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Answering All The Burning Questions

by Mike Ulmer / Toronto Maple Leafs's Mike Ulmer took questions from fans prior to the Leafs vs. Avalanche game.

[Comment From Mike Ulmer]

Send in your questions for me now and check back at 2 p.m., for an answer!

[Comment From jesse chaves]
Antropov Ponikarovsky Stajan for jeff carter

Interesting idea but Antropov is unrestricted and Ponikarovsky isn't a first liner. That more or less Stajan for Richards and I think you know where this is going.

[Comment From Mikeystar]
Hey, I herd Toskala was hampered by some groin injuries this season, is that why the leafs have been resting him so much lately? Could that be attributed to his inconsistency?

Mike. It's really impossible to know. These things are guarded about as zealously as nuclear codes. That said, I have always felt his groin issues were more or less chronic. Just a guess.

[Comment From Alan]
Do you think Toskala deserves all the criticism he's getting this season? He has been playing better of late, but the wins have been far and few.

I don't know that he has gotten that much criticism. His stats (3.29 GAA and .885 save percentage) are as bad as you will find in the league. The only thing we know for sure is that when he had a good team around him, he was  a good goalie. Some guys can transend their team. Some guys can bring their team down. You rarely know and when you do, it's usually in hindsight. Look no further than Andrew Raycroft who is 9-5 in 15 games for Colorado. His stats, 2.71 and .905 are head and shoulders better than last year's numbers.

[Comment From willislr96]
do yo think the maple leafs to play pogge more to get experience

Well, you don't want him getting too much of the kind of experience he encountered in Minnesota. He played very well for the Marlies after he had his debut game for the Leafs. Hopefully, familiar shooters and arenas will allow him to keep building. I don't think he's ready yet and clearly, neither do the Maple Leafs.

[Comment From Vesku88]
Hey Mike you do a great job with the blogs. My question is regarding the goaltending coach. This year our goaltending has been very inconsistent, do you think any of that could be attributed to having a different goalie coach.

Pinning a losing season on a goaltending coach is like arresting the piano player at a house of ill repute.

[Comment From waveman]
Hi Mike, Do you ever get really tired of hearing leaf players say to reporters after a game "well we know we have to play better after a horrible display of hockey? I am a leaf from since the age of 4 and I have heard so many times over and over that very same thing. I do know we are in a re-building mode but shouldnt the players be held accountable for their actions on ice or there lack of? It is painful to watch the games now as a fan I still do but it is not a pretty site to behold as a leaf fan. Hope better years ahead for the leafs. Thanks

Not much I can say to that. Well done.

[Comment From Cory Miriguay]
What do you think about the leafs chances are, in making a deal with Montreal for their prospect P.K Subban??

Cory. It's an interesting thought. The Habs could use a little size up front and maybe some depth on the blue line.   Kubina, Kaberle and Antropov could help substantially. I think it's possible. The feeling in Montreal is that this is the year.

[Comment From Ethan101]
Hey my question is regarding Toskala. We all saw how well he played for us last year. What do you think of his play this year and where he fits into the future plans.

Well, he is certainly not standing out this year. I think he has been adequate. I'm not sure adequate cuts it but there is little hunger out there for a goalie, especially one coming off a season like this one. The short answer is he is all they have untl Pogge matures.

[Comment From Brian]
Mike Keenan mention conditioning a main contributor to the Flames success this year, besides the obvious lack of talent this team has conditioning is another factor on the why Leafs are having so many problems and in my mind they will finish closer to the bottom what are your views ?

Well, it would account for some late-game explosions but the Leafs are inconsistent not because they are out of shape, but because they aren't very good. Conditioning is obviously a major factor, but I think the Leafs are in very good condition. If you gave Toronto Dion Phaneuf and Jarome Iginla, I think the Leafs would look quite a bit fitter.

As much as you would want to take Tavares, I think I would take Hedman. You could partner him with Schenn and have the core of your defence for the next 10 years. Can't lose with either guy, though.

[Comment From Andy From The Annex]
You're Brian Burke and you've managed to land the top pick in the upcoming draft. Do you want Tavares, the offensive genius, or Hedman, to build a potent blue line?

Sorry about that Andy, I answered your question without showing it. Just this one time, everybody look above the question for the answer.

[Comment From Marc]
Rough ride for Pogge on Tuesday. Are the Leafs' expecting him to be their goalie of the future?

Hope would be a better word. The high point of Justin's career was the dozen or so games he played when he came back from his debut. Justin is very athletic and a very good skater. The thinking is that kind of goalie will be at a premium as equipment and padding continues to shrink. It seems to be coming around for him but it will take time, at least this year and probably into the next. If you look at the goalies drafted with him in 2004,  no one is playing right now.

[Comment From Kyle]
Raycroft with a record of 9-5, 2.71 GAA, and save% of .905... Where was this guy in Toronto?

Poorer team with all the attendant off-ice pressures. Nice to see him succeed. Andrew is a fine kid.

[Comment From Smitty]
Does Ian White have a chance to stick with this team? He seems to have the grit Burke would like....

Throw Schenn out of the mix and Ian White has been the best story of the season. The guy doesn't dress for the first 11 games of the season and then he plays forward before being moved back to his familiar spot. White has six goals, 13 points and is a plus-three which is tied for the club lead. Sometimes he plays better than 25 minutes a night. I can't imagine what else he can bring.

He could play on my team anytime.

[Comment From Mickey]
Which Leaf(s) most likely gone by the deadline?

Well, there is no shortage of candidates. As you have read again and again, there are only a few untouchables, Schenn, Nik Kulemin, Anton Stralman and Mikhail Grabovski, Everybody else is probably available, what do you have to lose?

The question, and it's one I can't answer, is how many buyers there are out there. What the Leafs need is for someone to make a bold move early in the day. That would prompt a bunch of suitors to keep pace. In other words, if the San Jose Sharks decide they need a bit more depth up front and deal for Antropov, that could create a ripple effect through the rest of the conference.

[Comment From Mike]
Hey Mike realistically who is our biggest asset we can deal at the deadline and what is the biggest return we can get for that asset

I still think it's Antropov. I know, he hasn't scored in 16 games but I don't think that means much. He is healthy and getting chances and is obviously constricted by the thought of moving. Once you moved, you go back to being the player you were. Jason Blake is problematic. He brings speed and some grit and goal scoring but has three years left on his deal after this one. Ponikarovsky has size but would be a depth guy on a good team. Kaberle and Kubina come with strings attached in the form of no-trade clauses.

[Comment From Hello]
you say ian white can play on your team anytime? which team do you own?

The Ulmer Eagles headquaretered in Stony Plain,  Alberta where I am slowly, slowly, bringing together a team to make an official challenge for the Stanley Cup. But I digress.

[Comment From Guest]
has anyone approched Kaberle yet to talk to him about a possible trade?

Brian Burke has consistently said he will not do so.

[Comment From Kyle]
What are the chances the leafs try to get two first round draft picks, a top 5 and maybe top 10 or 20, the team would be really good from that

It would be wonderful. I would also like to be six-foot-four with a great head of hear and...You get the point.

[Comment From tito]
any chance that we will see Staffan Kronwall this year? What does Wilson think of him?

I have heard Staffan is having a good season. I don't know that it matters what Wilson thinks of him right now. It's about what Greg Gilbert thinks. His is the recommendation that carries the weight.

[Comment From shawn]
Everyone suggests Toskala's stats have been brutal this year, and you don't have to look past the numbers to acknowledge that. Woudn't you agree though logging 4th most minutes in the NHL behind a team like the leafs is going to almost always destroy your numbers? At least for a rebuilding year?

I think you're dead right. That's why assessing him is so problematic.

[Comment From Kyle]
How come the leafs aren't give Chris Didominico a chance this year. He won a gold medal for Canada at the World juniors. He was one of the top scorers there. He should get a chance to play.

Chris is a nice prospect but he is playing junior. I think Chris will eventually need a couple of years in the American League to learn the game and work on his skating.

[Comment From Mike]
Burke shows he likes to bring in players he knows(May) Do you think he will go after the sedin twins in the off-season

What a neat idea. You lose one Swede, you get two.

The Sedins are both 27 and playing very well.

It would probably take about $10 to land them both as I assume they are a package deal. Interesting thought.

Sorry. That was $10 million, not $10 dollars. Really, if you think about it, there is quite a big difference.

[Comment From tito]
Do you think any of the Leafs Goalies from the 90's or 00's will have their numbers honoured: Particularly Potvin or Cujo

Tito. Great question.

Turk Broda and John Bower are the Leafs all-time leading goalies with 302 and 220 wins respectively. Guess who is number three. Felix Potvin with 160 followed by Curtis with 133. Joseph is third all-time in playoff wins. Potvin is fourth. To   me, there is an argument to be made these guys belong in the rafters.

[Comment From Trevor Osborne]
Do you think a guy like spezza could turn the leafs around


Well, he is a superbly skilled player but the complaints about his defense have followed him through his career. He would certainly help the offence but Wilson more than most coaches emphasizes two-way play. There is a reason Jacques Martin played Spezza so sparingly and while he seems to have improved somewhat, the fear is that he would be a liability in his own end.

[Comment From Malcolm]
Do you think cujo might stay in the picture with the Leafs after this season, as maybe a goalie coach??

No. I think he has a wonderful career and this should be it.

[Comment From Brook Flynn]
Mike Ulmer, What do you the the major problem with the Leafs is?

Not to sound like a wise guy but they lack talent. They can't seem to grasp the fundamental precepts of defensive hockey. Their goaltending is questionable. Their kids, Kulemin, Schenn, Grabovski, are too green.   They don't have one player who can consistently change the tenor of a game. Their veterans have seen too much losing and their faster skaters (Dominc Moore, Lee Stempniak, John Mitchell, Ryan Hollweg) aren't gifted scorers.

They struggle to kill penalties. They do not have a team-wide toughness.

Other than that Mrs Lincoln, how was the play?

[Comment From Mike]
Do you think Cliff regrets his last trade as GM of the Buds? and do you see Lee in the longterm plans for the leafs after next season

Stempniak has made little statistical impact on the team. Colaiacovo and Steen are finding new life in St. Louis and I say good for them. I think when you've traded for Doug Gilmour twice you don't worry too much about Carlo Colaiacovo and Alex Steen. Your legacy is pretty well set.

[Comment From Trevor]
It seems as though 90% of the players in the NHL have toronto listed as one of their "dream" teams to play for, but it also seems like once we get a star player here we dont want to keep him.. Do you think we will ever have a Wendel Clarke, Doug Gilmore someone whos heart belongs in the blue in white ever again?

What a wonderful question. I don't know. I can see how it looks right now like it will never happen.

I have to make an aside here.

First, I use a lot of irony when I write these blogs. It makes it fun for   me and hopefully, the reader. I am not being ironic now.

People who ask me these questions make my day.

I love the absolute, unadulterated loyalty people feel for the Toronto Maple Leafs. I love how they use players' first names like Dougie and Wendel. I can feel this  Trevor's  pride in his team.

I wish I knew the answer because if I did, the first thing I would do is tell a guy like Trevor.

I do know that an awful lot of players view this as the greatest city on earth in which to play hockey. That, to me, should stand the organization in good stead.

[Comment From Mark]
I've been hearing rumors that Leafs are after Rick Nash, is that true?

Mark. I am sure they have asked. I am sure everyone else has asked too.

Well, that's it.

Thanks's for a great range of questions. Please forgive the occasional typos, I try to give my answers as quickly as I can so that I can get to more questions.

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