Pension Plan Puppets: June 2007

Every Leafs fan has an opinion. Here's mine: We are all Pension Plan Puppets. The Teachers pull the strings and we dance.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Cap Relief

The league has announced the cap figure for the 2007-2008 season and the Leafs suddenly have a bit more wiggle room. The cap will be set at $50.3M which, based on Bitter's cap work, leaves the Leafs (is that still considered clever by the anti-Leafs brigade?) with $4,964,672 under the cap.

You'll notice a few things from looking at the roster. First, is that the Leafs are already at 20 players that could be on the big club's roster. The second is that $4.97M doesn't seem like enough to land the big free agent. However, with some clever moves they could be able to free up some more cap space.

The team won't be carrying 8 defencemen. They'll be carrying 7 defencemen and the bane of my existence (swingman Wade Belak) who, while hilarious, tends to bring the humour to the ice. In terms of dream moves, the Leafs would move White to the Marlies and save $850K dollars of salary. That brings us up to $5.72M of cap space available. Even with Woz out of the picture the Leafs would still have an extra $463K to offer.

Of course, that is a pretty basic scenario involving just putting salary on the Marlies. There are innumerable trade rumours (McCabe to the Isles?) that could also free-up a lot of cash. I am sure that waiver considerations will come into play but the Leafs have a change to figure in the UFA frenzy that was not possible with a $48M cap.

I'll be back Tuesday to rehash the Leafs' moves (non-moves?). It should be a wild weekend.


Thursday, June 28, 2007

Mind Boggling

The big news around the NHL is that Balsillie will not be sold the Nashville Predators. Instead, Leipold will be selling to "Boots" DelBiaggio (who has absolutely no connections to the mob) so that he can move the club to Kansas City and their brand new arena. Will no one rid me of this meddlesome commissioner? Seriously, why does he hate hockey and Canada? I guess Jimmy can buy the team from Boots in about 5 years once it's losing money hand over fist in yet another non-hockey market.

The bright side is that all of the apostate Leaf fans that declared their allegiance to the team that never was are left with nothing to do but wait for their ticket deposits to be returned. If you are one of those don't pretend to cheer for the Leafs. Slink over to the sens and join that bandwagon.

In other insane news, I haven't found written confirmation but word on the Sportsnet ticker last night was that the result of the MLSE board meeting today will be that JFJ will NOT be offered a contract extension until next year when they see how the team is doing. This is why the Leafs have not won a cup in 40 years. If they weren't sure that Ferguson was the man then why let him run TWO drafts, TWO trade deadlines, and TWO free agency periods? And why tell him that his third time around better be the charm or he'll get fired? Why not fire him when you first had doubts?

I pray for the day of a single owner. Peddie and Tanenbaum and the rest of the board are absolute idiots. The Leafs could have had Scotty Bowman running the hockey operation but Peddie would not let him fire Junior. Why were they able to admit that they were clueless about basketball but they can't make the same admission about hockey? You guys are great at business but stay the hell away from the sports franchises. Look at how you guys let Mo Johnston run Toronto FC without interference. Please stop meddling!

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National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)

This is a new Monday feature that I will be putting up every Monday. It's brought to you by National Lampoon and it's a funny look at the world of sports. Let me know if you guys enjoy it.

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Written by Steve Hofstetter, Adam Hofstetter, Cody Marley, Ryan Murphy, Rich Ragains, Elliot Steingart, and Chris Strait

Congratulations to Jeff Gordon and his wife on their new daughter Ella. Ella will be sponsored by Dupont.

The NBA's Paul Pierce and Austin Powers star Verne Troyer got into an argument after Pierce addressed Troyer as "Mini Me." Luckily it was just a small argument, and ended shortly.

LeBron James has been appointed commissioner of The Bubblicious Ultimate Bubble Blowing League. Because no one knows more about having a bubble burst than LeBron James.

The NHL is hoping that new league wide uniforms will help boost interest in the sport. All five people watching on Versus will really appreciate the effort.

Many baseball fans are still talking about Sammy Sosa hitting his 600th career homerun. Enough already – put a cork in it. Congratulations Sammy – to think how many empty wine bottles that must have taken.

Texas Rangers owner Tom Hicks suspects that two-time AL MVP Juan Gonzalez may have used steroids. Hicks also suspects that the earth may indeed orbit around the sun.

A monkey will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before an upcoming game at Fenway Park. She'll be the hairiest creature to take the mound in Boston since David Wells.

And a woman spent one million dollars on a conman pretending to be Pedro Martinez. The man was proven to be a fraud when it was discovered he could pitch.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)

This is a new Monday feature that I will be putting up every Monday. It's brought to you by National Lampoon and it's a funny look at the world of sports. Let me know if you guys enjoy it.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Written by Steve Hofstetter, Adam Hofstetter, Cody Marley, Ryan Murphy, Rich Ragains, Elliot Steingart, and Chris Strait

Three-time boxing champion James Toney has tested positive for steroids. Officials became suspicious when his head couldn't fit through the ropes.

USA Today reported that 48% of Americans have played organized basketball, and the rest have played for the Knicks. The paper also reported that 1% of French athletes 11-years-old and under have already used performance enhancing drugs. The others just drink wine like they're supposed to.

Enrique Iglesias just released a new album entitled "Insomniac." If you shared a bed with Anna Kournikova, you wouldn't want to sleep much either.

