Brian Burke has officially signed a 6 year deal with the TOronto Maple Leafs.
Jason Spezza: “yeah you like it in your five hole eh”
Anton Volchenkov: “jasonnn, not in public!”
So this is how Ottawa has been boosting chemistry for more results. I now understand why Ray Emery was tripping there. He just wasn’t down.
The Maple Leafs have been scarred by the Mats Sundin situation. With Sundin set to leave the Leafs, either through retirement or free-agency, the Maple Leafs will have to do like the Green Bay Packers and look to new options. Like Favre, Sundin has been the face of the franchise for years. The last two weeks, we’ve seen what Green Bay is capable of without Favre but many would argue that this team doesn’t have an Aaron Rodgers they can rely on. Cliff Fletcher is one suggesting this himself. “There are rocky days ahead,” said Fletcher. But of course, the Leafs are a business and they are worried about the money. “We have a lot of marketing challenges”, this coming from MLSE VP and CEO Tom Anselmi. I believe there is still more in this team than suggested by most analysts but not that much more. I’m not as crazy as other fans who believed those fools would make the playoffs last year or those who think that this team could make the playoffs. I don’t feel that this team will finish last place in the league like suggested by most.
There are a lot of people on this team that will not be joining us from last seasons team. The list is headed by big name players (not big performance players) like Darcy Tucker, Andrew Raycroft, Kyle Wellwood and the 28.75 million dollar man himself, Bryan McCabe (and probably soon Mats Sundin). Darcy Tucker is someone I’d like to thank for his contributions in earlier season until he became a one trick pony last season. Kyle Wellwood was someone who was seen as a bright talent. He does have the hockey smarts to become a great NHL player but he doesn’t have the physical capabilities. In this league, if you want to be a great player at a size like his, you must strengthen your body. You have be quick and strong. Kyle was neither. He was possibly one of the slowest players on the team. Skating has been a major problem for the Leafs, as we’ve always drafted players without the ability to skate at an elite level. Andrew Raycroft set the Leafs record for 37 wins by a goalkeeper two seasons ago but he was one of the worst goalies this franchise has seen at the same time. He was unable to compete against Toskala for the number on spot and he was unable to hold his own as a back-up. Mats Sundin is someone I would also like to thank for his contributions but it’s time that we part ways. I would like to mention that I still am very very upset that he didn’t leave at the trade deadline and I will never forgive him for that.
So we got rid of a lot of big name players we didn’t bring as many big names in but we did surprise many.
Lets look at the additions from the net out. You might think that the Leafs are going retro too often. We brought back Cliff Fletcher and now we went and got Curtis Joseph. Joseph was probably the best netminder we had since we last won the cup. I’m not saying that because I saw each and everyone of them but based on numbers and how far he got us. Next on D we made a few additions. So we essentially went out and got 3 new defencemen but only two are against our cap because we are filing for grievance for Frogren. We got Mike Van Ryn through trade and Jeff Finger through free agency. Both were surprises because we essentially downgraded in Mike Van Ryn from Bryan McCabe. Van Ryn has a blast from the point but did have two wrist surgeries so it remains to be seen how he will hold up after those. I think if he holds his own in his end and contributes offensively because he will get PP time, he may be a great addition to a contender and would get us good value because he wouldn’t be a rental. Jeff Finger along with Frogren will add a lot of size in front of our net. Forwards will think twice when bringing the puck in behind the goal line and at Toskala. Up front we looked to free-agency and trading draft picks to improve depth (or lack of). Hollweg was acquired from New York Rangers for a 5th round draft pick. Mikhail Grabovski was acquired from Montreal for Greg Pateryn and a 2nd round pick in the 2010 draft. Jamal Mayers was acquired from St. Louis Blues for a 3rd round draft pick in the 2008 draft. What blows my mind is why a team in the rebuilding process is trading away draft picks that would help them rebuild. This fits in well with Fletcher’s ideal, “draft schmaft”. Hollweg and Mayers were acquired to make this team a lot tougher and keep grinders off of our star players (or once again lack of). I don’t understand how we traded away a 3rd round pick for a 33 year old. Hollweg and Grabovski are still sort of young so I don’t mind much, but 33!!!!!! Through free-agency, we brought in 27 goal scorer Niklas Hagman. No one is expecting Hagman to score 27 again. He’s a speedy player that works hard every single shift. He’s a third liner on any team except the Toronto Maple Third and Fourth Liners. Only Antropov is a top six on this team and any contending team, he’s not even that (ie. Detroit).
