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Posts Tagged ‘Toronto Maple Leafs’

Maple Leafs’ Major League Damage Control

April 10, 2012 Leave a comment

You know things went bad when you have to write an open letter of apology to your fans, your head coach and GM have to call year-end state of the franchise press conferences, and betting sites place odds on players from your team being seen walking out of a brothel. These are the things passed on to me regarding the Toronto Maple Leafs’ woes that I want to share with you today.

First the letter, as seen on the Leafs’ website, signed by the Chairman of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment:

Secondly, Brian Burke & Randy Carlyle’s recent press conference — despite Leafs’ ownership believing in the plan that the team has, Burke stated that they’ll be looking for a new goalie to backup James Reimer (that’s code for: adios, Gustavsson), a top line center (that’s code for Rick Nash), someone to assist Dion Phaneuf in leadership (that could be code for Jarome Iginla), and an extra large order of size and hostility. Wait, what does that leave left over to believe in and not change? Here’s the press conference: http://www.cbc.ca/sports/hockey/nhl/video/#id=2221324322

Lastly, the odds, from GR88.com. I can’t imagine a Toronto Maple Leafs player walking out of a brothel would be good PR for the team, especially after this open letter, but the site has odds on it, and a bunch of others too. Scroll down to see who might make you rich with their legal infidelity! (Phaneuf, right? Lupul? Kadri? Who’d you wager?)

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

ONTARIO’S STANCE ON BROTHELS, PIMPING SPARKS SHOCKWAVES ACROSS CANADA AND DEBATE ABOUT WHAT WILL BE LEGALIZED NEXT

NEW YORK, NY –  A court in Ontario has ruled that brothels and pimping will be legalized in that province sending buzz through the roof in Canada about how far the ruling will spread, and what it means as far as the legalization of other taboo vices.  With fans burning a trail across the internet to their website looking for answers, the fastest growing sportsbook on the web GR88.com posted odds on a number of questions related to this controversial headline!

Analysts at GR88.com posted the following odds on Brothels and Pimping in Ontario:

Odds on which celebs to be seen walking out of brothel:

Any Toronto Maple Leaf player: 10/1

Any NHL player: 5/1

Any Toronto Raptors player: 8/1

Any NBA player: 3/1

Any Toronto Argonauts player: 8/1

Any CFL player: 4/1

Any Ontario provincial minister: 5/1

Any Federal Minister: 3/1

Stephen Harper: 100/1

Mike Myers: 20/1

Jim Carrey: 10/1

Kiefer Sutherland: 3/1

Keanu Reeves: 5/1

Matthew Perry: 12/1

Ryan Gosling: 10/1

Eric McCormack: 12/1

William Shatner: 50/1

Province by province breakdown of odds to approve:

NFLD: 20/1

PEI: 50/1

NS: 40/1

NB: 50/1

QUE: 5/1

MAN: 10/1

SASK: 15/1

AB: 30/1

BC: 3/1

Will the Conservative Federal Gov’t, led by Stephen Harper, pass a new law to stop Ontario from enacting this provincial law within one year from now:

2/3

Odds on what is legalized next in Ontario:

Marijuana 10/1

Publicly removing bandages 15/2

Paying for a 50-cent item using only pennies 15/1

Caffeine in clear or non-dark sodas 5/1

Pretending to practice witchcraft 50/1

More than 3.5 inches of water in a bathtub 15/1

Tree-climbing 3/1

Purple garage doors 10/1

Back-yard clothes lines 5/1

Dragging dead horses down Yonge Street on Sundays 100/1

Sports and Newsworthy Information can be found at:   www.GR88.com

Media Contact:  Charlie Bernard at 646-592-3590 or cbernard@ccbstrategies.com

About GR88.com

GR88.com (pronounced Great Eight dot com) was designed to bring more fun to the online experience, and is focusing on delivering a unique, entertaining and unparalleled experience.

From first class games, massive jackpots, all huge variety of sports & odds, exceptional customer service, VIP rewards, as well as a simple, easy-to-navigate interface, GR88 is committed to providing an entertaining & enjoyable experience for everyone. GR88.com is backed by a highly experienced International team, and is licensed by Olympian Trading Limited BVI which operates under Maltese, Netherlands Antilles and Kahnawake gaming licenses.

