Skip to main content

Marlies To Face Albany Devils In Round Two

From Official Toronto Maple Leafs

Friday, 04.29.2016 / 4:28 PM ET / News

The Toronto Marlies and Albany Devils will open the North Division finals Wednesday, starting the best of seven series at Ricoh Coliseum. The two teams will play a 2-3-2 format, with the Marlies hosting the first two games and if necessary the final two games of the series. The full schedule is as follows;

Game 1 – Wednesday, May 4 – Albany at Toronto, 7:30 PM

Game 2 – Friday, May 6 – Albany at Toronto, 7:30 PM

Game 3 – Sunday, May 8 – Toronto at Albany, 5:00 PM

Game 4 – Tuesday, May 10 – Toronto at Albany, 7:00 PM

*Game 5 – Thursday, May 12 – Toronto at Albany, 7:00 PM

*Game 6 – Saturday, May 14 – Albany at Toronto, 3:00 PM

*Game 7 – Monday, May 16 – Albany at Toronto, 7:30 PM

*if necessary… All times Eastern

The North final will showcase the divisions first place Marlies (.750) against the second place Devils (.671). In six meetings this season, Toronto holds a 4-2-0-0 advantage, outscoring Albany 17-10. Toronto enters the series following a first round sweep of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, while the Albany Devils dispatched of the Utica Comets in four games.

Tickets for all round two home games go on sale at noon through marlies.ca or by calling 416-597-PUCK (7825).

Source: Marlies To Face Albany Devils In Round Two

Marlies To Face Albany Devils In Round Two

From Official Toronto Maple Leafs

Friday, 04.29.2016 / 4:28 PM ET / News

The Toronto Marlies and Albany Devils will open the North Division finals Wednesday, starting the best of seven series at Ricoh Coliseum. The two teams will play a 2-3-2 format, with the Marlies hosting the first two games and if necessary the final two games of the series. The full schedule is as follows;

Game 1 – Wednesday, May 4 – Albany at Toronto, 7:30 PM

Game 2 – Friday, May 6 – Albany at Toronto, 7:30 PM

Game 3 – Sunday, May 8 – Toronto at Albany, 5:00 PM

Game 4 – Tuesday, May 10 – Toronto at Albany, 7:00 PM

*Game 5 – Thursday, May 12 – Toronto at Albany, 7:00 PM

*Game 6 – Saturday, May 14 – Albany at Toronto, 3:00 PM

*Game 7 – Monday, May 16 – Albany at Toronto, 7:30 PM

*if necessary… All times Eastern

The North final will showcase the divisions first place Marlies (.750) against the second place Devils (.671). In six meetings this season, Toronto holds a 4-2-0-0 advantage, outscoring Albany 17-10. Toronto enters the series following a first round sweep of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, while the Albany Devils dispatched of the Utica Comets in four games.

Tickets for all round two home games go on sale at noon through marlies.ca or by calling 416-597-PUCK (7825).

Source: Marlies To Face Albany Devils In Round Two

A 2016 NHL Draft Lottery rundown

From Official Toronto Maple Leafs

The 2016 NHL Draft Lottery is set to take place on April 30 and the Maple Leafs head into the event with the highest odds of drafting first overall in the upcoming NHL Draft.

As former MapleLeafs.com columnist David Alter explained in a piece one year ago, the NHL Draft Lottery is comprised of balls marked ‘1’ through ’14’ with each team having various combinations of those 14 numbers. All told, there are 1001 combinations available between those balls, which are drawn at random. The draw occurs behind closed doors and team representatives — one from each team eligible in the lottery — are not allowed contact with the outside world until the lottery is concluded and the results are announced on television.

Prior to 2015, teams further down the standings would only be able to move up a maximum of four selections if they won the lottery. For example, a team slated to draft 10th overall could only move up to the sixth overall selection. Last season, each team in the lottery mix had a chance at winning the first overall selection. Many will recall the Maple Leafs had a 9.5 percent chance of drafting first overall one year ago, a 45 percent chance of selecting fourth — they took Mitch Marner in that position — and a 45.5 percent chance of selecting fifth.

In 2016, for the first time in NHL history, the League has adopted a system similar to that of the NBA. The lottery will now include three draws — for the first, second and third overall selections — to determine the draft order. Each team in the lottery has a chance to draft in one of the first three slots. The additional lotteries also mean re-draws are possible as the lottery progresses. The team that wins the first overall selection could also be drawn to win the second overall pick in which case a re-draw will occur.

While the Leafs have the highest mathematical odds of winning the first overall selection, they only own 200 combinations of the 1001 possible combinations in each draw. You can see the numbered ball system play out at your leisure here.

“But, wait,” you’re likely saying. “Isn’t 200 of 1001 less than the 20 percent I’ve heard so much about?” That is true. One combination is automatically designated as the aforementioned re-draw combination. So the Leafs have 200 combinations of a possible 1,000 winning combinations for teams and a single re-draw combination. A lottery win would be Toronto’s first in 21 years of the NHL Draft Lottery.

Here’s a rundown of the Leafs draft lottery odds…

First Overall: 20 percent

Theoretical comparable scenario: You and four friends draw straws to see who is going to win a framed Wendel Clark 1985 NHL Draft photo signed by the man himself. You have a one in five chance of winning the photo, meaning there’s a 20 percent chance you win and call it a day. There’s an 80 percent chance you walk away with a brand new straw.