Dikembe Mutombo, Edgar Martinez and Kyle Petty were inducted to Boise, Idaho's World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame. Most overheard comment? "You've got a funny accent."

Speaking of humanitarians, Cavs forward Ira Newble recently met with 15 Darfur refugees living in Cleveland. That's the first time anyone has ever been excited to move to Cleveland.

Washington Redskins rookie LaRon Landry was unable to practice after being shot in the groin with a paintball. Too bad he didn't get shot in a less sensitive part of his body, like his head.

The Yankees made history by signing two 19-year-old players from China's baseball association. It was mainly historical because the Yankees signed pitchers that weren't close to retirement. The Yankees were hoping to get another 38-year-old, but two 19-year-olds will do.

And speaking of young, Tampa Bay outfielder Elijah Dukes is in trouble again, this time for impregnating the 17-year-old foster daughter of one of his relatives. Dukes swears she looked 18 – which would make her the 18-year-old foster daughter of one of his relatives. And that's TOTALLY okay.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit


Friday, June 22, 2007

Blockbuster Move

Well, looks like JFJ grew a pair sometime between his repeated affirmative statements about Andrew Raycroft and today as he made a big splash on Draft Day. The Leafs will trade their 2007 First and Second Round picks as well as a 2009 Fourth Round pick for goaltender Vesa Toskala and forward Mark Bell. Note: The first round pick is set for 2007, but if the player the Sharks want isn't available, San Jose has the option to move the pick to 2008 with a top 10 protection covering the Leafs. That means if Toronto's 2008 pick is a top 10 pick then it will slide to 2009.

In a repeat of last year's move JFJ picked up a potential # 1 goalie who he will probably sign to a new contract in the next couple of months. The saying 'fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice...well you won't fool me again' (Thanks Dubya) comes to mind. If Toskala doesn't pan out then it HAS to be JFJ's last chance. Right?

Anyway, this draft has been labelled a weak draft by everyone involved in hockey. Giving up the picks could hurt the Leafs down the road but the odds are more likely that they won't. Scratch that, knowing the Leafs the 13th pick is going to be a Hall of Famer.

Here's a look at some work from Hockey Numbers looking at the save percentages of Toskala and Raycroft (left and right respectively) based on shot location:

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That's easy, Toskala is better in 3 of 4 areas. That was shot location on the ice and now is shot location on the goalie:

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Looks like we traded a goalie with a glovehand problem for one with a stick side weakness. Toskala is again the better overall goalie. There is no doubt that this is an improvement in net for the Leafs. The interesting thing will be to see how Raycroft reacts to the trade. He can either pout and leave (like in Boston) or he can man up and challenge Toskala (please).

Mark Bell will be a good addition to the Leafs' second or third line. He is in the second year of a 3 year $6.5M contract. He is coming off a weak year with San Jose but previously he had years of 45 and 48 points on terrible Blackhawk teams so hopefully all he needs is a change of scenery.

I'll put a post together on what I think that this means cap-wise over the weekend but the Leafs are a much improved team in the present. The long-term effects will probably be devastating if only because that's what it's like to be a Leafs fan but right now I am happy.

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Now that the Leafs are part of the hockey news again I will end my hibernation since the end of the Leafs' season.

It's Draft Day in Columbus and the Leafs are getting some work done. They signed Carlo to a 3-year extension at $1.283 which is about $400K more than he had to receive in a qualifying offer as an RFA so Mats' unselfish contract has already paid off.

The most interesting part of the article came near the end though:
The Leafs now have eight defencemen under contract including Marlie Staffan Kronwall who's expected to crack the Leafs lineup.
That means that a spot has to open up in the top 6 of Kaberle-Kubina, McCabe-Carlo, White-Gill. In terms of who would make way for Kronwall I would have to say it would be either Kubina, McCabe or (please God) White.

The former pair would have to be moved via trade and the latter could just be sent to the Marlies to learn a backhand and that being hit won't actually kill you. Considering the following:
"We're looking to get better in goal. We'd like to have a tandem that can push each other and create a little more healthy internal competition and ultimately better results on the ice in goal,"
the rumours are rampant as to how Kubina or McCabe could fetch a goalie with the names of Manny Fernandez, Ilya Bryzgalov, and Vesa Toskala all being bandied about.

Add in the fact that the Leafs have a chance at a very good player at 13th and today could go a long way towards getting the team back as a fixture in the playoffs.

There is a rumour rampant that the Leafs are going to trade their 13th pick for Vesa Toskala conditional on them being able to sign him long-term. He will be entering the last year of a 2 year extension worth $2.75M per season. Please God. Let this happen.

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Thursday, June 14, 2007


Huge thanks to Mirtle for the heads up about the NHL Awards looking for seat fillers for the awards show on Thursday night. Yours truly will be in the crowd filling in whenever someone accepts an award, goes to the bathroom, or just doesn't show up. Hopefully I am sitting beside some UFAs so that I can spend the entire show convincing them to sign in Toronto. Failing that, I'd love to sit beside Lauren Pronger and get the real scoop.

Unfortunately, I can only take pictures before the show and without a flash so I am not sure if I'll be able to get anything but I'll try my best to catch some of the red carpet action. And by catch the action I mean look like I am someone important to try to trick some puck bunnies.

Oh, and Mats' deal is good for the price and the flexibility it gives the Leafs. Look for Iginla to be wearing blue and white next summer if Mats heads back to Sweden or if Iron Mike goes postal.