**EXCLUSIVE** Rick Nash & Brian Burke secret trade meeting!

February 27, 2012 Leave a comment

The Serenity Now team was able to obtain this exclusive photograph and transcribed conversation of a secret, late-night meeting that took place between Rick Nash and Brian Burke regarding his trade fate.

 

Hockey Talkie:The Monster, The Trap, and The Hit.

November 19, 2011 2 comments

[originally post for www.betonhockey.com on November 15/2011]

With even Marty Turco’s name entering the discussion of future Toronto Maple Leafs’ goaltenders now, at this point, the writing’s gotta be on the wall for Leafs’ goalie, Jonas Gustavsson, wouldn’t you say?

As much as Brian Burke refuses to admit any loss of confidence in “The Monster”, it’s his actions that tell the true story.

Look, I’m sure Jonas was as good as he was scouted to be in the Swedish Elite League.  His last year there, he had a 1.96 GAA.  And he had an intimidating nickname to boot.  So what could go wrong?  What went wrong was the Leafs gambling a goaltender would put up Swedish Elite League numbers in the NHL.  They needed him to be better than Vesa Toskola, Andrew Raycroft, and the rest of the revolving door of past Leaf goaltenders that failed to guide the Buds to the Stanley Cup.  Let’s be honest, he’s been average at best, and has in no way lived up to a moniker as lofty as “The Monster”.  Unless your lack of confidence in him scares you, or you compare him to the creatures from the animated Pixar movie, Monsters, Inc.

For all intents and purposes, Gustavsson should be the Leafs starting goaltender right now.  He’s 27 years old, and into his third NHL season.  I’ll give him credit, he did outlive 34 year old, former Conn Smythe Trophy winner, J.S. Giguere.  But with the emergence of 23 year old James Reimer on the scene, Gustavsson was again shuffled to a secondary role.  And with Reimer hurt, the Leafs elected not to give the reigns to Gustavsson, but to bring up 25 year old Ben Scrivens, who has basically been rendering Jonas obsolete altogether.  How many times does Jonas have to give way to other, younger goaltenders before even he realizes his lifespan in Toronto is limited?  Either the Leafs enjoy having 1.4 million dollars inactively sit on the bench, they’re too proud to admit a mistake and trade him, or are going to try and “show him off” in limited activity this year, in order to reclaim some value from him at the end of the year when his contract expires.

Whatever the scenario, I wouldn’t bet on Gustavsson being a Toronto Maple Leaf past this season.

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Some thoughts on the Philadelphia Flyers/Tampa Bay Lightning “stalemate”.

Tampa Bay was playing a system – “The Trap”, if you will.  Philadelphia realized this, and countered the system that relies on an active breakout to breakdown, by being completely passive.  Which is intelligent; some might even say smart.  But most are saying it’s boring, and bad for business.  And to Tampa’s credit, that’s one heck of an effective system, if you can make it work.  Both teams were simply trying to win the game (Tampa did), or at least not lose it.  Philadelphia later showed they could break the trap, and the game went on, but for 2 minutes of play there, it was pandemonium at NHL headquarters.

Here’s the thing: the new NHL is all about speed, scoring, and doing everything at a million miles an hour.  So while what both teams were doing were fantastic moves from a strategic we’re-trying-to-win-the-game standpoint, they are horrendous channel-changing deal-breakers to casual southern American hockey fans tuning in to hopefully see a hybrid-blend of boxing and NASCAR on ice.

If there was ever a more poignant example of the fact that the NHL is trying to run an entertainment business rather than a sports league, I can’t think of it.  It’s like Gary Bettman got scared NBC was going to back out of their freshly signed 10-year broadcasting deal if they saw that game.  We are now at the point where NHL higher-ups are going to have conversations about making rule changes in order to negate coaches ability to implement solid game strategies.  It’s no longer about winning folks, it’s about presenting an entertaining product.  I can’t think of one reason why a true hockey fan should be happy about this development.

