Posts Tagged ‘Toronto Maple Leafs’

Jim Pappin, the former NHL forward credited with the Toronto Maple Leafs’ last Stanley Cup-winning goal, has died. He was 82.

The Maple Leafs and Chicago Blackhawks announced the death Wednesday on social media.

“We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Jim Pappin,” the Maple Leafs said. “Jim played five seasons in Toronto, winning the Stanley Cup in 1964 & ’67. Named one of the 100 Greatest Leafs, he scored the Cup-winning goal and led the team in scoring in ’67. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.”

Later, the Blackhawks said: “The ‘P’ in the MPH Line tallied 444 points in 488 games in Chicago and ranks 17th all-time for franchise scorers with 216 goals. Our hearts go out to Jim’s family and friends.”

Pappin was given credit for Toronto’s second goal in a 3-1 series-ending victory over Montreal in Game 6 on May 2, 1967. Linemate Pete Stemkowski deflected it in, but allowed Pappin to take credit to earn a contract bonus.

Pappin also played on Toronto’s 1964 Stanley Cup championship team, spending part of five seasons with the Maple Leafs.

Traded to Chicago in 1968, he had his biggest offensive seasons with the Blackhawks with MPH Line mates Pit Martin and Dennis Hull, finishing with career highs of 41 goals, 51 assists and 92 points in 1972-73.

After seven seasons with Chicago, he spent the 1975-76 season with the California Seals and followed the franchise to Cleveland the following year for his final NHL season.

In 767 regular-season games in 14 seasons in the NHL, Pappin had 278 goals and 295 assists. In 92 playoff games, he had 33 goals and 34 assists.

Toronto Maple Leafs sniper Auston Matthews won the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player on the strength of the league’s first 60-goal season in a decade.

Matthews also won the Ted Lindsay Award on Tuesday, which goes to the league’s most outstanding player as voted by his peers.

The 24-year-old edged out Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid and New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin to win MVP. McDavid led the league in scoring with 123 points, while Shesterkin, who was awarded the Vezina Trophy on Tuesday, authored one of the best goaltending seasons in recent memory.

Here’s how the voting broke down, with Matthews winning in a landslide:

1Auston Matthews1630(119-49-15-6-4)
2Connor McDavid1111(29-66-56-20-19)
3Igor Shesterkin738(24-26-41-29-24)
4Johnny Gaudreau617(3-19-44-66-36)
5Jonathan Huberdeau506(13-21-21-31-31)

Matthews is only the third Maple Leaf in the franchise’s 104-year history to win the Hart Trophy and the first since 1954-55. He’s the club’s only player to win the Ted Lindsay.

He finished the year sixth in scoring with a career-high 106 points but only played in 73 games due to injuries and suspension. Matthews’ 1.45 points per game trailed only McDavid (1.54) among players to suit up in at least 50 contests this season. His 0.82 goals per game in 2021-22 is the highest clip in the salary-cap era and the most since Mario Lemieux’s 0.99 in 1995-96.

On top of leading the league in goals for the second year in a row, Matthews excelled defensively. He finished 10th in Selke voting and led all forwards with 92 takeaways. Matthews also paced all forwards to play at least 1,000 minutes with a 64.15% expected goals rate and finished second under the same parameters in expected goals against per 60 at 2.04, according to Evolving-Hockey.

Matthews was also a Hart Trophy finalist in 2020-21.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have yet to engage in notable contract negotiations with two key pending unrestricted free agents, according to TSN’s Chris Johnston.

“Their two most significant players that could hit the market, Jack Campbell and Ilya Mikheyev, what stands out to me is that they haven’t actually really done any negotiating at all with those players,” Johnston said on Tuesday’s edition of “Insider Trading.”

“Certainly, there’s ongoing dialogue, there’s been discussions with the camps of those guys, but no numbers exchanged. No real back-and-forth there.”

The Leafs are permitted to sign either player to an extension at any time. Campbell and Mikheyev can sign elsewhere once free agency opens July 13.

Mikheyev is looking to make something in the $4-million to $5-million range on his next contract, according to Johnston. His previous deal paid him $1.645 million annually, but he’s coming off a career-high 21 goals this past season.

