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Zetterberg, Howard injuries tough on Red Wings, but gold for HBO’s 24/7

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By Allan Muir

The timing couldn’t be worse for the struggling Red Wings.

Goalie Jimmy Howard is dinged up. Stephen Weiss is out indefinitely with a groin injury. And leading scorer Henrik Zetterberg, suffering through a herniated disc, has been moved to long-term IR to create roster space for third-string goalie Petr Mrazek, a move that ensures the star forward can return to action no earlier than Dec. 28.

And maybe worst of all: Detroit is coming off back-to-back losses to the lowly Panthers.

MUIR: Howard may miss Winter Classic, Olympics

This exactly isn’t the image the proud Red Wings franchise wanted to showcase on HBO’s 24/7: Road To The Winter Classic. Their star turn on major cable seems like it will be more akin to showing up for picture day with a black eye and couple of missing teeth.

But while Detroit might be stumbling toward its Jan. 1 meeting with the Maple Leafs in Ann Arbor, the injuries could be gold for the producers of 24/7.

“The nature of reality TV is you follow reality,” says Heather Muir, cast producer for The Bachelor Canada and Big Brother Canada (and, for the sake of full disclosure, my wildly successful kid sister).

“You report on events as they reveal themselves,” she says. “I never say something is good or bad until after the experience has occurred, but it is more story to follow.”

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  • Published On Dec 12, 2013
  • SHANABANNED! Dion Phaneuf to sit out two games for boarding Kevan Miller

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    By Allan Muir

    Apparently, roaring in from the hash marks to blast a player between the numbers and drive him headfirst into the boards is still frowned upon by the NHL.

    After reviewing the evidence of Dion Phaneuf’s cheapshot on Boston’s Kevan Miller on Sunday, the Department of Player Safety has suspended Toronto’s captain for a pair of games. He’ll also forfeit more than $66,000 in salary to the Players’ Emergency Relief Fund.

    Interestingly, Brendan Shanahan lays some of the blame on Phaneuf’s teammate, David Clarkson, noting that his slash buckled Miller’s plant leg, contributing to the awkwardness and violence of his contact with the boards. Of course, it wouldn’t have been an issue if Phaneuf laid off when he only saw numbers.

    “The onus is on him to avoid the hit completely, or at least minimize it more than he does,” Shanahan said. “Miller was never eligible to be hit like this in the first place.”

    This is the sort of hit we’ve seen routinely over the years and, more often than not, the player is sore but relatively unscathed from the contact. But it’s also the kind of impact that has the potential to cause serious harm, including concussions and facial or back injuries. There are smarter decisions to be made in this situation, and suspensions like this should help reinforce that point.

    Miller was clearly fouled, but not seriously injured on the play, so two games sends a message of non-tolerance while it leaves the league some room to lay the hammer down the next time this happens and the victim doesn’t bounce up as readily as did Miller.

    CAZENEUVE: NHL rules, The Code, and fighting meeting in dark place


  • Published On Dec 10, 2013
  • Team Canada scouting Maple Leafs, Ducks; Jonathan Bernier their target?

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    By Allan Muir

    Scouts show up in press boxes every night around the NHL, and while guessing why they’re there is a time-honored tradition, it’s hardly news.

    Unless, of course, those scouts are from Team Canada. And they show up in the Center of the Hockey Universe.

    With both Steve Yzerman and Peter Chiarelli set to be at the Air Canada Centre for tonight’s Toronto vs. Anaheim tilt, it’s fair to speculate on who they came to see.

    The Ducks boast two players who will be in the Sochi mix: forwards Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf.

    Getzlaf might be in tough because of Canada’s embarrassment of riches at center, but he
    has 18 goals in 58 points in his last 52 games and brings an imposing presence to the position. Perry is a natural winger and a pure sniper, a quality Yzerman has said he’ll prioritize after Canada’s offense failed to click in Torino.