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And finally, the Buffalo Sabres are officially the largest collective of gutless cowards on the planet.  Their all-star goaltender, Ryan Miller, got run by Milan Lucic, and not one Sabre players did anything of consequence to him.  I’d be generous to say that Thomas Vanek and Andrej Sekera both gave him mild bodychecks.  Announcers said during the broadcast that the Sabres didn’t have anyone tough on the ice at the time to respond, but the hit took place with 6 minutes left in the FIRST period.  That means there were 46 other minutes worth of hockey for at least one of the Sabres to grow a set and attempt subtract a few incisors from Lucic’s mouth.  This is the EXACT instance where fighting in hockey is required.  Of anyone who supports fighting and hockey, they would all agree, this is the prime example of where it is justified.  The Sabres absolutely embarrassingly failed to do the right thing, and they got walked all over the rest of the night.  Their goaltender is out with a concussion, and if Buffalo’s mentality doesn’t change, I’d bet they’re going to get walked on the rest of the season too.

Even minor leaguers knows that if someone punks your team out, it’s not necessarily how you do or how tough you are, but that at least you do something; as evidenced by this vid of Justin Bourne dropping the mitts with a player that had just knee’d his teammate in an ECHL game a few years back: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yfvWdS6MAU

Every player in hockey knows this is the norm, and it’s astonishing that Buffalo didn’t do a SINGLE thing immediately, or for the duration of the game. Boston will likely continue punking teams out because they have guys who can, will, and that get away with it; and teams like Buffalo that continue to not at least take the punk test will continue to fail it and get walked all over.

Schwartzel Taps His Inner Seinfeld For Masters Win, Tiger Loses Again, Norm MacDonald, and Hockey Quips.

April 10, 2011 2 comments

Shameless self-promotion: I had my latest newspaper article published; did you pick up a copy of The View on Friday? Click here to read it online if you don’t get the paper. Also, follow @LakeCountryBB and @BlackbeltsLCF on Twitter.

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Sorry if this throws you off, but I’ve got a few golf comments to make. I watched the final round of The Masters today, something I didn’t think I was capable of doing. A big part of making it tolerable was listening to Norm MacDonald’s “Norm Cast” running commentary of the event, and even getting one of my tweets read on the air live by Norm.  You should follow Norm on Twitter @normmacdonald and @normsportsshow , and check out the website.

The tweet I got read was, “If Tiger Woods wins the Masters today, expect Michael Vick level forgiveness of transgressions from the masses.” Valiantly try as he might, Tiger did not win. Charl (es?) Schwartzel did wins The Masters, and subsequently lifted the “Seinfeld Curse”(dubbed by Norm and company, as Charl has a striking resemblance to Jerry Seinfeld, facially). So I guess this means Tiger is still a dirty man-whore. How slutty do you think Tiger was over the weekend to play as well as he did? Also, do you think Tiger Woods was rattled that Lee Westwood’s wore his same red shirt, black hat/pants/shoes setup for Masters Sunday? That’s Tiger’s Sunday getup, Lee, everybody knows this.

I felt painfully bad for Rory Mcilroy, watching his Masters-sized meltdown. Guy was leading until he hit a shot onto some guy’s front lawn (who has a house on Augusta, btw?), and basically collapsed from there. Had a chance to be the youngest guy since Tiger to win the Masters, and then he BA-lew it.

I was closet-cheering for South Korea’s KJ Choi to win, and he was in the hunt. I bet KJ Choi played a lot of screen golf in Korea as a youngster. Only people who have lived in Korea will understand that comment. Basically, screen golf is virtual golf; and most Koreans play it instead of real golf because there are very few real golf courses in Korea as there’s very little previously undeveloped land to build them on, and the ones that exist are extremely expensive and exclusive. I am a little surprised Jinro Soju isn’t KJ Choi’s major sponsor (another Korean inside joke, sorry). SK Telecom must’ve won a screen golf bet for his rights.

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So the last place Edmonton Oilers beat the Canucks back to back before the end of the NHL regular season? Can anyone else feel Vancouver’s first round slipping out of their hands?