Campbell made $1.65 million over the past two seasons but is due for a raise as well. He made the Atlantic Division All-Star team after a terrific start to the 2021-22 campaign and finished the year with a 31-9-6 record, five shutouts, and a .914 save percentage.

The 30-year-old had an .897 clip in the playoffs as the Leafs faltered in the first round once again.

Toronto has approximately $7.8 million in cap space to work with at the moment, according to CapFriendly.

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Jason Spezza announced his retirement after 19 NHL seasons.

Additionally, the 38-year-old Spezza will immediately join Toronto’s front office as a special assistant to general manager Kyle Dubas.

“I love hockey. Since the age of three, I’ve been lucky enough to live out my dream and do what I love for so many years,” said Spezza. “I eat, sleep, dream hockey, and it’s always been there for me.

“There are too many people to thank individually, but I’m forever grateful and indebted to the Ottawa Senators, Dallas Stars, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Hockey Canada for their support and belief in me as a player and person.”

Spezza finishes his playing career with 995 points in 1,248 games split between the Senators, Stars, and Maple Leafs.

Ottawa drafted Spezza second overall in 2001, and he went on to become one of the best players in the franchise’s history. He ranks second to Daniel Alfredsson on the Senators’ all-time list for goals (251), assists (436), and points (687) despite placing sixth with 686 games played.

The best stretch of Spezza’s career came in the first three seasons after the lockout. Centering a line with Alfredsson and Dany Heatley, Spezza averaged 105 points per 82 games from 2005-06 to 2007-08. He ranked third among NHL skaters with 1.27 points per contest during that span, trailing only Sidney Crosby and Joe Thornton.

Spezza helped lead the Senators to their lone Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2007, though they fell to the Anaheim Ducks in five games. However, Spezza, Heatley, and Alfredsson all tied for the league lead with 22 points during that playoff run.

With Spezza set to become an unrestricted free agent, Ottawa traded him to Dallas in 2014. He spent five years with the Stars, recording 228 points in 379 games.

The Mississauga, Ontario native went home in 2019, signing a one-year deal for the league minimum with the Maple Leafs. He went on to play three years in Toronto, all for the league minimum, compiling 80 points in 183 games in a fourth-line role. He was also a valuable veteran leader for the Leafs.

“It is difficult to describe just how much of a lasting and positive impact that Jason Spezza made in his three seasons with the Maple Leafs,” Dubas said. “Jason’s passion for the game of hockey, his desire to continuously push himself and his teammates to improve, as well as his capacity to make strong connections with all members of the organization, have been invaluable.”

Spezza represented Canada on the international stage numerous times. He captured gold (2015) and two silver medals (2008, 2009) at the IIHF World Championship and won a silver (2002) and two bronze medals (2000, 2001) at the world juniors. He was also a reserve for Canada’s 2006 Olympic team.

Mark Giordano is staying in Toronto on a hometown discount.

The Maple Leafs signed the veteran defenseman to a two-year extension with an average annual value of $800,000, the team announced Sunday.

“Everything (Giordano) does is done to help the team win, and that includes a tremendous sacrifice in this contract negotiation,” general manager Kyle Dubas said.

Giordano, a Toronto native, recorded 35 points in 75 games last season, split between the Maple Leafs and Seattle Kraken. The Leafs acquired him, along with forward Colin Blackwell, at the trade deadline for two second-round picks and a third-rounder.

The 38-year-old posted strong underlying numbers last season, specifically on the defensive end:

Giordano’s previous cap hit carried an AAV of $6.75 million. His market value is $6.3 million per year, according to The Athletic’s Dom Luszczyszyn.

The extension will take Giordano through his age 39 and 40 seasons.

Giordano spent the first 15 years of his career with the Calgary Flames, serving as team captain for eight of those campaigns. He won the Norris Trophy in 2018-19 at age 35 after posting a career-high 74 points. The Kraken selected him in the 2021 expansion draft.

The Maple Leafs now have five defensemen signed for next season: Giordano, Morgan RiellyJake MuzzinT.J. Brodie, and Justin HollRasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren are restricted free agents, while Ilya Lyubushkin is an unrestricted free agent.

Rielly, Muzzin, Giordano, and Sandin have all played primarily on the left side in their careers. Barring any further moves, one of them may need to slide over to the right.