Past first overall selections by the Leafs: Wendel Clark

Second Overall: 17.5 percent

Theoretical comparable scenario: You’re at a Leafs event with 39 of your closest friends. The promotions team is doing a t-shirt toss, but they get to you and your friends with only seven t-shirts left. That means there’s a 17.5 percent chance you get an awesome new Leafs shirt and a 72.5 percent chance you leave wearing the shirt you agonized over wearing before you left the house.

Past second overall selections by the Leafs: None

Third Overall: 15 percent

Theoretical comparable scenario: You enter a raffle to win a pair of tickets to the Leafs 2016 Home Opener. There are 19 other people in the draw and three pairs of tickets up for grabs. There is a 15 percent chance you are one of the three winners and an 85 percent chance you’re refreshing Leafs Twitter for Selfie Seats on the day of the Home Opener.

Past third overall selections by the Leafs: Scott Thornton, Gary Nylund

Fourth Overall: 47.5 percent

Theoretical comparable scenario: After the theoretical second overall t-shirt toss above, the promo team finds 12 more t-shirts in a box and decides to throw the rest towards you and your 39 friends. Now 19 people in your group of 40 will leave with an awesome new Leafs shirt instead of the original lucky seven winners.

Past fourth overall selections by the Leafs: Mitch Marner, Al Iafrate, Lanny McDonald

For random reference: You had a one in six chance of winning a cup of coffee or food during this year’s Roll up the Rim contest at Tim Hortons — slightly less likely than the Leafs winning the second overall selection. And in the spirit of fun for those who recall the Powerball lottery saga of 2016, there was a one in 292.2 million chance of having the winning ticket in that lottery. So, yes, considerably better odds to win first overall.

In sum, the Maple Leafs have a 52.5 percent chance of drafting in the top three and a 47.5 percent chance of selecting fourth overall. They can’t select lower than fourth with their top draft selection. So, while it seems the Leafs are highly likely to draft fourth overall at a passing glance, they’re actually at better odds than a coin flip to select in the top three.

The lottery will be held at 8 pm on April 30 in Toronto. To see how it plays out you can tune in on CBC and be sure to check in with MapleLeafs.com, Leafs TV and @MapleLeafs on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to see how things shake out for the Blue and White.

Source: A 2016 NHL Draft Lottery rundown

One-on-One with Lou Lamoriello

From Official Toronto Maple Leafs

In late July, Lou Lamoriello will celebrate his first full calendar year as Maple Leafs GM, and the hockey icon’s impact on the franchise has been clear and welcomed since he was hired by team president Brendan Shanahan. The 73-year-old Lamoriello – who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009 and won three Stanley Cup championships in 28 years with the New Jersey Devils – took time in mid-April to speak with MapleLeafs.com on his initial season in Toronto, evolutions within the game, and more.

Here is an edited version of that conversation:

MapleLeafs.com: You’ve been in Toronto for almost a year now. What have you learned about the market that you may not have known before?

Lou Lamoriello: Well, I don’t know if it’s what I didn’t know about it, it was more reaffirming what I thought it was all about: the passion of the fans for the Maple Leafs, and the amount of people who are aware of the sport. I always thought there was a lot, but it’s like everywhere, and anyone. And also, the coverage is what I expected, which is similar to Stanley Cup coverage.

MapleLeafs.com: When you look back at the 2015-16 season, the general consensus in the press box was that, whether it was affected by injuries, trades or other roster movements, you really didn’t see any change in effort from the team from game-to-game. Is that a credit to the work we saw from Leafs head coach Mike Babcock and Marlies head coach Sheldon Keefe?

Lou Lamoriello: Without question. Right from the first day of training camp, Mike established what would be happening, Sheldon spent plenty of time with Mike at that time, he was very open with all coaches (in the organization). And the culture was set with what was going to happen on that ice. The players followed, bought into it, and consistently did that throughout the year.

There was never a question for me that that would happen. And what it allowed us to do certainly was to see how many embraced it, and how many improved on it, because the word is accountability: their accountability to what’s asked, their accountability to themselves, and certainly, to the organization.

MapleLeafs.com: There’s a focus on the Marlies now, and you spoke after the Leafs’ season ended about the importance of the playoffs for the AHL team. And the Marlies have an incredibly deep pool of players from which to choose a post-season roster – is that also a credit to director of player personnel Mark Hunter and the organization’s drafting and development team?

Lou Lamoriello: Well, there’s no question. The job that they’ve done, with reference to the prospects – whether they be drafted or whether (they were identified) through more independent people as it was with (the acquisitions of Marlies and Leafs forwards Zach) Hyman and (Nikita) Soshnikov, you need this type of evaluation and signings to have success, especially with the draft limited to seven rounds. And these playoffs are so important for those young players there, to go through the next step, and to gain the experience that comes with playoff hockey, no matter what level it’s at – and also, should adversity strike, how you overcome it.

MapleLeafs.com: In terms of specialization of coaching and management at the NHL level, as one of the more experienced GM’s in the history of the league, do you see that trend continuing?

Lou Lamoriello: Well, first of all, all of this came with technology. Once technology became as sophisticated as it is, became as concise as it is, it just extended to all sports. No matter what sport it is today, you can do things you need a tremendous amount of people to do, to have success with it and interpret in the right way so that it can be presented.