Vancouver’s Raffi Torres’ hit on Edmonton’s Jordan Eberle seemed like a classic tall guy’s elbow naturally falling at short guy’s head level. Clean hit if Raffi got lower. I honestly thought it was a good, hard, borderline clean hit. The Chara-Pacioretty thing has every call on eggshells, and discipline is expected everytime someone goes down. I think Torres said it best himself, saying he was just finishing his hit, and if he hadn’t he probably wouldn’t be seeing much more ice. I like Eberle, but if players can’t hit, the NHL turn into touch hockey before we know it.

I’m happy that my LA Kings won’t be facing Vancouver in the first round of the playoffs, especially now that they are without Anze Kopitar. I’m also happy that Vancouver will be meeting Chicago in the first round. I’m a casual fan, and I don’t invest my entire existence into my hockey team, nor their playoff hopes. If LA doesn’t win, no big deal. However, for Canucks fans, if Vancouver bows out early yet again, look out innocent civilians residing in the lower mainland of BC….

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Rookie Jeff Skinner of the Carolina Hurricanes and seasoned veteran Ilya Kovalchuk of the New Jersey Devils both have 30 goals this year. The difference between them? $97.3 million in salary. That seems fair. Oh, Jacques Lemaire just retired again, and Brodeur sucks now? New Jersey is in trouble going forward. Jeff Skinner on the other hand, not so much. Calder?

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Martin St. Louis sure is content using those obscenely yellow Easton sticks, isn’t he?

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I have a hunch that more NHL players are going after Gordie Howe hat tricks on purpose and as a real stat these days. Not that I mind.

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I enjoyed Toronto’s late playoff push. I love how mad so many people would have been if they got in. I think the Leafs have a lot to look forward to next season, as long as Brian Burke doesn’t Niemi/Halak his #1 goalie and trade James Reimer in the off-season, in favour of backing Giguere or Gustavsson (who is anything but a monster. Unless he’s one from Monsters, Inc).

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And finally, Cory Clouston gets tossed out of Ottawa. After getting the worst out of every good player Ottawa had under his regime, feuding with Dany Heatley to the point of a no-trade clause waiving trade, and finishing nearly last in the league over and over, how did it take this long for this to happen?

Hockey Talkie: Brodeur, Byfuglien for Norris, HBO 24/7, Sutters, Spengler, Waffles, & The DiPietro Deficiency.

December 29, 2010 15 comments

Could the New Jersey Devils’ situation be any worse? Dead last in the entire league (as of Dec 28/10), their bazillion-dollar signee, Ilya Kovalchuk sucks, and their former best-goalie-in-the-world is anything but, often injured lately, and having a tough time doing the most important thing about the goaltending position job description – stopping pucks. You gotta think Martin Brodeur is, at least, contemplating retirement at this point. No disrespect to him, but I mean he’s won everything for a goalie to win (3 Stanley Cups, Olympic Gold twice, 4 Vezina’s, multiple All-Star selections; holds 20 NHL records, including most wins, shutouts, most games and minutes played, even scored a game-winning goal).  But really, at this point, what is the purpose in him hanging around, especially when he’s  now playing for the worst team in the league? After all his accomplishments, it’d be a shame to see him fizzle out and get Chelios’ed in his remaining time.

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secretly, NYI owner Charles Wang was trying to get the NHL to outlaw outlandish contracts all along.

Speaking of bad teams, how many more stints on the IR for Rick DiPietro until the New York Islanders decide buying out the remaining 11 years on his contract is actually the better option?  Tough for the Isles to get the most bang for their $67 million bucks out of a constantly injured goalie who hasn’t played an entire season since around the time he signed that contract. 

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Dustin Byfuglien’s the early favourite for the Norris Trophy, no? He’s 13th in league scoring as I write this, and there is not another defenceman on the list until Nicklas Lidstrom at 26th. He’s even got more points than Ryan Getzlaf, Eric Staal, Alexander Semin, Jarome Iginla, Jonathan Toews, Dany Heatley, Evgeni Malkin, Teemu Selanne, Joe Thornton, Martin Havlat, Rick Nash, and Patrick Kane, to name a few. To be fair, he is currently 65th in +/- rankings, which may or may not be a more important measure of a defenceman’s worth, depending on who you are. He’s still got my vote, for now.