    The two obviously have great chemistry, something that might enhance their value as a two-fer given the lack of practice time before the Winter Games. Slide someone like Taylor Hall on their left flank and you’d have a quick, dangerous, physically imposing third line that would cause the opposition fits.

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  • Published On Oct 22, 2013
  • Emergency goalie fraternity grows as Maple Leafs sign Canadian collegians

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    Jonathan Bernier took over for injured Toronto Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer, but what happens if Bernier goes down, too?

    Jonathan Bernier took over for injured Leafs goalie James Reimer on Thursday, but what if Bernier goes down?  (Icon SMI)

    By Michael Blinn

    When Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer was injured 0:32 into Thursday’s game against the Hurricanes, Jonathan Bernier took over in the net. While one goalie replacing another is no outstanding occurrence in hockey, Toronto was faced with a dilemma: what happens if Bernier goes down, too?

    Luckily, the Leafs were able to call on a couple of locals in University of Toronto goalies Michael Nishi and Brett Willows. The latter arrived at the Air Canada Centre and suited up, on stand-by while Bernier allowed a late goal in a 3-2 loss. Nishi suited up the next day at practice alongside Bernier and Reimer.

    They aren’t the first team to find a what amounts to a random goalie off the street, sign him to a one-day contract, and sit him on the bench in case of a serious problem. In face, the NHL, a forward-thinking league, has a protocol for such situations. From Rule 5.3: Goalkeeper:

    In regular League and Playoff games, if both listed goalkeepers are incapacitated, that team shall be entitled to dress and play any available goalkeeper who is eligible. This goalkeeper is eligible to sit on the player’s bench, in uniform.

    Over the past few seasons, the practice has made some headlines, with everyday people getting to play out their professional hockey fantasy, for at least part of a game.

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  • Published On Oct 20, 2013
  • Joe Thornton aftermath: Joffrey Lupul says he won’t talk to reporter again

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    The San Jose Sharks locker room is the center of the Joe Thornton four goal celebration comment controversy

    The sanctity of the dressing room is a burning question in the wake of Joe Thornton’s comment. (Getyy Images)

    By Allan Muir

    Vancouver Province writer Jason Botchford made a big splash on Thursday by reporting on Joe Thornton’s graphic plans for a future four-goal celebration, but his story ended any chance he had of dealing with at least one NHL player.

    MUIR: Hockey world prays Joe Thornton never celebrates four goals

    “That’s pretty disappointing as a player to see that,” Toronto Maple Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul said on TSN 1050 this afternoon. “[Media are] given full access to our room. Where’s it stop? What else can they report on while they’re in there if you’re gonna do things off the record?

    “I would hope to not see that guy in our room and certainly I’d never give him a quote again.”

    Asked if he thought other players would follow suit in blackballing Botchford, Lupul replied, “I hope so.”

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  • Published On Oct 11, 2013
  • George Parros’ injury in fight draws mockery on Instagram

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    Maple Leafs fans mocking George Parros

    Maple Leafs fans making fun of Canadiens’ enforcer George Parros after he was injured in a fight with Colton Orr.

    By Allan Muir

    The deep-seated rivalry between the Canadiens and the Maple Leafs goes beyond hockey. For generations of Canadians, it represents the Two Solitudes of French-speaking and English-speaking culture.

    It can get a bit intense, as good sporting rivalries will, but most understand there’s a limit to how intense — that there’s a line that should not be crossed. Most.

    Last night, a couple of Toronto “fans” decided to toss basic human empathy aside and cross it.

    In the wake of George Parros’ spirit-crushing injury last night, a pair of Leafs supporters decided it would be LOL funny to mimic the Canadiens’ enforcer as he lay prone on the ice. Oh yeah, they even called it “Parrosing” because hey, it’s just like planking!

    A CBC reporter, Mathieu Gohier, found the image on Instagram and posted it to Twitter.

    Here’s hoping these two have fun defending themselves.