The Tampa Bay Lightning are heading to the second round after defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 in Game 7 on Saturday night.

Nick Paul opened the scoring for Tampa Bay late in the first period. John Tavares thought he scored the equalizer during the second frame, but the goal was called back due to an interference call on Justin Holl.

Morgan Rielly later tied things up before Paul scored his second of the contest, which held up as the game-winner.

Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 30 of 31 shots, while Jack Campbell turned away 23 shots.

This marks the Maple Leafs’ sixth straight postseason in which they’ve failed to make it past the first round. The club hasn’t reached the second round since 2004.

Victor Hedman, who had seven points in the series, commended the Maple Leafs on a good series and sees a bright future for the club.

“Unbelievable team … close series … they’re a great group,” Hedman said postgame, according to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun. “They’re going to get another chance at this. They’re going to go a long way in the future.”

The Lightning will now take on the Florida Panthers as they look to win a third straight Stanley Cup.

Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander is about to suit up for his fourth career Game 7, and he’s learned a couple lessons along the way.

“I think we came out a little flat in those games – like we were a little bit scared to lose,” Nylander said of Toronto’s previous Game 7 struggles, according to ESPN’s Kristen Shilton. “We don’t need to be scared to lose. We’ve got a great team.”

Toronto hasn’t closed out a series in a Game 7 since 2004, against the Ottawa Senators. The Maple Leafs have an all-time record of 12-13 in Game 7 and were outscored 15-6 in their last three (Montreal Canadiens in 2021, Boston Bruins in 2018 and 2019).

Heading into Saturday’s Game 7 against the Tampa Bay Lightning, head coach Sheldon Keefe is staying calm under pressure.

“This is as confident as I’ve been coaching this team,” Keefe said.

He added, “It’s because of how we’ve played in this series. … The confidence has grown through the series. The players are going to be relaxed and play with energy. We’re going to give ourselves every opportunity to win the game.”

Keefe is in his third season as head coach of the Maple Leafs. He boasts a regular-season record of 116-50-19 but hasn’t helped his team break out of the first round.

Toronto will face a tall task while trying to eliminate a talented Lightning team chasing its third consecutive Stanley Cup.

“We’re standing here on the cusp of greatness, and why the hell wouldn’t we charge through that door? Let’s go get this. Let’s go attack this,” Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper said, per team beat writer Gabby Shirley. “If fear is the motivator, then so be it – but I don’t want there being any excuse if it doesn’t go well for us tonight.”

Game 7 kicks off at 7 p.m. ET.

The Tampa Bay Lightning saved their season, keeping their bid for a three-peat alive.

The two-time defending Stanley Cup champions rallied to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3 in overtime on Thursday night, staving off elimination and forcing a winner-take-all Game 7 in the first round playoff series between the Atlantic Division rivals.

Brayden Point scored the winning goal on a rebound with 1:56 remaining in the first extra period, touching off a raucous celebration in the stands at sold-out Amalie Arena and handing Toronto another crushing postseason blow.

Ondrej Palat, Anthony Cirelli and Nikita Kucherov also scored for the Lightning, who blew a two-goal lead for the second straight game and trailed 3-2 entering the third period.

But unlike Tuesday night, when Toronto came from behind to win Game 5 at home, the Maple Leafs couldn’t hold off the reigning champs to claim their first playoff series win in 18 years.

Game 7 is Saturday in Toronto.

“All we did was buy another chance to keep our season going,” Point said.

“It all comes down to one game. … Those are fun ones to play in,” Cirelli added.

The Lightning are trying to become the first team to capture three consecutive Stanley Cup titles since the New York Islanders won four in a row from 1980-83.

The Maple Leafs, who’ve been eliminated in the first round each of the past five seasons, are 0-for-their-last-8 in close-out games as they chase their first postseason series win since 2004.

“We had our looks in OT. Unfortunately we weren’t the ones to cash in on our opportunities,” Toronto’s John Tavares said.

“We worked hard all year to earn home ice, and we’ve got a great opportunity going home in front of our fans to try to close this thing out,” Tavares added. “Look forward to the opportunity. It’s what the game’s all about.”