That’s what’s transpired, and now we’ve not only increased that type of knowledge called analytics, we’ve increased the number of people on the staff and become more specific in roles, in all organizations – whether it be a development coach going out with the prospects, which you never had, or special skating coaches, special skill coaches. You see players hiring people outside the organization to work with them, not only outside the season but within. And you see (coaching) staffs now that have additions to it, whether they be on the bench or elsewhere. Once this year, I thought I saw four, maybe five (coaches) behind the bench.

What I’m saying is, we keep looking for more and more ways to sort of extract information and disseminate it to the player, as far as helping the coaching end of it. So we do everything and anything we can, and that’s the result of it right now.

MapleLeafs.com: When it comes to technology, we’ve seen some people grumble, for instance, about the coach’s challenge slowing the pace of the game. Where do you think the game is headed with technology? Are you optimistic?

Lou Lamoriello: I am optimistic about where it’s headed. Like everything else, you have to be very careful and you have to make sure that with what you’re doing, you get as close to 100% (accuracy) as you can, although that’s not what you’re always going to get. I saw a playoff game recently where the technology called a play on offence right, on a play that was extremely close. I saw it being played over and over again, and you could never ask the normal eye to make that decision. And in my opinion, it changed the game. The outcome, I think – and I don’t know this for sure – was a game-changer, just like an exceptional save sometimes is a game-changer. That was like scoring a goal, rather than taking one away.

So the technology will hopefully go just so far. If we use as an example another sport such as baseball, I think we have to be very careful if we ever had calling balls and strikes changed and placed out of the judgement of an umpire. We’re trying everything here we can to get (calls) right, but there are certain things we will never get perfect, and hopefully the technology doesn’t get in the way of upstaging the game itself because a judgment might be wrong. That is our game.

MapleLeafs.com: After some of the moves the Leafs have made during the season, can you describe why and how salary cap flexibility is considered a major asset for the organization as it moves ahead?

Lou Lamoriello: You have to manage that asset (by) not using money just because you have it with the hope that you get better. You have to establish the direction you’re going, and you stick with it. Whatever decision that you make today, you have to have tomorrow in sight, and years after that in sight, because it comes up quickly.

MapleLeafs.com: With the draft and potential changes to the roster ahead, what’s the message you’re driving home within the organization during this off-season?

Lou Lamoriello: I think the message that we have today is no different than the message that Brendan templated, in my opinion, when he came in. And that was this was going to be a building process to sustain success for a period of time, not something that you’re capable of doing on a short-term.

I have been through that, I know exactly what that means. Mike has been through it because he experienced that in Detroit. I had the good fortune to see that when you work within the framework of your drafts, you work within the development process that you have, and that you know, should there be a free agent who can fit into that process and not (as a) short-term situation, that you do it.

So I think the message is that we are going to stay the course. The ‘pain’, as the word that has been out there, could be a little longer to some degree. No timeframe, but we’re going to do whatever is necessary to get that opportunity to sustain success. If it takes a little less time, it’ll happen; if it takes a little longer, it’ll happen. But it’s not something that we’re going to allow, say, the pressure outside (the organization) to get in the way.

Source: One-on-One with Lou Lamoriello

One-on-One with Lou Lamoriello

From Official Toronto Maple Leafs

In late July, Lou Lamoriello will celebrate his first full calendar year as Maple Leafs GM, and the hockey icon’s impact on the franchise has been clear and welcomed since he was hired by team president Brendan Shanahan. The 73-year-old Lamoriello – who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009 and won three Stanley Cup championships in 28 years with the New Jersey Devils – took time in mid-April to speak with MapleLeafs.com on his initial season in Toronto, evolutions within the game, and more.

Here is an edited version of that conversation:

MapleLeafs.com: You’ve been in Toronto for almost a year now. What have you learned about the market that you may not have known before?

Lou Lamoriello: Well, I don’t know if it’s what I didn’t know about it, it was more reaffirming what I thought it was all about: the passion of the fans for the Maple Leafs, and the amount of people who are aware of the sport. I always thought there was a lot, but it’s like everywhere, and anyone. And also, the coverage is what I expected, which is similar to Stanley Cup coverage.

MapleLeafs.com: When you look back at the 2015-16 season, the general consensus in the press box was that, whether it was affected by injuries, trades or other roster movements, you really didn’t see any change in effort from the team from game-to-game. Is that a credit to the work we saw from Leafs head coach Mike Babcock and Marlies head coach Sheldon Keefe?

Lou Lamoriello: Without question. Right from the first day of training camp, Mike established what would be happening, Sheldon spent plenty of time with Mike at that time, he was very open with all coaches (in the organization). And the culture was set with what was going to happen on that ice. The players followed, bought into it, and consistently did that throughout the year.

There was never a question for me that that would happen. And what it allowed us to do certainly was to see how many embraced it, and how many improved on it, because the word is accountability: their accountability to what’s asked, their accountability to themselves, and certainly, to the organization.

MapleLeafs.com: There’s a focus on the Marlies now, and you spoke after the Leafs’ season ended about the importance of the playoffs for the AHL team. And the Marlies have an incredibly deep pool of players from which to choose a post-season roster – is that also a credit to director of player personnel Mark Hunter and the organization’s drafting and development team?

Lou Lamoriello: Well, there’s no question. The job that they’ve done, with reference to the prospects – whether they be drafted or whether (they were identified) through more independent people as it was with (the acquisitions of Marlies and Leafs forwards Zach) Hyman and (Nikita) Soshnikov, you need this type of evaluation and signings to have success, especially with the draft limited to seven rounds. And these playoffs are so important for those young players there, to go through the next step, and to gain the experience that comes with playoff hockey, no matter what level it’s at – and also, should adversity strike, how you overcome it.