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Like many of you hockey folks, I’m loving the HBO 24/7 Penguins/Capitals Road To The Winter Classic miniseries. I know lots of people are talking about it, so I’ll try to raise a few points that aren’t being beat to death, too badly.

One – Bruce Boudreau has been getting a lot of heat for his constant cussing in the dressing room and on the bench. My response to this is that the only people balking at this have to be people who are either over-sensitive, or just have never been in a hockey dressing room before; because, and I hate to break it to the weak at heart, but that’s exactly the way hockey dressing rooms and coaches are during the game. They get frustrated when things don’t go right, and when you’re as emotionally invested in the game and the success of the team as a coach has to be, f-bombs begin to flourish, especially in a slumping team situation. Personally, I love the fact that he’s not pulling any punches or walking on egg-shells just because there’s cameras around him all the time.

Two – I love seeing that NHL players are pretty much like every other hockey player that plays on every other team in the world and every other level (minus the skill level and multi-million dollar contracts, of course). It should be pretty obvious, since they all came up through all the same developmental leagues that all other players do to get where they are, but there’s something humanizing about seeing a teammates pulling hotel pranks on each other during road-trips, coaches telling players to “pack up your stuff so we can get the f— outta here” after a road loss, generally being jokers off the ice, and then really dialling in their serious side when it’s time to perform on the ice.

Three – as cool as this build-up to the Winter Classic has been, and as amazing as that game will be, this kind of TV series is tailor-made to a Stanley Cup Finals showdown, is it not? I know the big sell is the Crosby-Ovechkin matchup for American viewers by the networks, but isn’t the confrontation for the Cup, aka the biggest prize in the sport, even easier for fans to invest their advertisement-susceptible eyes to, compared to a gimmicky mid-season outdoor game?

And further, isn’t it a testimony to how unnecessary it is to advertise hockey in Canada that, compared to the Winter Classic media blitzkrieg, there has barely been a mention of the upcoming Heritage Classic outdoor game between Calgary and Montreal? You mean to tell me the mention of Jarome Iginla vs Josh Gorges isn’t enough to put butts in seats, and eyes on TV’s?

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Even though I’m an avid Calgary Flames hater, it’s unfortunate to see Darryl Sutter “resign” as team GM, after team CEO Ken King asked him too.  Seems like an either-quit-or-you’re-fired face-saving situation for Sutter; which, if you’re going to publicly announce that you ask a guy to quit, you might as well just fire him.  I don’t support Flames success, but I have to admit, Sutter has been the only guy to get any out of that organization in recent history, including brother/head coach  Brent, who barely batted an eyelash at the situation, citing his family’s unparalleled ability to separate family from business.  Man, that’s got to be an awkward family to be around at Christmas.

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I love the Spengler Cup.  I wish it could be rescheduled so it actually got some coverage, instead of being overshadowed by the WJC.  With personnel like Mark Messier coaching, Hockey Canada obviously supports the team; why aren’t they allowed to sport the official Hockey Canada jerseys like every other legit Canadian team representing Canada in international play?  Surely HC just doesn’t want to desecrate the uniform with all those euro ads, right?

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a little suspicious that this rink guy has an entire box of Eggo’s….

And finally, I’m loving the waffles being thrown on the ice at Toronto Maple Leafs games. It’s just such an amusing item to throw. It causes a delay of the game, bla bla… some one could get hurt, yadda yadda… let’s be honest, if the Leafs keep sucking, and Kessel keeps not scoring, they’ll be thanking their lucky lifetime season-ticket holders that something as soft (and delicious) as waffles is all that’s being thrown on the ice.

Sports Shorts: Brian Burke Getting Trump-ed, Hometown Hockey Allegiances Query, Basketball Beaks, Marion Jones, and more.