So here’s what I think our line up will be for the first game of the season:
LW C RW
G: Vesa Toskala
Backup: Curtis Joseph
Leading Points: Nik Antropov – 59 Points
Leading Goal Scorer: Nikolai Kulemin – 28 Goals
Final Position Overall: 29th in head of only the New York Islanders
Draft Pick: 2nd Overall – VIKTOR HEDMAN
It’s not going to be a great season for us, but no one said it would, literally, no one. The Leafs will simply live and die based on how they play in their own zone because it’s simply puzzling how the Leafs will score.
People have already said to me that it’s ridiculous that I think Kulemin will get 28 goals. I’m well aware that it is ridiculous. If I’m wrong people are gonna say here’s another one of the idiots that thought he wouldn’t do anything but if I’m right, I can tell people I saw it. In the RSL, he was barely able to score at that rate because he has a frame built for the NHL. If he gains a little more strength with his speed and power in this league I think it is achievable. Kulemin will start with low minutes but the management has already said that spots are open based on performance. Kulemin can work his way up.
So there’s been a lot of talk before the season started. Sir Alex Ferguson went out and said Chelsea’s players are too old and they’ve peaked. Scolari came back and said nothing. That’s not because his English is poor. If you watch his interviews he is quite competent in English. He just wanted his players to go out there and let their football do the talking.
So how did their football go?
We started preseason by flaming up Guangzhou 4-0. We had Chengdu Blades next and did worse with the lower quality squad, 7-0. Chelsea traveled to Malaysia to face Malaysian Select XI and we dealt with them less formidably, 2-0. We went to Moscow for the Railways Cup. We had Lokomotiv Moscow and AC Milan on the schedule. Our penalty misery in Moscow continued as we dominated Lokomotiv Moscow but lost to them in a Penalty shootout. We dusted up AC Milan like they were some rusty Chinese sweatshop team. Anelka scored 4 as we downed Milan 5-0.
That’s all pre-season and doesn’t matter that much. Opening Saturday passed and Sunday was the big day for Chelsea fans worldwide. Liverpool and Arsenal won their opening fixtures and it was obvious that we didn’t want to start slow as we did last season or drop any points. Liverpool defeated Sunderland even though the Blackcats deserved much more from the match. Arsenal got fully deserved points as they dominated but only scored once which came in the 4th minute by the foot of Samir Nasri. I’m very fond of Nasri and I think he’ll be a great talent, too bad he’s with the wrong Londoner’s. Our other London rivals, Tottenham Hotspurs suffered a humiliating defeat considering how much they spent this summer and how much they were hyped. This came at the hands of Middlesbrough. We hadn’t spent as much as we are known to spend during transfer periods. We spent 16M pounds (sorry I live in Canada, I don’t have the symbol) on Jose Bosingwa and another 8M on Deco.
I really think we came out Sunday afternoon (morning for me) and shocked the Premier League. We played beautiful passing and attacking football. We played with flair, quick movement, and quick distribution that no one had seen in the Premier League. I’ve heard many people say that the win doesn’t show much about Chelsea because Pompey played very lethargic defense. I would really disagree with that statement. I think Pompey came out and couldn’t defend against us because they weren’t quite sure how to. Their attacking was troubled because Defoe and Crouch were unable to make a connection. We just simply dominated them in the midfield and in the wings in a way that they didn’t know how to cope. Joe Cole, Jose Bosingwa, Ashley Cole, and to a certain degree Florent Malouda were overwhelming for the fullbacks of Portsmouth. Ashley Cole and Jose Bosingwa were constantly threatening Pompey with their overlapping. In fact, we even saw some overlap from John Terry on the left flank. In the middle is where we were extremely frightening though. Ballack made his contribution in a couple of goals and then picked up a knock. Lampard had great delivery and some good chances on goal. He finished a penalty with great poise as he always does. Deco was something else going forward. He creatively distributed the ball and held the middle of the pitch in a way that no one has ever seen in the Premier League. His vision, patience, and understanding of the game is very understated by his transfer fee and he showed it in Stamford Bridge. He topped it off with a beauty from outside the box that frankly, David James should have handled better. Deco’s defense was a little erratic. He needs to work on his patience defending and keeping his studs down as he caught Diarra. Most other referees would book someone for a challenge like that. Everyone was constantly ready with a run. Even though they wouldn’t get the ball all the time, they were prepared to make another and this led to a lot of creative breaks for Chelsea. Our finishing was sort of an issue yesterday. The score could have easily been 6 or 7. Midfield talk would go unfinished if I didn’t mention John Obi Mikel’s contribution. He was always picking apart any sort of delivery Pompey’s midfield or defense tried to send the way of Peter Crouch and Jermaine Defoe. He was first to assist John Terry, Riccy Carvalho, Ashley Cole, and Jose Bosingwa. He constantly supplied the midfield and flanks with chances to go forward. He even created chances for himself by breaking down Pompey with his dribble but his shooting was poor. He showed great improvement from last season in his challenging. Overall, a lot of maturity from the young holding midfield. Hopefully he can keep up such performances against tougher midfields. Anelka picked up a goal which should really boost up his confidence. I just can’t help but think what this squad could do if we get consistency down the wings and strikers firing on all cylinders.
