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POSTED ON Wednesday, 18.01.2012 / 12:12 PM
By Matt Iaboni - Mapleleafs.com online producer / Mapleleafs.com Blog


Toronto Maple Leafs President and General Manager Brian Burke was honoured Monday evening with the Ally Award from the PFLAG. Here is his acceptance speech:

I believe that the PFLAG “Ally Award” has great significance, and I was flattered to accept it on Monday night on behalf of the Burke family.  But I hope the day comes, and soon, when this award is retired as obsolete.

A parent’s unconditional love and acceptance of their child is unremarkable, and should be automatic.  It deserves no accolades or praise.  Make no mistake, the hero here was Brendan.  What Brendan did took courage.  Coming out in arguably the most macho of the professional sports.  Now that was worthy of an award.

Most walls in society have been breached or levelled over time.  But not this one – professional sports in North America has no gay presence.  And certainly the NHL does not.  These walls have not been breached, have not been levelled.  Bias, suspicion and prejudice still prevail.  Our goal has to be to continue to level these barriers. 

Great progress has been made.  But much hard work still lies ahead.  Gradual change has been interspersed with radical statements and positions.   Brendan’s lot as a gay man in general was far better than it would have been in 1980.  But the process must continue.  Today, we are talking about battling ignorance, fear and bias.  And I am going to ask everybody to agree to take three steps going forward – and to eliminate homophobia.

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POSTED ON Monday, 16.01.2012 / 4:20 PM
By Matt Iaboni - Mapleleafs.com online producer / Mapleleafs.com Blog


The Maple Leafs will welcome back three players to the lineup Tuesday as they look to rebound from two straight losses over the weekend.
  PROJECTED LINEUP
Forwards
Lupul bozak KESSEL
KULEMIN GRABOVSKI macarthur
lombardi connolly KADRI
crabb STECKEL brown

EXTRAS
rosehill
DEFENSE
GUNNaRsSON phaneuf
gardiner franson
schenn komisarek
aulie
GOALIES
reimer
gustavsson
INJURED
ARMSTRONG boyce
liles

A day after being assigned to the Toronto Marlies, defenceman Jake Gardiner was recalled prior to practice and he will be in the lineup against Ottawa. Ron Wilson didn't say which defenceman will sit out with Gardiner's return. In 37 games this season with the Leafs, Gardiner has recorded 10 assists while averaging 20:32 of ice-time.

"Yeah he is going to play tomorrow night and the Marlies played yesterday and he hadn't played in four so get him a game," Wilson said. "It was best for him to get into a game and play a lot and he played well."

Injured centre Tyler Bozak will be back centering the top line of Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul. Bozak missed the last seven games with an upper body injury. He  has recorded 25 points in 35 games so far this season as he is well on pace to pass his point total from last season.

The final lineup change will take place in net as James Reimer will be making his first start of 2012. Reimer has yet to lose in regulation at home this season. Overall this season, Reimer is 7-4-4 with a 3.01 GAA & .900 SV%.

"He deserves to get back in there," Wilson said. "The time should be good for Reims."

Prior to the Leafs hitting the ice for practice on Monday, Colby Armstrong and John-Michael Liles skated as they work their way back from concussions. There was a bit of bad news Monday as Darryl Boyce did not take part in practice and he will miss tomorrow's game with a minor injury.

Check below from video with Wilson, Bozak, Reimer, Gardiner, Jonas Gustavsson & Cody Franson.









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POSTED ON Friday, 13.01.2012 / 8:04 AM
By Matt Iaboni - Mapleleafs.com online producer / Mapleleafs.com Blog


Starting tonight on #TMLtalk we are looking for the Gold Seal Tweet Of The Night.

Use #TMLtalk during the game to enter for a chance to win Leafs tickets for the game on March 27th against the Carolina Hurricanes. We will be doing the Gold Seal Tweet Of The Night for the next four games. 

We will also be giving away a signed Phil Kessel jersey during two of the upcoming games. If you aren't selected as the winnert, you have another chance on Saturday when the Leafs face the Rangers.

Read the full blog entry

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 11.01.2012 / 2:07 PM
By Matt Iaboni - Mapleleafs.com online producer / Mapleleafs.com Blog


The Maple Leafs took to the ice Wednesday in preparation for the rematch in Buffalo on Friday. It was a quiet day at MasterCard Centre with the Leafs having two days off before their next game.

Forward Tim Connolly did not take part in practice but it was just a maintenance day for the first-line centre. Connolly has five points in his last five games and he will be looking forward to his return to Buffalo. Connolly so far this season is pointless in two games against his former team.

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POSTED ON Monday, 09.01.2012 / 3:59 PM
By Matt Iaboni - Mapleleafs.com online producer / Mapleleafs.com Blog


Following a well-deserved day off, the Maple Leafs were on the ice Monday preparing for the home-and-home against division rival Buffalo which begins the second half of the season.