MapleLeafs.com: In terms of specialization of coaching and management at the NHL level, as one of the more experienced GM’s in the history of the league, do you see that trend continuing?

Lou Lamoriello: Well, first of all, all of this came with technology. Once technology became as sophisticated as it is, became as concise as it is, it just extended to all sports. No matter what sport it is today, you can do things you need a tremendous amount of people to do, to have success with it and interpret in the right way so that it can be presented.

That’s what’s transpired, and now we’ve not only increased that type of knowledge called analytics, we’ve increased the number of people on the staff and become more specific in roles, in all organizations – whether it be a development coach going out with the prospects, which you never had, or special skating coaches, special skill coaches. You see players hiring people outside the organization to work with them, not only outside the season but within. And you see (coaching) staffs now that have additions to it, whether they be on the bench or elsewhere. Once this year, I thought I saw four, maybe five (coaches) behind the bench.

What I’m saying is, we keep looking for more and more ways to sort of extract information and disseminate it to the player, as far as helping the coaching end of it. So we do everything and anything we can, and that’s the result of it right now.

MapleLeafs.com: When it comes to technology, we’ve seen some people grumble, for instance, about the coach’s challenge slowing the pace of the game. Where do you think the game is headed with technology? Are you optimistic?

Lou Lamoriello: I am optimistic about where it’s headed. Like everything else, you have to be very careful and you have to make sure that with what you’re doing, you get as close to 100% (accuracy) as you can, although that’s not what you’re always going to get. I saw a playoff game recently where the technology called a play on offence right, on a play that was extremely close. I saw it being played over and over again, and you could never ask the normal eye to make that decision. And in my opinion, it changed the game. The outcome, I think – and I don’t know this for sure – was a game-changer, just like an exceptional save sometimes is a game-changer. That was like scoring a goal, rather than taking one away.

So the technology will hopefully go just so far. If we use as an example another sport such as baseball, I think we have to be very careful if we ever had calling balls and strikes changed and placed out of the judgement of an umpire. We’re trying everything here we can to get (calls) right, but there are certain things we will never get perfect, and hopefully the technology doesn’t get in the way of upstaging the game itself because a judgment might be wrong. That is our game.

MapleLeafs.com: After some of the moves the Leafs have made during the season, can you describe why and how salary cap flexibility is considered a major asset for the organization as it moves ahead?

Lou Lamoriello: You have to manage that asset (by) not using money just because you have it with the hope that you get better. You have to establish the direction you’re going, and you stick with it. Whatever decision that you make today, you have to have tomorrow in sight, and years after that in sight, because it comes up quickly.

MapleLeafs.com: With the draft and potential changes to the roster ahead, what’s the message you’re driving home within the organization during this off-season?

Lou Lamoriello: I think the message that we have today is no different than the message that Brendan templated, in my opinion, when he came in. And that was this was going to be a building process to sustain success for a period of time, not something that you’re capable of doing on a short-term.

I have been through that, I know exactly what that means. Mike has been through it because he experienced that in Detroit. I had the good fortune to see that when you work within the framework of your drafts, you work within the development process that you have, and that you know, should there be a free agent who can fit into that process and not (as a) short-term situation, that you do it.

So I think the message is that we are going to stay the course. The ‘pain’, as the word that has been out there, could be a little longer to some degree. No timeframe, but we’re going to do whatever is necessary to get that opportunity to sustain success. If it takes a little less time, it’ll happen; if it takes a little longer, it’ll happen. But it’s not something that we’re going to allow, say, the pressure outside (the organization) to get in the way.

Source: One-on-One with Lou Lamoriello

One-on-One with Lou Lamoriello

From Official Toronto Maple Leafs

In late July, Lou Lamoriello will celebrate his first full calendar year as Maple Leafs GM, and the hockey icon’s impact on the franchise has been clear and welcomed since he was hired by team president Brendan Shanahan. The 73-year-old Lamoriello – who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009 and won three Stanley Cup championships in 28 years with the New Jersey Devils – took time in mid-April to speak with MapleLeafs.com on his initial season in Toronto, evolutions within the game, and more.

Here is an edited version of that conversation:

MapleLeafs.com: You’ve been in Toronto for almost a year now. What have you learned about the market that you may not have known before?

Lou Lamoriello: Well, I don’t know if it’s what I didn’t know about it, it was more reaffirming what I thought it was all about: the passion of the fans for the Maple Leafs, and the amount of people who are aware of the sport. I always thought there was a lot, but it’s like everywhere, and anyone. And also, the coverage is what I expected, which is similar to Stanley Cup coverage.

MapleLeafs.com: When you look back at the 2015-16 season, the general consensus in the press box was that, whether it was affected by injuries, trades or other roster movements, you really didn’t see any change in effort from the team from game-to-game. Is that a credit to the work we saw from Leafs head coach Mike Babcock and Marlies head coach Sheldon Keefe?

Lou Lamoriello: Without question. Right from the first day of training camp, Mike established what would be happening, Sheldon spent plenty of time with Mike at that time, he was very open with all coaches (in the organization). And the culture was set with what was going to happen on that ice. The players followed, bought into it, and consistently did that throughout the year.

