HiR:tb Toots (@warwalker)

For Maple Leafs Annual Buyers: A Welcome

maple leafs annual cover

Maple Street Press' Maple Leafs Annual 2009-2010

I am told that the Maple Leafs Annual is now available in many Chapters Indigo stores.  My Dad picked up his copy in a store in Burlington today.  Other reports via Twitter suggest that copies have been found in places like Wal-Mart elsewhere in the province.

If you’re someone who has already bought a copy of the magazine and you’re a new visitor dropping by this site because you followed the link at the end of my article, thanks for your interest.  PLEASE do me the favour of taking the time to drop me a message in the comments, even if just to let me know you were here.  I’d prefer it, of course, if you wrote a few hundred words about how my article is the best thing since somebody froze up a piece of poo and started whacking it around the frozen pond with a crooked branch, but feel free to berate me instead for whatever flaws you have identified in my article.  I really would like to have a discussion with the readers and get your impressions of what I wrote (even if you don’t do impressions :-), thank you very much, don’t forget to tip your waitress, be sure to try the veal and I’m here all week).  Like many of the contributors to the magazine, I haven’t done this sort of thing before and I am (some would say pathetically so) desperate for feedback on the results.

If you’re interested, you can read other things I’ve written on this site about the Leafs by clicking on this link (well, at least the ones I remembered to tag properly).  I also write about some other things, mostly my life in small-town southern Ontario on a piece of property I call “Juniorvania”.  One of my favourite posts, for example, has to do with the time my riding lawnmower tried to kill me.

If you haven’t yet picked up a copy and are a little bit confused about what the hell I’m talking about (don’t worry, that’s typical around here), the Maple Leafs Annual is a magazine that previews the 2009-2010 hockey season from a Leafs’ fan’s perspective.  The reason I be pimpin’ the magazine – aside from its internal and inherent awesomeness – is that I wrote an article for the thing about the arc of rebuilding franchises and where the Toronto Maple Leafs are on that curve.  Apparently, Maple Stree Press has printed about 50,000 of these things and I would like to ensure, to the greatest extent possible, that precious few of them end up lining birdcages or – worse yet – discarded in an unwanted in a Chapters Indigo stockroom somewhere.

The magazine really is awesome, all kidding aside.  It’s 128 pages of ad-free, full colour analysis, humour, history and fun, all of it devoted to your Toronto Maple Leafs.  It is an excellent way to gear up for the upcoming season, which promises to be an exciting one for Leafs fans (if not necessarily a successful one on the ice) and the key thing about this project is that many of the articles were written by the bloggers of the Barilkosphere –  fans of the team first, knowledgeable and entertaining writers to boot.

6 comments to For Maple Leafs Annual Buyers: A Welcome

  • wendel over mats

    Read your “No Tanks” in the Annual..very impressed.

    It must have been painful keeping the discipline in place to keep referring to the principles throughout the discussion.
    Did you keep an outline, in order to keep the logic intact? Also, how long do you think it took to put it all together?

  • An outline? Surely you jest (and I won’t call you Shirley anymore)!
    All (or at least most) kidding aside, the truth is that fear was the great motivator there. Despite my best intentions, it really wasn’t possible to start writing the piece until mid-July; I wrote what I had to say and then started editing it down. My fist draft was pushing 4500 words long, more than 1000 words over my limit. Obviously, a lot of stuff had to come out altogether or get combined with other ideas to hit my target. I would say I went through 4 or 5 redrafts that way, always focussing on making my point, always being terrified it would make no sense to anyone and in the back of mind wondering whether Maple Street would end up suing me for ruining their magazine.
    The space constraints made it kind of impossible to wander too far off topic. Incidentally, I also found this factor to really limit the amount of humour I could include. I was horrified by the prospect of DGB knocking out an article that was funnier than “Spinal Tap”, and meanwhile I turn in something similar in tone to a second year Russian literature essay.
    All told, I think this took about fifty or sixty hours to write, not including research time.
    Thanks for dropping by & leaving evidence.
    Do you agree with the comparison I made ? One thing that bothered me is not having room to consider whether the Bruins could be considered a (finished) rebuild, keeping in mind they bowed out in the second round last year…

  • wendel over mats

    I really can’t argue against the Bruins comparison…it’s too strongly supported in your argument. What niggling concern I have about all these rebuild scenarios though is: what if all that really matters at the end of the day is goaltending?