“We’ve set ourselves up now that with a solid second half we can be in the playoffs and now I think we start striving to be one of the top teams like Boston or New York that are in that top tier,” Joffrey Lupul said.

The Leafs currently sit six points ahead of the Sabres but head coach Ron Wilson realizes that the Leafs need to keep winning to stay ahead other teams, not just Buffalo.

“I wouldn’t be thinking we need to bury Buffalo because you focus on that and a couple of other teams slip by you,” Wilson said. “We just have to get the points ourselves and if we do it against a team chasing us all the better but it’s just the points.”

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POSTED ON Friday, 06.01.2012 / 3:53 PM
By Matt Iaboni - Mapleleafs.com online producer / Mapleleafs.com Blog
Rest easy Leafs Nation.

Dion Phaneuf didn’t suffer a serious injury after taking a puck off the face late in the game against the Winnipeg Jets. The Leafs practiced Friday without their captain but the news was optimistic.

“Dion is resting at home;  there are no breaks or anything like that so we list him as day-to-day but I actually expect him to play tomorrow (Saturday against Detroit),” head coach Ron Wilson said.

After a 22-game absence Mike Brown will be back in the lineup against the Red Wings. The gritty forward will be on a line with Darryl Boyce and David Steckel.

“I’ve been cleared and feel good so I’m ready for tomorrow,” Brown said to a throng of media after practice.

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 04.01.2012 / 4:05 PM
By Matt Iaboni - Mapleleafs.com online producer / Mapleleafs.com Blog


The Maple Leafs were met by 3,000 of their biggest fans Wednesday as the team practiced at Sunnydale Acres Park in Rexdale.

Fans lined up well in advance of the Noon practice with plenty of young school children eagerly waiting to see their local heroes.

The Maple Leafs, Rona and Toronto Parks, Forestry & Recreation unveiled upgrades and refurbishments made to Sunnydale Outdoor Rink as part of their Refurbishment Legacy Program.

"Anytime you get to comeout and practice outdoors it's pretty special," Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf said. "We enjoyed the day, I think it was great the support we had and it shows what kind of fans we got and we have the best fans in the league. To comeout on a day  when it's minus 15 and have this many people out is pretty special to practice in front of."

This is the 30th rink refurbishtment in the history of the MLSE Team Up Foundation.

The rink impressed head coach Ron Wilson.

"It's great for all the kids and the people that come out," Wilson said. "It's great that this neighbourhood gets a rink and this is the best one I've seen so far."

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 28.12.2011 / 5:02 PM
By Matt Iaboni - Mapleleafs.com online producer / Mapleleafs.com Blog
The Maple Leafs had a mid-afternoon practice in Raleigh, North Carolina Wednesday following the 5-3 loss to the Panthers.

The road trip continues Thursday against the Hurricanes with Ron Wilson announcing after practice that James Reimer will be back in net for the Blue and White. This season, Reimer has struggled away from Air Canada Centre posting a 1-3-0 record in six games. He has a 4.26 GAA with a .852 SV%.

With the Leafs in Winnipeg on Saturday, Wilson was asked if Reimer will play the final two games of the trip:

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 21.12.2011 / 3:03 PM
By Matt Iaboni - Mapleleafs.com online producer / Mapleleafs.com Blog


The Maple Leafs had a new face at practice Wednesday as Nazem Kadri was recalled from the Toronto Marlies to take the place of injured forward Phiippe Dupuis who was placed on the injured reserve list.

Kadri practiced on a line with Tim Connolly and Clarke MacArthur as the trio will lineup as a unit against the Buffalo Sabres at Air Canada Centre on Thursday. Kadri has already played three games with the Leafs this season and had one assist. In his 22 games with the Marlies, he has a team-high 22 points.

Speedy and gritty Darryl Boyce will also be in the lineup against the Sabres. Boyce was recalled from the Marlies on Tuesday once Colby Armstrong was placed on IR. Boyce had a very successful stint last season with the Leafs playing in 46 games and recording 13 points along with a plus eight rating. Boyce was one of the main reasons that the Marlies possess a top-ranked penalty-killing unit.

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POSTED ON Monday, 12.12.2011 / 4:28 PM
By Matt Iaboni - Mapleleafs.com online producer / Mapleleafs.com Blog


The Leafs practiced Monday in preparation for Tuesday's game against Carolina. There was lots of work done on the penalty killing as the Leafs have allowed six shorthanded goals in the last two games.

When he was asked about the penalty killing, head coach Ron Wilson discussed what he and his coaches are trying to instill in their players.

"Pressure, where our sticks are, it’s hard to work on shot blocking during practice for obvious reasons but constantly harping about being in shooting lanes," he said.

One area that has hurt the Leafs during penalty kills is not being able to relieve the pressure.

"We need better clears in situations when we don’t get the puck down ice after winning a battle for it and just the theories behind what we are talking about where guys should be and making it a habit," Wilson noted.

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