There was never a question for me that that would happen. And what it allowed us to do certainly was to see how many embraced it, and how many improved on it, because the word is accountability: their accountability to what’s asked, their accountability to themselves, and certainly, to the organization.

MapleLeafs.com: There’s a focus on the Marlies now, and you spoke after the Leafs’ season ended about the importance of the playoffs for the AHL team. And the Marlies have an incredibly deep pool of players from which to choose a post-season roster – is that also a credit to director of player personnel Mark Hunter and the organization’s drafting and development team?

Lou Lamoriello: Well, there’s no question. The job that they’ve done, with reference to the prospects – whether they be drafted or whether (they were identified) through more independent people as it was with (the acquisitions of Marlies and Leafs forwards Zach) Hyman and (Nikita) Soshnikov, you need this type of evaluation and signings to have success, especially with the draft limited to seven rounds. And these playoffs are so important for those young players there, to go through the next step, and to gain the experience that comes with playoff hockey, no matter what level it’s at – and also, should adversity strike, how you overcome it.

MapleLeafs.com: In terms of specialization of coaching and management at the NHL level, as one of the more experienced GM’s in the history of the league, do you see that trend continuing?

Lou Lamoriello: Well, first of all, all of this came with technology. Once technology became as sophisticated as it is, became as concise as it is, it just extended to all sports. No matter what sport it is today, you can do things you need a tremendous amount of people to do, to have success with it and interpret in the right way so that it can be presented.

That’s what’s transpired, and now we’ve not only increased that type of knowledge called analytics, we’ve increased the number of people on the staff and become more specific in roles, in all organizations – whether it be a development coach going out with the prospects, which you never had, or special skating coaches, special skill coaches. You see players hiring people outside the organization to work with them, not only outside the season but within. And you see (coaching) staffs now that have additions to it, whether they be on the bench or elsewhere. Once this year, I thought I saw four, maybe five (coaches) behind the bench.

What I’m saying is, we keep looking for more and more ways to sort of extract information and disseminate it to the player, as far as helping the coaching end of it. So we do everything and anything we can, and that’s the result of it right now.

MapleLeafs.com: When it comes to technology, we’ve seen some people grumble, for instance, about the coach’s challenge slowing the pace of the game. Where do you think the game is headed with technology? Are you optimistic?

Lou Lamoriello: I am optimistic about where it’s headed. Like everything else, you have to be very careful and you have to make sure that with what you’re doing, you get as close to 100% (accuracy) as you can, although that’s not what you’re always going to get. I saw a playoff game recently where the technology called a play on offence right, on a play that was extremely close. I saw it being played over and over again, and you could never ask the normal eye to make that decision. And in my opinion, it changed the game. The outcome, I think – and I don’t know this for sure – was a game-changer, just like an exceptional save sometimes is a game-changer. That was like scoring a goal, rather than taking one away.

So the technology will hopefully go just so far. If we use as an example another sport such as baseball, I think we have to be very careful if we ever had calling balls and strikes changed and placed out of the judgement of an umpire. We’re trying everything here we can to get (calls) right, but there are certain things we will never get perfect, and hopefully the technology doesn’t get in the way of upstaging the game itself because a judgment might be wrong. That is our game.

MapleLeafs.com: After some of the moves the Leafs have made during the season, can you describe why and how salary cap flexibility is considered a major asset for the organization as it moves ahead?

Lou Lamoriello: You have to manage that asset (by) not using money just because you have it with the hope that you get better. You have to establish the direction you’re going, and you stick with it. Whatever decision that you make today, you have to have tomorrow in sight, and years after that in sight, because it comes up quickly.

MapleLeafs.com: With the draft and potential changes to the roster ahead, what’s the message you’re driving home within the organization during this off-season?

Lou Lamoriello: I think the message that we have today is no different than the message that Brendan templated, in my opinion, when he came in. And that was this was going to be a building process to sustain success for a period of time, not something that you’re capable of doing on a short-term.

I have been through that, I know exactly what that means. Mike has been through it because he experienced that in Detroit. I had the good fortune to see that when you work within the framework of your drafts, you work within the development process that you have, and that you know, should there be a free agent who can fit into that process and not (as a) short-term situation, that you do it.

So I think the message is that we are going to stay the course. The ‘pain’, as the word that has been out there, could be a little longer to some degree. No timeframe, but we’re going to do whatever is necessary to get that opportunity to sustain success. If it takes a little less time, it’ll happen; if it takes a little longer, it’ll happen. But it’s not something that we’re going to allow, say, the pressure outside (the organization) to get in the way.

Source: One-on-One with Lou Lamoriello

TMLtalkin' – Marlies Playoff Preview

From Official Toronto Maple Leafs

Wednesday, 04.20.2016 / 3:15 PM ET / News

By Chris Lund

Chris Lund is joined by Todd Crocker, the voice of the Toronto Marlies, to preview the upcoming 2016 Calder Cup playoffs for the team. Chris also chats with Marlies captain Andrew Campbell about the 2015-16 campaign and what lies ahead for the team into the post-season.

00:57: Looking back at 2015-16 and teeing up the playoffs
17:06: Andrew Campbell interview
20:45: Marlies X-Factors and important info ahead of Games 1 & 2

Don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes and Stitcher.