Andrei Vasilevskiy had 30 saves — nine in overtime — to improve to 18-0 in games following a playoff loss over the past three postseasons.

“It’s about wins this time of the year, and this group has proved that we don’t care how it gets done,” Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said. “We just want to get it done.”

Jack Campbell stopped 32 of 36 shots for the Maple Leafs, whose fortunes shifted dramatically when they were whistled for two high-sticking penalties within a 16-second span of the third period.

The Lightning capitalized on the 5-on-3 power-play opportunity, with Kucherov’s goal making it 3-3 midway through the third period.

Special teams also played a role in Tampa Bay’s first two goals — Palat scoring while skating 4 on 4 in the opening period, and Cirelli’s short-handed goal leaving the Maple Leafs with a two-goal deficit that Auston Matthews and John Tavares wiped out over the last half of the second.

Matthews cut into the deficit with his fourth goal of the series. Tavares scored twice in the last 34 seconds of the second period to put the Maple Leafs ahead 3-2.

“I thought we were playing a good third period up until they had the 5 on 3,” Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe said.

“We were protecting our net well. We were defending well. We were in good position. I loved how we were playing,” Keefe added. “The 5 on 3 turns things, and then it took us a bit to really get our game going from there.”

The Maple Leafs rallied to win Game 5 at home, overcoming an early two-goal deficit and scoring three times in the third period to win 4-3 and take a 3-2 series lead.

The Lightning, meanwhile, faced elimination in a series for just the second time over the past three postseasons. The Islanders extended them to Game 7 in last year’s conference semifinals, with Tampa Bay’s winning 1-0 before going on to defeat the Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup Final.

The defending champs once again scored the first two goals Thursday night, with Palat taking advantage of a turnover in the neutral zone to beat Campbell on a breakaway and Cirelli using a spin move to shake defenseman Mark Giordano and put Lightning up 2-0 with a short-handed goal at 10:46 of the second period.

Matthews scored less than a minute later, re-directing Giordano’s shot through heavy traffic and past Vasilevskiy to trim Toronto’s deficit to 2-1. It looked like one goal might stand through the end of the period until the Maple Leafs mounted a another charge in the final minute.

Tavares’ hard shot from the left circle deflected off Vasilevskiy’s pad and up over the Lightning goaltender to tie it at 2. His second goal gave the Maple Leafs the lead with just eight seconds left before the second intermission.

With Toronto’s David Kampf and Alexander Kerfoot both in the penalty box for high-sticking, Kucherov — assisted by Point and Stamkos — delivered his second goal of the series.

The Maple Leafs outshot the Lightning 8-2 over the first 11 minutes of overtime.

“We had plenty of opportunities to finish the game and finish the series,” Keefe said. “It didn’t go our way, but (there’s) lots of belief in our group, and we’re excited to play Game 7 on home ice in front of our fans.”

Longtime San Jose Sharks forward Patrick Marleau retired Tuesday after 23 NHL seasons.

The 42-year-old confirmed his decision in The Players’ Tribune. He’s the league’s all-time leader in games played with 1,779. He didn’t suit up in the NHL this season.

Marleau played 20 full campaigns and part of another with the Sharks, who drafted him second overall in 1997.

The Saskatchewan-born skater spent his first 19 seasons with San Jose before playing two with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He then suited up for 58 games with his original club in 2019-20 before the Sharks traded him to the Pittsburgh Penguins at the deadline.

Marleau re-signed with San Jose in October 2020 and broke Gordie Howe’s games played record of 1,767 in April 2021.

“(Retirement is) bittersweet for sure, but I have so much to look forward to,” Marleau wrote in a piece published Tuesday. “Who knows what the world has in store for me. If you would have told that kid on the frozen pond that he would break a games played record held by none other than Gordie Howe, he would have thought you were crazy.

“It was never something I aimed for; it was just me loving this game so much that I never, ever wanted to hang up my skates.”

Marleau is the Sharks’ all-time leader in goals, points, even-strength goals, power-play goals, shorthanded goals, game-winners, and shots on goal.

Jason Spezza stood up in the Toronto locker room in the wake of another disastrous start.

The veteran forward — potentially in the midst of a final Stanley Cup shot in his 19th NHL season — spoke about the margin for error getting smaller and smaller against two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay.

