions in now so we can hit the ground running.
by edtsportsedit 10/8/2013 3:41:55 PM
hello - getting teed up here. Just got back from morning skate, leafs-avs, and it was a circus. Patrick Roy, Nathan MacKinnon, the Leafs 3-0 start, and Toronto's league leading turnover rate, made for a zany morning. More than 30 media types in a scrum at once - they did Roy's presser out in the hall and players coming off the ice couldn't make it by, there were so many of us swarming Roy. And Roy was great; his responses were very professional and funny at the same time. Rosie DiManno will have a column on it, and it will be worth a look. But it is always a site to behold, the attention hockey gets in this city - more media than players in both dressing rooms
by Mark Zwolinski 10/8/2013 5:59:46 PM
Hello Rich M - you are bang on, and I think you are going to see a lot more of Bernier over Reimer this week. Three western conference teams are in line - Avs, Preds, Oil - and Bernier has an edge over Reimer simply by having more exposure to western teams through the Kings the past several seasons. We think Bernier gets the nod on the road Thursday in Nashville, given his 7-1-0 record against them, with a 1.88 GAA and .932 save percentage. But your comfort level point is well taken - I think Bernier will begin putting distance between himself and Reimer in terms of the N0.1 assignment - it's happening already - and that's no shot at Reimer, it's just the way things are developing
by Mark Zwolinski 10/8/2013 6:02:40 PM
as you probably saw, no Jay McLement on the ice at the morning skate today - he's about to become a proud papa, if it hasn't happened already. His wife went into labor at 3 this morning, so it's been a special time for him. Amazingly, if all goes well, he could even be at the game tonight, but not sure he will play.
by Mark Zwolinski 10/8/2013 6:04:24 PM
we spoke of turnovers by the Leafs, and this is the one big concern that will be played out tonight and moving forward. Leafs lead NHL with 50 to's - they committed 33 vs Ottawa the other night. That's gotta stop, and right now. Players are somewhat confused because they say it's not a case of them trying to do too much - it's just bad execution on passes out of their own zone, and that's something that shouldn't be happening. Anyways, this will be a red button issue for the time being - Leafs led the league with 554 to's last year; they can't afford to be that team again
by Mark Zwolinski 10/8/2013 6:06:41 PM
you may have also heard some rumors about Jake Gardiner, and the supposed discontent in the coaching staff - namely carlyle - with his inconsistent play so far. There was even mention that the Leafs are shopping him, which would give Morgan Rielly a clear path to a full NHL season here. I'm not neccessarily in support of any of it, but it is intriguing. Gardiner would have a high return value, but the question is, do you give up on him so quickly; and the answer is very likely no. Assistant GM Claude Loiselle was on radio early today saying the Leafs have not offered Gardiner to anyone
by Mark Zwolinski 10/8/2013 6:09:26 PM
Sooner or later they have to get to work on a Gardiner contract if they intend on keeping him; and I have one theory about the situation: see the so-called "bridge" contract with Suban, Price, and Kadri, for reference as to what may happen with Gardiner.
by Mark Zwolinski 10/8/2013 6:10:46 PM
One thing about Gardiner, and its about his skating - we all know how fabulous a skater he is, probably the best on D, and maybe the most versatile skater on the team. Gardiner was with Lupul and a few others prior to camp, working on edges with skating coach Barb Underhill. The players were asked to do a drill where they were manouevering back and forth between hockey sticks. It required forwards and backwards skating in a rapid flow. Underhill had pointers for every player, but when she saw Gardiner, she acknowledged she wouldn't teach it that way, but she couldn't change anything - Gardiner was so quick and smooth, she just said I have nothing to add, so lets move on
by Mark Zwolinski 10/8/2013 6:13:14 PM
The ice is a factor and you have a good insight into some of the things that make the game harder than what it needs to be (and into something that generally isn't mentioned in reporting on turnovers) - indeed it was sloppy, but it has to be a combination of a lot of things, ice, and just bad execution; 33 turnovers is a landslide, way to much - but ice is a factor; I haven't seen the reports on ice conditions, but I'll bet they are below expectations on most NHL rinks. The ACC was in the top 5 I think a couple of years ago, and I know the ice crew there works extremely hard on it. But bad ice is reality for any rink like the ACC, where there are multiple tennants
by Mark Zwolinski 10/8/2013 6:16:23 PM
Definitely no need to panic on gardiner or anything leafs right now. Gardiner has too much talent to trade away, but then again, in the right deal, anyone is moveable. Having said that, you have to think long and hard about where and how you'd replace a kid like that, with all the skills he brings to the table. And the goalie controversy is anything but - yes, you can say it's unfair to Reimer, but this is business time in Leafland - the club thinks it has a very real chance to finish in the top 4 in its divison, and even the top 2 if they get the goaltending. Both Bernier and Reimer are capable of a No. 1 level performance, so that's a good thing, and something that will be interesting to watch as the season move forward
by Mark Zwolinski 10/8/2013 6:19:19 PM
not sure how many of you are nathan mackinnon fans, or have seen him play much - but dang, he's tremendous. I've seen Eric Lindros play at 14 and to this day, I think he could have played in the NHL at that age, and he's the only player I'd ever say that about. MacKinnon is special though, an incredible talent, and for the most part, unspoiled by the pressure and business end of it so far. And it's a good thing he has Patrick Roy as a coach - every player we talked to in the Avs room this morning offered praise for Roy, and much of it wasn't solicited. I was impressed with that, and at the ease with which Roy goes into the room. Matt Duchesne said he sometimes eats with the players, kicks his feet up, and just hangs out with them - and the players think its great; few coaches can cross that line as freely as Roy
by Mark Zwolinski 10/8/2013 6:23:37 PM
If I was to trade Gardiner, I'd be looking for either a high first round pick, or a veteran forward with size and skill and scoring. Right now, the Leafs have one proven 30 goal guy - Kessel. If you can get several more over 25 and two or three 30 goal threats, you are in serious business. But this is asking for a lot. Yes, you are giving up a lot for Gardiner, but you'd need a lot in return to even scratch at a conversation. I think the draft pick would be the most likely return, if a trade was being discussed
by Mark Zwolinski 10/8/2013 6:26:15 PM