Source: TMLtalkin' – Marlies Playoff Preview

Calder Cup playoffs a challenge and opportunity for prospects

From Official Toronto Maple Leafs

In the 2015-16 regular season, the Maple Leafs continued building a firm and important link between the team’s NHL roster and its American League affiliate Marlies squad. With the year over for the Buds, team management returned many young players to the AHL for what it hopes is a very long playoff run – and a number of veteran Leafs who’ve been through the grind of a post-season charge at the professional level made sure they advised the youngsters on the challenges that lie ahead.

“I was talking with (rookie Leafs centre) Willie (Nylander) the other day, about it – you’re not going to go down there and run the show,” Leafs centre Brooks Laich said in early April of the message he delivered. “Like, you guys aren’t going down and going 16-0. You’re going to face a Game 7. You’re going to lose a Game 5 in your barn and face a Game 6 in theirs. Like, that stuff’s coming. It’s coming. But that’s the stuff you’ve got to go through. There’s no other way to acquire that knowledge than to go right through it. So for them, it’s a huge, huge opportunity. I’m going to be watching. I can’t wait.”

“We definitely had a conversation with them on the plane,” added blueliner Morgan Rielly of the Leafs’ youngsters. “They’re great players. They’re going to make a run in the AHL, I’ve got my fingers crossed for them, and I think they’ve got a chance of doing something special.”

Nylander was one of a large number of Leafs up-and-comers who spent most of the season honing their craft with the Marlies, received a longer look with the Leafs after the end-of-February NHL trade deadline, and finished the year strongly before being reassigned to the American League to help the organization win a Calder Cup championship. And make no mistake – they definitely add to a roster stacked with talent.

Indeed, they return to a Marlies team that posted the best regular-season record in franchise history (54-16-5-1) and that will be a target for the rest of the AHL throughout the playoff tournament. And though Nylander and Marlies teammates and Leafs rookies Zach Hyman, Nikita Soshnikov, Connor Brown and others have had playoff experience at different levels, there’s really no comparing what they’ve endured before to what they’re about to experience. Winning four games – let alone four series – with grown men doing their utmost to derail their dreams is no small task, and no amount of teaching or preparation can prepare them for the rigours of this race.

“I think they’re still going through it,” Leafs president Brendan Shanahan said of the learning process for Toronto’s prospects. “It was part of our hope and our plan to bring them up (to the Leafs) at some point for a viewing. Not just for us, but for them as well – for us to see what we had, and for them to see what it takes to be successful up here. But them going back and getting prepared for the playoffs is an important part of their season and their development as well. I think (Marlies head coach) Sheldon Keefe and his staff, and (Marlies GM) Kyle Dubas have done a great job in getting to where they are. Now they’re getting ready for the playoffs, and it’s a whole different challenge, a whole different animal.”

“There’s a great culture that’s being developed there within these young players,” added Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello. “When you’re winners, you find a way to win. And that’s what we hope is going to transpire. But they’re also going to understand that first round is going to be very difficult, and then how they sustain that – they can’t get too high, they can’t get too low. They can’t allow a loss to get in the way, or how you dismiss something in the playoffs. How you recover from things that didn’t go right that night – that’s what it’s all about. That’s what separates winners, and that’s something that you learn how to do. It doesn’t happen overnight. You can’t just be told that you do this. You have to experience it.”

Toronto’s group of blossoming youngsters – which includes forwards Frederik Gauthier, Tobias Lindberg and Kasperi Kapanen, and defensemen Connor Carrick and Rinat Valiev – can look to Laich’s experience as an example of the effect an AHL run can have on a developing player. The 32-year-old, acquired at the deadline from Washington, played 73 games in his rookie campaign in 2005-06, then at the end of the season, with the Caps out of the playoffs, he went to Hershey, where he amassed eight goals and 15 assists in 21 games and was instrumental in the Bears winning it all. And less than two years after that, Laich tripled his goal-scoring output and nearly tripled his rookie-season point total.

As Laich explains it, a player might have championship experience in his formative years, but nothing compares to being on a genuine frontrunner in one of the world’s best leagues, taking on fully-grown men desperate to derail your plans.

“That’s why I think it’s so exciting for the guys to go to the Marlies,” Laich said. “These guys are going to get used to playing when they’re expected to win, when it’s tough, not just chasing a game. Chasing a game is easy. There’s no pressure on you. But playing with a lead, playing structured, playing smart, how everything matters – getting a puck out, not hooking a guy, moving your feet, body position. Everything matters when you’re playing with a lead.

“That’s what I think they’re going to learn with the Marlies, and they’re going to bring that back. And then we have to learn to do that in the NHL.”

When asked to pick out which Leafs youngsters stood out the most for him in his short time with the team, Laich – who experienced a major rebuild with the Capitals – couldn’t narrow it down. In fact, he pointed to Toronto’s diverse collection of talent as one of the organization’s biggest strengths.

“The cool thing I like about our prospects and our younger guys is they’re all different,” Laich said. “You can’t win a championship with 20 William Nylanders. You can’t win with 20 Zach Hymans. You need a blend. Like, I was talking to (Gauthier) the other day and I was like, ‘Man, you don’t realize how important you are to this team, because other guys that maybe get the headlines can’t do what you do. So don’t let that dissuade you. You are a very important part of this team.’ ”

“Quality and quantity, and different types of players,” added Lamoriello when asked what impressed him most about the Leafs’ prospect pool. “I’ve always looked at a team like an orchestra – you need violinists, you need drummers, you need trumpet players, and I think that we’ve got a pretty good set of young musicians.”