December 1, 2010 5 comments

Sometimes while watching late-night hockey highlights, I’ll zone out and come to again right in the middle of NBA highlights.  As I shake the cobwebs, it’s always a mad dash to get that channel changed asap to something more worthy of my attention (so, pretty much anything else on any other channel, except more NBA highlights).  So, here are some recent sports observations…

Does Brian Burke not ever have 5 minutes to comb his hair and freshen up?  Can we give this guy a 10 minute break for a shower so he can clean up and make himself presentable?  I know it’s a hair-tearing-out environment in Toronto these days, but come on Burkey, you’re getting a little Donald Trump-ish.  I’m sure the potential pending sale of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment isn’t helping either. 

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So the Canucks were the heavy pre-season prediction favourite to win the Stanley Cup, then they lost a few, won a few, lost a few more, and now the discussion is that this may be Alain Vigneault’s last season as Canucks coach if they don’t deliver.  Oh, predictable Vancouver bandwagon dumpings…

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If a team moves, and then a new team starts in the same city, should fans cheer for the team that used to be there (which is inherently the same group of people that left), or stay true to the city and cheer for the new one?  Example: Atlanta Flames move to Calgary, become the Calgary Flames.  Atlanta eventually incarnates the Thrashers; so should those original Atlanta Flames fans now return to the homeland and cheer for the Thrashers, or are they justified in staying Calgary fans?  Same scenario in Minnesota (North Stars to Dallas, Wild now in Minny), and Colorado (Rockies to NJ in ’82, Avalanche sprout up) in recent history.

Mitch Pollock is the inspiration for the "Mitch Pollock Made Me Hate The Calgary Flames" facebook group.

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Based purely on talent and consistency, the Detroit Red Wings are the most overall dominant team of the modern age of hockey, agreed?  From the Yzerman and Federov era to the current Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Franzen et al generation, all mixed in with a handful of Stanley Cup wins, it’s tough to argue this isn’t hockey’s version of the New York Yankees.

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The people who broke into Pat Burns’ widow’s car and stole his stuff booked themselves a one-way, non-refundable ticket to hell, did they not?  I’m still rattled at the Hall of Fame that they couldn’t do that guy the favour of waiving his mandatory waiting period or whatever so he could enter the Hall of Fame WHILE HE WAS ALIVE.  3 Jack Adams Trophies for coach of the year honors (on three different teams), and a Stanley Cup; are there deeper pre-requisites for HOF entrance? 

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I recently saw Marion Jones’ ESPN 30 for 30 special… does it say more about Marion Jones and her athletic ability that she walked on to a WNBA with very little previous basketball experience (played with UNC); or less about the WNBA, a league that is supposed to boast the best female basketball players in the world, yet people can just walk on and make their teams, as Jones has done with the Tulsa Shock?

Did Eberle Score the Best First Goal Ever? Counting Down My Top 5 NHL Lead-off Snipes.

October 29, 2010 7 comments

In honour of the 2010 #1 Overall NHL draft pick, the Edmonton Oilers’  Taylor Hall FINALLY scoring his first goal, I decided to look into some of the best all-time first NHL goals ever scored.  Unfortunately for Taylor, he didn’t make the list.  His teammate, Jordan Eberle did though [hint: he’s at the top of the list, and my pick for the Calder Trophy this year/lead all rookies in scoring].  Keep in mind that these are not ranked as the best goals these players have scored, they are only the best first NHL goals scored by players.  Also, there are only 5, and the only ones I could post video evidence of.  I have a feeling I’ve missed some good ones ( I can’t find Gretzky’s, and a whole bunch of others that I assume scored beauts), so feel free to chime in with some suggestions/corrections, but be advised, you have to defend your pick with video evidence 🙂  Please take the poll after you peruse the evidence and vote for your favorite, or specifiy an alternative!

So without further adieu, here’s how I’ve ranked the NHL’s best firsts, starting at the top:

1)  Jordan Eberle toe-drag (ala announcer…”FROM FOREHAND TO BACKHAND!”):

2)  Anze Kopitar OMG:

3)  Mario Lemieux breakaway bury on the first shot of his first shift:

4)  Jonathan Toews snipe:

5)  Tyler Bozak dangle:

*honorable mention for situational awesomeness* Danny Syvret scoring in the Winter Classic:

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