Toronto desperately needed to pick it up. And the team’s big guns delivered a gutsy effort.

Auston Matthews scored the tiebreaking goal with 6:06 left in the third period and the Maple Leafs rallied from an early two-goal deficit to beat the Lightning 4-3 on Tuesday night and take a 3-2 lead in the first-round playoff series.

“Spezz really spoke well,” said Toronto captain John Tavares. “We obviously needed to find another level.”

William Nylander added a goal and two assists for Toronto, which is a victory away from advancing in the postseason for the first time since 2004. Tavares had a goal and assist, and Morgan Rielly also scored. Jack Campbell stopped 32 shots.

“He’s a great leader,” Nylander said of the 38-year-old Spezza, who saw less than six minutes of ice time.

“When he says something, everybody listens.”

Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman and Ryan McDonagh scored, Nikita Kucherov had two assists and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 22 saves for the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Lightning, who will try to avoid elimination in the best-of-seven series in Game 6 at home on Thursday night.

“We’re not really making them earn it,” Tampa head coach Jon Cooper said. “We’re kind of giving it to them.”

The Maple Leafs would certainly disagree after becoming the first team in the five games to come back after falling behind.

“The way the series has gone is that 2-0 has become four or five,” Toronto head coach Sheldon Keefe said. “We needed to flip that script.”

Game 7, if necessary, would be in Toronto on Saturday.

“It’s a big win for us,” Matthews said. “But there’s still some work to be done.”

Matthews snapped a 3-3 tie on a 2-on-1 rush in the third period. Mitch Marner fired a shot off Vasilevskiy’s right pad and Matthews, ,who had 60 goals during the regular season, scored his third of the playoffs to ignite the raucous home crowd.

“Such a special player,” Matthews said of Marner. “Any time he’s got the puck I just try to get open or try to anticipate it’s coming to me.

“Just an unbelievable IQ play by him. I had the whole net to shoot at.”

Matthews celebrated by dropping to one knee before punching the air with a windmill celebration.

“Huge goal,” Nylander said with a grin. “Deserves a big celly.”

The Lightning pulled Vasilevskiy late and had a couple of chances, but iced the puck with 21.9 seconds left to force the 2021 Conn Smythe Trophy winner back into his crease.

Down 2-1 heading to the third, Toronto tied the score with the teams playing 4 on 4 at 3:01 when Tavares held onto the puck in the offensive zone before finding Rielly, who scored his first of the series.

The Leafs took their first lead when Nylander scored his third goal in the last two games on Vasilevskiy.

But the Lightning responded at 8:17, when McDonagh blasted a shot past Campbell, tying the game at 3 before Matthews won it.

The Maple Leafs were coming off a 7-3 loss to Tampa Bay in Game 4.

Toronto head coach Sheldon Keefe went with the same lineup for the third straight game. He shook up three of his team’s four lines. That included splitting up Tavares and Nylander, while Michael Bunting returned to the top trio with Matthews and Marner.

Toronto got an early power play to continue the series’ parade to the penalty box, but couldn’t connect despite some good looks for Marner.

Stamkos made it 1-0 at 5:19 of the first. The Lightning then got their first man advantage when T.J. Brodie went off for hooking, and they went up by two at 6:11 when Hedman fired a shot that found its way through traffic.

Toronto killed off a 5-on-3 power play for 30 seconds later in the period thanks to some big stops from Campbell before Nylander broke in alone coming out of the box, only to be denied by Vasilevskiy.

Tampa Bay finished the period that included seven minor penalties with a 14-5 edge in shots.

“We had to stop taking penalties,” Keefe said. “And our power play had to do a better job.

“It really muddied the waters in terms of how we were actually playing and really couldn’t allow us to get life and get going.”

The Lightning were whistled for their second infraction of the night for too many men on the ice early in the second, and Toronto broke through when Nylander fired a shot that went in off the skate of Tavares for the captain’s first goal of the series.

The Leafs continued to push as the period wore on, with Vasilevskiy forced to make a number of huge saves.

Campbell had a much quieter period at the other end, but had to make a big stop on a Nick Paul breakaway after he stripped Morgan Rielly of the puck.