If the Leafs’ rising young talents aren’t enough, they’re also winning friends and influencing people because of the quality of their character.

“On top of what Brooks said – we have a good variety, but they’re also very good kids, very good people, and I think that can really go a long way,” Rielly said. “More than anything, we got a chance to get to know them, and I think we’re very pleased with the kind of kids that they are. It’s exciting.”

When the AHL’s regular season ended April 17, Keefe & Co. found themselves with an astonishing amount of talent from which to build the Marlies’ playoff roster. But regardless of the overall look of the team, when Nylander, Hyman, Soshnikov and Toronto’s other burgeoning prospects take the ice in the opening round, they’ll be better players because of their time with the Leafs – and once the post-season ends, they’ll be all the more prepared to contribute meaningful minutes in a long and productive NHL career.

“There’s an old expression in life – you don’t know what experience is until you have it,” Lamoriello said. “They don’t know what it’s like until they experience it.”

Source: Calder Cup playoffs a challenge and opportunity for prospects

Kadri and Rielly signings a commitment to development

From Official Toronto Maple Leafs

When the Maple Leafs began their build in earnest roughly 12 months ago, it was clear that while there was much work to be done, there were pieces in place. On Wednesday morning, the club announced the signing of two of those pieces to six-year contracts — Nazem Kadri and Morgan Rielly.

Over the past season, Kadri and Rielly have gradually moved up the Leafs depth chart from previous years. By the time the 2015-16 season wrapped up, Kadri had spent the majority of the season on the top line matched up against the NHL’s best forward units, while Rielly was logging tough minutes on the club’s top defensive pairing, while playing the penalty kill and power play.

The significance of the long-term commitments to the pair extends well beyond their on-ice play. Both players were first round picks of the club, developed through time in junior and with the American League’s Marlies and have earned their long-term place in the future of the club.

Given the youth movement set to take place in Toronto with players in the American League, collegiate and junior ranks knocking on the door, the club’s front office hopes this story will be a common one moving forward.

“I think it was a message to the commitment of both of them. Timing is everything in life,” said Maple Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello. “To have it happen at the same time maybe even puts the emphasis that we’re going to do things as they come about and continue to reinforce the plan that Brendan has put in place and Mike has certainly put in place.”

“This is just another step towards where we want to be as far as developing the foundation of this franchise.”

Early returns indicate that both players fit the template for what the team would like its style of play to be: Effective in all three zones, quick and possessing a good work rate. Both Kadri and Rielly were given new opportunity under Mike Babcock’s coaching staff in 2015-16 and the strides in their play was obvious. Babcock regularly singled out both players — along with Jake Gardiner — as players who were better than he expected them to be upon his arrival in Toronto, citing their skill level and competitiveness as pleasant surprises.

Now the pair have contracts to match the praise. With that, the focus shifts to building on those strides into the future.

Kadri worked his way up the Maple Leafs depth chart as the 2015-16 season progressed and found himself as the team’s number one centre for the majority of the season. As a player who was challenged by the team’s front office to take a step up one year ago, the early returns have been encouraging.

“I think we’ve seen a lot of growth from him and some real strides and he’s one of the guys I think about when I say — Mike [Babcock] is not necessarily an easy guy to play for every day, you have to be an extremely competitive person just to play for Mike,” said Leafs president Brendan Shanahan. “Nazem Kadri did a great job in that sense. He was extremely competitive for us. That being said, we just have to keep growing.”

While the emphasis is on getting to work and improving in the future, it’s easy to see what has been encouraging about Kadri’s on-ice work. In the early going of his career, Kadri’s possession numbers have graded out nicely relative to his Leafs teammates.

While some of the disparity between Kadri’s underlying numbers and his teammates can be attributed to previous iterations of the Leafs playing a counter-attacking style of hockey, the 25-year-old has consistently performed well under the shot attempt framework when looking at his 5-on-5 play.

This past season, with a Leafs team that fared considerably better under shot attempt measures and started more shifts in the offensive zone than any Leafs team in the past decade, Kadri still came out on the positive side of the ledger.

In 2013-14, the Leafs had 3.7 per cent more shot attempts and 3.1 per cent more scoring chances with Kadri on the ice than without. In 2014-15, those margins increased to 4.5 percent more shot attempts and 5.5 per cent more scoring chances with Kadri on the ice. This past season, under a new head coach and playing the toughest competition he’s faced in his career, the Leafs had 1.3 per cent more shot attempts and 3.8 per cent more scoring chances with Kadri on the ice than without.

In sum, the Maple Leafs have always fared better in the possession battle with Kadri on the ice and, even with a higher team baseline and facing tougher competition, he consistently gave the Leafs a better share of the puck and scoring chances relative to his teammates. As the Leafs continue to build the forward unit over the coming years and the skill level continues to increase, it follows that Kadri’s production would increase and, in turn, his ability to help the team win games will as well.

The measurable and intangible combination of Kadri’s skill, tenacity and ability to get under the skin of opponents makes him a key asset for the club going forward in many different areas.

A growth area to keep an eye on moving forward will be his role on the penalty kill as Coach Babcock has expressed interest in utilizing Kadri’s skill in that realm of the game. As a player whose defensive awareness and work ethic has consistently improved over time, there appears to be a fit for his skillset when the team is down a man.

Similarly, a willingness to accept different roles was cited by Lou Lamoriello as a strength of Kadri in conversation with the media about the new six-year deal. Expect to see him wear many different hats as his time in Toronto progresses over the term of this deal.