    Yes the B’s piled on the depth on the blue line, and made a few sage pickups down the flanks – but maybe its really all about Thomas. If you swapped Vesa for him -suddenly the results would fade and they wouldn’t look so smart in bean town. Similarly, the Habs have gone from young team clearly on the rise to a bust – from my perch solely on the shoulders of poor Carey Price.

    I realize this is a hopelessly simplistic quibble. It would also make for a very sorry excuse for analysis in what I hope will be the second edition of the Annual – in which I look forward to your next effort scribed into the old media.

    I would love to see the excerpts of what ended up on the cutting room floor? I don’t suppose the publisher would mind that?

  • I’ve wondered a lot about the relative worth of goaltending. I’ve seen some pretty strong arguments out there that, conventional wisdom notwithstanding, goaltending is generally over-valued in the popular perception: Gabe Desjardins, for example, has argued persuasively that the difference between an NHL all-star and a fringe goaltender is approximately one goal every other game. There are entire blogs devoted to the concept that the team in front of him generally affects the success a goaltender will experience much more than the other way around. Statistical evidence notwithstanding, I’m not sure I’m ready to completely buy that argument, but it certainly re-inforces my belief that the Vesa’s performance last year (execrable, horrid, bordering on obscene) was probably related to a number of factors that included poor team defence, injury and plain old sub-par play.
    My perception, anecdotal and based on observation only, was that Vesa was victimized on numerous occasions, often repeatedly in the same game, because the Leafs D couldn’t defend against a zone-crossing pass from high in the zone across the center of the ice to the low post area. I’m thinking especially of a few games on a west coast trip to Phoenix, San Jose and L.A. where these goals seemed to come by the dozen. The point, of course, is that even zombie Terry Sawchuk couldn’t stop those ones consistently, and Vesa’s save percentage took an early beating as a result. It’s also true though that (especially later in the year, according to my memory) Vesa was often out of position and badly chasing shooters, sometimes even out of the crease and behind the net. This, you don’t need me to tell you, was bad goaltending. It’s hard to get a sense of which factor was more important.

    I guess at the end of the day I have a difficult time believing that a 1.2% improvement in Thomas’ save percentage from 2007-2008 to 2008-2009 (meaning six fewer goals every five hundred shots against) could have that profound an impact upon the Bruins’ success – and that’s what the numbers show, a 1.2% improvement by Thomas over his previous year’s save percentage. Is it possible that such a small change could take the Bruins from 3rd in their division one year to first in their Conference? From a first-round playoff loser to a bona-fide Cup threat? I am skeptical of that, based on nothing more than my (rather considerable) gut.
    As for the “deleted scenes” from the article, I will try to gather some bits and pieces together and post them later this week, if I can find any snippets that make any actual sense…

  • wendel over mats

    Hey Junior – your new number 1 poster is back!

    After we chatted, I read the following comments from our Lord and Saviour Mr. Burke, wherein he sounds nearly as intimidated by the pivotal role that goalies play in his rebuild as I was. Also, makes me wonder how long he’ll wait this year if Vesa is slow getting out of the blocks?


  • Any Wendel man (or woman, for that matter) is always welcome here.

    Interesting article, I hadn’t read that one before you linked it. I am still thinking about this goaltending stuff. The difficult thing to wrap one’s mind around, I think, is that there seems to be little difference between the best and worst goaltenders according to the statistics we have available to us.
    As I say, my gut instinct is to mistrust any argument that suggests such small varaiances in the available numbers could make such a profound difference to the respective teams’ win/loss outcomes.
    Of course that doesn’t necessarily mean that goaltending is irrelevant; it could just as easily mean that we’re not measuring the important things when it comes to goaltending. Intuitively, that conclusion makes some sense to me, because intutively I believe that it would be better to have Roberto Luongo playing for the Leafs than Justin Pogge.
    I am hoping to learn a little more about the new metrics as this season progresses, and I am particularly interested in delving into whatever the literature has to say about goaltending.
    It’s worth noting, too, that although Burke has indicated he’ll not “go into battle” without goaltending again, that may not necessarily mean he’ll be quick to pull the trigger on Vesa this year. If Toskala starts slow, and Burke decides a change is necessary, he still has to be sure he doesn’t overpay for an immediate replacement. Vesa’s deal is up at the end of the season, so the Leafs have an easy out if Toskala underwhelms, and it’s not like an underachieving Toskala will derail the plans to win a Cup this year. Patience remains the watchword, if you ask me.
    Thanks for the link!