March 17, 2009
It's been a while since we checked in with the 1967 Stanley Cup champions, so it's good to see things are status quo for the Toronto Maple Leafs. They're just bad enough to miss the playoffs and just good enough to screw their lottery chances. Their players are feuding in practice. Their goalie of the future can't handle the AHL.
Mikhail Grabovski and Jason Blake had their second altercation in a month yesterday at Leafs practice down in Tampa Bay, where they face the Lightning tonight. Grabovski, obviously mistaking Blake for a Kostitsyn brother, hit him from behind and sparked a scrum amongst the players. As Blake said: "Here I am, a 10-year vet ... I just don't know what he's trying to do."
Maybe Grabby's bitter about getting jobbed out of hat tricks, despite evidence to the contrary. Although we prefer Far Away Leaf's prediction on the root of the altercation: "Though I can't vouch for the actual reason for the dust up, I would imagine it had something to do with who had the longer scoring drought recently and this didn't make either one of them laugh."
Today, Grabovski made his amends by hugging Blake before a television interview and offering this unintentionally humorous apology:
"I played just a little bit hard," Grabovski said earlier today. "(Blake) is the best player on the team. The next time I will go a little bit slower. ... It's OK. I'm young."
Meanwhile, Justin Pogge stinks. The young goalie is currently toiling in the AHL, and post-deadline call-up restrictions would make his return to Toronto unlikely. That didn't stop Coach Ron Wilson and Ruler Of All He Surveys Brian Burke from openly criticizing the kid's recent play. From the Toronto Sun:
"He has not performed well since he went back to the minors," Wilson said. "He has to play better. ... We're not going to reward him for poor play."
General manager Brian Burke said management still has high hopes for Pogge. "Would I like to have seen him play better? Yes," Burke said this afternoon. "He hasn't actually kicked the door down for another shot (at the NHL). He's been just OK. But we haven't given up on Justin Pogge yet. ... We may have called him up if it wasn't for that stupid asinine Four Callup Rule. That's ridiculous."