Overall we were really moving the ball as if there was a samba beat in the background and they were moving to it. What Brazil are famous for is individual flair. We showed flair of a club. As a group, we were relentless. So imagine mixing Scolari’s flowing style with Mourinho’s defensive responsibility. We have a team that loves to attack and pass but understands its defensive responsibility. I must also say that we have Petr Cech and Carlo Cudicini. Both are fine goaltenders and Petr Cech did keep us above Pompey with a couple of clutch saves. His performances are clutch for us this season.
I was on Chelsea’s Facebook Fan Group earlier today and someone posted a link to the Manchester United group and here’s some posts of the fear in United’s fans:
chelsea are really scary. where are the holes in their team? new manager, new players- seemingly no problem. injuries? they have like a million top players, absolutely unparalleled depth in the world of football. they are not going away and it seems that any thought of them needing time to gel with scolari, bosingwa, deco etc are gone. this is gonna be a tough season
Yes our depth is great and we have lots of back up in most positions.
I cant agree with u more…I watched the first half against Pompey and they were really very good…hate to say it!
They will lose there bottle though…if you shut down there midfield they will struggle
Shut down any teams midfield and they will struggle, that’s essentially the goal in every match. Pathetic comments.
The depth in their squad is the best thing that they have going for them. The compititions for spots will bring out the best in players
Competition in the midfield is fierce. Ballack, Essien, Deco, Lampard, Cole, SWP, Kalou, and Malouda fighting for their lives for each position.
My point is that somebody (maybe Fergie, maybe Gill, maybe anybody in the top seats of United) seems to be afraid to open the safe and show the money when THIS shouldn’t be an issue at all with all the yearly revenues worldwide.
The bottom line is: now that the transfer window is open only for very few days, this is no time to hesitate with money for United. All they have to do is find the checkbook, sign the damn player and restore the balance of power in our favor.
Isn’t this essentially what Manchester United fans have criticized Chelsea for doing? They realize what our squad is and now understand that they must buy to remain competitive. At least Danny from Montreal understands.
there are a lot of financial considerations to be made, and we don’t have Abramovich as our owner… we actually have debt to pay off.
So they realize that their team is in trouble.
Its true we have depth, but as you can see we are vulnerable to something like this when we are totally dry in the midfield and attack, I think chelsea have sooo many attacking options thats not something that will happen to them at any point unless their team bus blows up
Not so much fun in the midfield without Carrick and Scholes. We don’t have the same problem.
did you see them against AC milan? jesus christ nicholas anelka…
Signs of someone who’s ready to jump ship. Calvin, you might as well just join us now.
chelsea had MUCH more injury issues/african cup of nations issues than arsenal last year, the fact that they still finished 2nd only proves my point further, it doesnt matter when in the season the bad luck strikes, its always 3 points for every game. chelsea were def hit worse last year, but they are just a deeper team (and are therefor more equipped to deal with injuries), and that gap only grew this summer
No excuses, this year we are finish the job off. A regular in the Chelsea group, Andrew wrote something that made me laugh and reminded me why I want United to buy Berbatov.
If they buy berbatov, they’ll have one less midfielder, and we know Ronaldo doesn’t track back whatsoever, only Rooney does really and then he’s not effective in the attack.
I hope they buy Berbatov, we’ll absolutely wreck them if they try and play an all out attacking side.
I know this was long but I hope you enjoyed it because this is going to be a really great season for us and we’ve only gotten started.
Here are the highlights in great quality: