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Leafs, Mad Men & Curb Your Enthusiasm

by Adnan Virk / Toronto Maple Leafs
LEAFS


My favourite tidbit about coach Ron Wilson is that he's a huge fan of both Mad Men and Curb Your Enthusiasm. In fact, he particularly loved episode two of this season. Perhaps he can bring some levity to a club that’s obviously really fighting it this season.

There’s nowhere to go but up for this club. Joey MacDonald is a nice guy, but clearly, the club can’t be allowing soft goals like he did on that wraparound for the Rangers second goal on Saturday. Mac will likely get the start again this Saturday in Vancouver but Vesa Toskala and his .812 save percentage could be ready for Monday in Anaheim or Jonas Gustavsson, who in limited ice time, has looked to be the most reliable netminder thus far.

RAPTORS

A re-appearance from an old Raptors friend at practice for the next few days. Famed shooting coach Dave Hopla, a friend of Jay Triano’s who was with the team a few years ago, had a break in his schedule and was draining shots from all over the place on Monday, missing only one of over a hundred shots (and no, they weren’t just from the free throw line and layups.) Clearly the issue hasn’t been offence for this Raptors team, but at the same time coach Triano said Hopla isn’t teaching the team anything different but having a new voice preaching the same principles is always a bonus.

Antoine Wright continues to work his way back after banging knees with Andrea Bargnani. At first, it wasn’t deemed all that serious but he had to have the knee drained and a cortisone shot to numb the pain. However, he’s attempting to go all-out this week so he can participate in the team’s final preseason game this Friday. As the club’s best perimeter defender who started over 50 games for the Mavericks last season, his return would be a welcome addition to the club and would further push DeMar DeRozan as the team’s starting shooting guard, which he’s been awarded on a nominal basis.

TFC

Had a nice chat with staunch defensive midfielder Carl Robinson during the Raptors game last Thursday. Robbo was clearly frustrated on how he acquired the injury which has prematurely ended his season but in a tremendous show of class, gave his cleats to the player who injured him after he asked for them. After picking up Julian de Guzman for the same role that Robbo has patrolled for the reds, it’s tough to imagine Carl being back next season. But he’s been a clear-cut winner for this club, on and off the pitch. And how about the work of Brian Edwards? ‘Eddie’ has shown aggressiveness on crosses into the middle and his confidence in picking up the clean sheet versus Real Salt Lake cannot be underestimated. Even if Stefan Frei is healed from his dislocated finger, I wouldn’t be surprised if Chris Cummins opts for Edwards in the must-win finale versus the Red Bulls, which you can see of course on GOL TV Canada. Andi, Lee, Luke, Jason and I will all be a part of the drama on Saturday.

OTHER STUFF ON MY MIND


I'm a huge fan of the Coen Brothers and was ecstatic to see them win an Oscar for the bleakly thrilling No Country for Old Men. Even read the book afterwards and thought it was a faithful adaptation. Fargo, Barton Fink, The Big Lebowski and The Man Who Wasn’t There rank among my favourite films for the Coens inimitable style and quirky storylines. But I have to say I was disappointed with A Serious Man, their latest release which is stars-free after the overblown cast of Burn After Reading. I just found the story of a 1960’s Jewish family in Minnesota tough to relate to and while I appreciate it was a personal piece for Joel and Ethan, I defer to critic Todd McCarthy who wrote in Variety, “this is the kind of movie you get to make after winning an Oscar.” Meaning do whatever you want, because either way it won’t dent your reputation.

Really loving the new single The Fixer from Pearl Jam. Having grown up in the grunge era and still owning Ten and Vs. in my CD collection, it’s a welcome return to form. Also digging the Jay-Z and Alicia Keys ode to New York, Empire state of Mind, which, as the fine writer Jimmy Breslin said in Spike Lee’s underrated Summer of Sam, “it’s the city that I love and hate both equally.”

Still reeling from that epic Game 2 of the Yankees and Angels. I love listening to Joe Buck and Tim McCarver for the last 14 years. After Johnny Damon’s sliding catch in the 10th and Mariano Rivera struck out the next two batters, Buck intoned, “What… a… game.” Perfect. The Yankees have been porous with runners in scoring position, just 3-28, but timely hits from Jeter and A-Rod and fantastic pitching from the high-priced starters and unheralded relief staff have given them the edge. Teixeira for all his defensive prowess, has done nothing offensively. Bobby Abreu after torching the Red Sox with his relentless on base percentage has looked lost in this series against his former mates. Maybe, like Vlady in Game 3, he’s due. Or maybe, as I’m thinking, it’s the Bronx Bombers year.

And standing in the screen behind home plate for Game 3 - I swear it was superagent Scott Boras and Pat Sajak’s doppelganger. Or it actually was Pat, which is mildly shocking. Good to see Kurt Russell and of course Kate Hudson enjoying the game as well.
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