  • Published On Oct 02, 2013
  • Leafs sign Phil Kessel to eight-year, $64 million extension; richest in club history

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    Phil Kessel racked up 52 points in 48 games last year for the Maple Leafs. (Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

    Phil Kessel racked up 52 points in 48 games last year for the Maple Leafs. (Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

    UPDATE: It’s official: Phil Kessel has signed a new eight-year deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs worth $64 million. The extension, which kicks in next season, will pay him $10 million each of the first two years, then drops to $9 million for two years, $7 million for two, then $6 million for the final two seasons. The deal has a limited no-trade clause.

    It confirms the speculation that ran rampant in the hockey world on Monday night (see tweets below) suggesting that the deal would be the most lucrative in franchise history.

    The numbers shouldn’t be surprising for a player who has finished in the top 10 in league scoring during each of the past two seasons, but anytime you hear anyone could get $8 million per year over the maximum eight years, it’s an eye opener. Especially when that player totes around a checkered reputation like Kessel and has never scored 40 goals in a season. But the Leafs clearly valued his breakthrough performance against the Bruins in last spring’s playoffs as a leading indicator of his big-game ability and see him as a player who can be a difference maker as the franchise looks to become a postseason threat. GM Dave Nonis said he’s glad Kessel “will be a part of our core group of players in Toronto until the 2021-22 season.”

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  • Published On Sep 30, 2013
  • Toronto’s David Clarkson gets max 10-game suspension for joining brawl

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    David Clarkson was the first bench player to enter into the fray, and as such received the appropriate suspension.

    David Clarkson was the first bench player to enter into the fray, and received the appropriate ban. (Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    David Clarkson’s going to have to wait a month to make his regular season debut for the Maple Leafs.

    As expected, the forward has been suspended for the first 10 games, without pay, after leaving the bench to join in last night’s line brawl between Toronto and the Buffalo Sabres. He’s also out for the team’s remaining preseason schedule.

    There wasn’t a lot of room for interpretation on this one. The suspension is mandated by Rule 70.10, which states: “The first player to leave the players’ or penalty bench illegally during an altercation or for the purpose of starting an altercation from either or both teams shall be suspended without pay for the next 10 regular League and/or playoff games of his team.”

    MUIR: Canucks suspensions show NHL’s consistent inconsistency

    Under the terms of the CBA, Clarkson will forfeit $269,230.80. The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.

    Clarkson will be eligible to return to the Maple Leafs’ lineup on Oct. 25 at Columbus.

    There’s no word yet from the league on a possible suspension for the man Clarkson was rushing to defend, Phil Kessel. The team’s top scorer landed at least three lumberjack swings on the legs of Buffalo’s John Scott, and received a match penalty for his efforts. He could end up in the press box for a couple of games as a result.

    MUIR: Ten things we learned from the Sabres-Maple Leafs brawl


  • Published On Sep 23, 2013
  • Ten things we learned from the Maple Leafs-Sabres line brawl

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    (Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

    Phil Kessel ended up trading jabs with Brian Flynn (among others) during a wild melee.  (Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    1. John Scott is as considerate as he is large.
    “I said, ‘Phil I think we’re going to have to go here, just to let you know,’ ” Scott told the media in Buffalo. “I would have went after who ever they put lined up next to me. I don’t know what their coach had in mind. I wasn’t trying to hurt him. I was just trying to send a message. They put out Phil and that’s just who it happened to be.”

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  • Published On Sep 23, 2013
  • Must-See Video: Paul Ranger’s kick shot highlights greatest/worst shootout ever

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    However you feel about the NHL’s ultimate tiebreaker, the shootout that decided tonight’s Toronto/Buffalo preseason tilt just confirmed your belief that it’s the most exciting, or most gimmicky, part of the game.

    By the time Toronto’s Jay McClement beat Jhonas Enroth with a wrister through the five-hole for the winner, 30–yes 30!–shooters had taken their place at center ice, and 29 of them had been denied.

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  • Published On Sep 21, 2013


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