Maple Leafs Overloading Disrupts Chemistry?

The Maple Leafs have talent, but can they win in the postseason?; AV's future in Philadelphia; and the Avs should fear Vegas!

You can't blame Kyle Dubas for doing what he did. 

The young Leafs major domo simply wants to win Hogtown its first Stanley Cup since 1967.

But is he doing it the right way?

For starters, he was wise during the off-season to realize his team was inconsistent and defensively inept and immature. He addressed all issues.

The then questionable additions of Joe Thornton, Jason Spezza and Wayne Simmonds all were better than expected along with other adds.

As a result the Torontonians ruled the North and enter the homestretch significantly better than Winnipeg, Edmonton and Montreal; with the possible -- probable? -- exception of goaltending.

Yet Dubas loaded up everywhere and then some but "addressed" the sore spot with a second-stringer from Calgary who, by netminding standards, is a wet band-aid.

Kyle's other mistake has to do with chemistry and the very real possibility that all his new additions will disrupt what had been a harmonious outfit. 

"If it ain't broke don't fix it" was a line echoed by many including onetime NHL President John Ziegler. 

With the exception of the man in the crease there was nothing broken about this exceptional lineup except one experienced, dependable goaltender. Jonathan Bernier would have been my choice. Not Dave Rittich.

We'll find out at playoff time whether Dubas did right by his team with a Santa Claus bag full of goodies; but not the one he needed most.

By my way of thinking Mister Leaf had a solid chemistry set that needed a little potassium nitrate added to the mix; not every single item but the right one.


THE JIVE: The Flyers coach was so successful last season it defies credulity to consider the mess his club has become. The amiable French-Canadian won trust as veteran Philly beat man, Wayne Fish noted "with his open communication, detailed preparation and  fairness doling out ice time." No argument there nor has Alain changed. Nor is it his fault that the goaltending duo of Carter Hart and Brian Elliott flip-flopped from dependable to flopperoo. So, what does g.m. Chuck Fletcher do now to protect his name on the wall? The easy way out would be to replace Vigneault. My guess is that Fletch will give Vigneault another shot at fixing the leaks but that will depend on how much Chuck can help in such weak areas as goaltending and defense.


THE JIVE: It's obvious that Denver's favorite hockey team is the best in the West; but not by very much. That Knightly team in Nevada is a darn good runner-up for all the right reasons. Start with coaching and go up and down the line with special attention to the Alex Pietrangelo addition that was a bit of a genius move by g.m. Kelly McCrimmon. But there's a new factor that actually gives Vegas an important edge; goaltending and, more specifically, the manner in which Robin Lehner has zoomed back into the A-1 picture alongside Marc-Andre Fleury. As the astute Steve Ellis writes in The Hockey News, Lehner clearly has recovered from his concussion and is posting smart numbers; such as 7-0-1 in his last eight games and a comfy 1.86 goals against average over that span. "Robin is playing darn good when he needs to," says Solid Steve, "and looks confident again."

(A Lehner-Fleury duet is better than anything the Avs have to offer. That's why Robin's comeback is so meaningful.)


THE JIVE: All signs indicate that Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula have given g.m Kevyn Adams their full support. And now Adams is rebuilding the organization with his latest move being the hiring of Jason Karmanos as assistant g.m. That's the first word from TSN's Darren Dreger, who once again is beating his esteemed "insiders" at rival Sportsnet. Karmanos has a ton of experience dating back to when his dad, Peter, owned the Hurricanes and Jason had a series of jobs working with g.m. Jim Rutherford. Jason also worked with Gentleman Jim in Pittsburgh as well. Sounds like a solid move to me. (That's two straight solid scoops for the Duke of Dreger; the other being his beat on Taylor Hall winding up with the Bruins.)


THE JIVE: Seattle hockey boss Ron Francis believes that patience is a virtue. Hence the Kraken will take its own sweet time before naming its bench head counselor. In an report, Francis revealed that his group already has a "spread sheet" of names. Ron added that while an experienced NHL coach likely would be favored, he's not going to dismiss one who has not run an NHL club. One reason for the delay is the likelihood that current mentors still working will be job hunting in June. The most obvious is John Tortorella whose contract runs out at season's end. 

Another likely contender is Claude Julien, ex-of-the-Habs and the ever-popular Bruce Boudreau. Based on his past comments, Francis figures to have the choice signed up before the end of June.


THE JIVE: Every so often a reporter notices something that seems 

insignificant at a glance yet -- in the end -- has more than superficial importance. So it was when I watched the Sabres captain in his last game this season, returning to the Buffalo bench in obvious discomfort. Once he sat down, Jack began rubbing his neck and twisting his head in such a way to -- hopefully -- make the pain go away. From a tv closeup, it looked as if it might be a slight injury that could wear off overnight or a few days.

Sadly, that's not the case. Eichel is through for the campaign with a herniated disk. Hopefully -- for his sake as well as the Sabres -- he'll return next season in mint condition. (The club advised that no decision has been made whether surgery will be necessary or not.


THE JIVE: By taking out Montreal 4-1 last night at Bell Centre, Darryl Sutter's Flames are more than flickering in the North playoff derby. In this first of five games in the next dozen days, Calgary could seriously wound the Habs post-season chances. This is especially so with Carey Price still sidelined with a lower body injury. His replacement, Jake Allen, is 1-4-0 since subbing for Price in Montreal's last five contests. (They meet again tomorrow and, you can bet, if Calgary wins, the S.O.S. signs will be seen in Habtown in both French and English.)


THE JIVE: The goaltending situation in Boston has been a fascinating study all season. With Tuukka Rask entering the campaign a Vezina Trophy finalist and Jaro Halak a former Jennings Trophy winner, the Beantowners shaped up well between the crease. But that was long ago. Halak has been sidelined with Protocol issues while the recuperating Rask hasn't played since March 23. Tuukka's respite should end tonight when the B's host the Islanders. In the interim, both Hub goalies of the future -- Jeremy Swayman and Dan Vladar -- have performed with Swayman the goalie of the future on Causeway Street. It appears as if Rask's future will be elsewhere -- how about Seattle? -- next season while Halak will be in the "Who Knows?" department. (Bottom Line: Rask's future as a Bruin will be determined by his performances, starting tonight.)

TRIVIA CORNER: Famed (old) Madison Square Garden organist Gladys (Two D's) Goodding played a hit tune for every NHL team when it skated on to MSG ice.

Name the songs she played for Detroit and the Blackhawks.

(See Answer below.)


"I want to be miserable. That makes me happy. In other words, you can't know joy if you don't know sorrow."

-Flyers coach Fred Shero


For Detroit, she played "Pretty Red Wing." For the Blackhawks, "Chicago."