For Kadri’s part, he’s excited to take on the upcoming challenges with the team that drafted him.

“There’s been some growing pains but, at the same time, for a young player to play in a market like Toronto is definitely a great opportunity. I think this is the only place to play for me. It’s where my heart is. It’s all I’ve ever known,” said Kadri on Wednesday. “Like I said, there’s going to be growing pains in the future but, at the end of the day, if you continue to get better, that’s what’s important.”

Since he made his debut for the Maple Leafs in 2013, Morgan Rielly has been one of the most exciting players to wear a Maple Leafs uniform over his 236 games. His skating ability ranks among the elite in the NHL, while his hockey sense, vision and ability to shoot the puck have only become more obvious over time.

Despite the clear natural talent Rielly possesses, there have always been questions about his D-zone play. The offensive side of the game is so natural to his skillset that it often glossed over any defensive shortcomings in his game.

In an effort to make him a more complete player, the 2015-16 season saw a challenge issued to Rielly from Mike Babcock and the coaching staff. Rather than the offensive zone starts and power play minutes he had seen in the past, Rielly was leaned on heavily in the defensive zone and on the penalty kill and was partnered primarily Matt Hunwick in an apprenticeship. For much of the season Rielly was left off the power play altogether in an effort to increase the focus on his defensive game.

The choice to focus Rielly’s minutes to be defensive zone was a simple rationale — he doesn’t need to work on improving the side of the game that comes naturally to him. While there were early growing pains he consistently improved. As his play improved and opportunities became available, he earned back those offensive minutes. He finished the season averaging roughly 25 minutes a night — including 2:30 on the penalty kill and 2:40 on the power play — and starting his shifts primarily in the defensive zone.

Despite consistently playing some of the toughest minutes among Leafs blueliners, Rielly was an even possession player for the Maple Leafs down the stretch. Now a considerably more well-rounded player than he was 12 months ago, the Leafs still believe the sky is the limit for Rielly. His new contract is simply proof they want him in the fold for the long term.

“In Morgan’s situation being the defenceman that he is, I think has the potential of being an all-star in this league,” said Lamoriello. “He certainly is the key to our defence. He’s our leader there and, now, being able to get this type of a contract with him, showing him that he is a core player and one who is going to be counted on to lead that, I’m just excited about it and our organization is too.”

Rielly’s possession numbers have taken a hit this year, though much of that can be attributed to his usage. The only player who had a higher percentage of shifts start in the defensive zone for the Maple Leafs this season was his most common partner, Hunwick. Rielly played 51 per cent of his minutes alongside Hunwick — almost exclusively against their opponent’s top line — and the Leafs had 47 per cent of the shot attempts with those two on the ice.

While the apparent drop in the Leafs’ share of possession may be cause for concern for some, there is room for encouragement. In 2015-16, Rielly’s shot attempts against per 60 decreased for a third consecutive season and consistently declined as the season went along. A player with Rielly’s natural skillset — skating, shooting, playmaking — will always be a player capable of sending pucks towards the opposition goal. His key will be ensuring he has the puck on his stick enough and is winning enough puck battles to prevent it from heading towards his goaltender.

Through a season of taking on the League’s best in the toughest parts of the ice, he is showing signs of improvement from years past.

Moving forward, expect Rielly’s responsibility to continually grow. While the 2015-16 season was his first taste of elite competition, the expectation will be that he grows as a shutdown defenceman moving forward. Getting bigger and stronger will certainly give him a better shot of competing against the NHL’s biggest and fastest forwards, as will a growing comfort level within Coach Babcock’s system and the NHL game as a whole. His personal growth coupled with the improvement of the club as a whole should see Rielly mentioned along the League’s best blueliners before long.

A love of the game and hunger to improve — two qualities that are often taken for granted and shouldn’t be — have always been evident in Rielly around the practice rink or on a game night. As the spotlight continues to shine brighter, expect him to be up to the task.

“I think for me I have a long way to go in my career. I think it’s just a matter of trying to get better every day,” said Rielly. “I certainly want to be a player in this league that this team can be proud of. This year I took some steps but I realize I have a long way to, a long way to improve. For me, I’m just looking forward to the challenge. I want to get better and move forward with this team.”

While the “journey has just begun” for the Maple Leafs in the words of Mike Babcock, the team is beginning to forge the identity they want to own for years to come: A fast group that outworks opponents and rarely cedes control of the puck.

Having that identity is easier said than done, but the club has put two pieces in place for the foreseeable future that are in lockstep with that vision. In Kadri they have a versatile, creative forward who has the ability to vex opponents with his tenacity and perseverance. In Rielly they have a defenceman who appears to be cut from template for the defenceman of the future with his speed and skill.

Both players have been challenged in different ways this past year by the Maple Leafs coaching staff and front office. Thus far, both have risen to them. The challenge now for both players will be trying to bring their game to the next level and, as the Maple Leafs continue to build their club, their challenge will be helping them get Kadri and Rielly where they want to go.

“I don’t think they’ve tapped what they can do, that’s my feeling. I think that there is more that they can do, all you have to do is look at the age where they are at and look at what they’ve experienced. There’s no question they have a level that they haven’t reached yet,” said Lamoriello. “It’s going to be up to them to commit to that and do the things that are necessary to get there and it’s up to us to help them do that.”

Source: Kadri and Rielly signings a commitment to development