The lead story this morning is about MLSE: The company, the myth, the bank vault. According to the annual sports franchise valuations done by Forbes magazine due out NOv. 28, the Leafs conglomerate is valued at $325 million US, and that leads the NHL.
That's pretty good, though evidently not quite good enough to afford a decent stay-at-home defenceman.
Leafs president Richard Peddie disputes the numbers -- there's a surprise -- telling The Star's Ken Campbell:
"If I were running a big Fortune 500 company, they would be giving me a lot of trouble for how low our bottom line is."
The truth is these numbers are fairly accurate, if not exact. It's down at the other end of the spectrum where they become indicators, as co-writer Michael Ozonian tells Campbell:
"The two places where I think there will not be teams in two years are Carolina and Atlanta. And I still need more convincing in Florida and Nashville."
Damien Cox suggests that, from a Leafs perspective, it means nothing on the ice. That, too, is no big surprise. To me, the Leafs in my lifetime have become something of the Chicago Cubs of hockey -- guaranteed of wild fan support, full houses and falling short of the championship year in and out.
Meantime, Leafs are in Buffalo tonight. Aki Berg is healthy, according to the hard-working Campbell, which means that Carlo Colaiacovo stays with the AHL Marlies. Be interesting to see how Berg plays, after Carlo's one-game callup this week went pretty well. Oh, and for the benefit of some of our posters, here's a patial explanation for the yo-yo of Carlo, a move we'll see a lot of this year with the Marlies just down the road:
There has been criticism the Leafs were pinching pennies by sending Colaiacovo back down and paying him a minor league salary, but saving money had nothing to do with the move. Saving cap space was the modus operandi with Colaiacovo. The Leafs have about $1.5 million (U.S.) in cap space left and, like other teams, want to have as much cap space as possible when the March 9 trade deadline hits.
If the Leafs figured Carlo was a keeper, of course, they'd swallow those extra few thousands in cap space. Witness Staffan Kranwall. Over at the Sun, Terry Koshan tells the same story with a little twist -- Kranwall, who could've been a yo-yo but instead has become something of a fixture on that shaky Leafs defence.
Got a few links for you today. First one's for the fans. We hear a lot about how the crowd at the ACC are too quiet, with the sushi jokes and too many suits. Well, if you need more proof that Leafs fans are some of the best, just check out a road game. Especially tonight in Buffalo.
"When Toronto comes down, they take over the building pretty much," Sabres center Derek Roy tells the Buffalo News.
Not sure why Toronto's record is a very lousy 20-43-6 record in Buffalo, as noted by Ken Campbell this morning. Campbell suggests it's because a game against Toronto in Buffalo is practically a road game for them.
"They respond well to it," Pat Quinn tells Campbell today. "Their teams have always played with heart."
Well, so do the fans that make the trip down the QEW.
"It's electrifying," goalie Martin Biron tells the News. "At any moment in the game people are standing up and cheering. There are 6,000 Leafs fans that are going to be as loud as 20,000 anywhere else. It keeps it very interesting. Our fans are saying, 'We gotta be louder than the Toronto fans because it's our building. So whenever they start yelling, we're going to yell louder and bury them.' "
Maybe that's why the Sabres play so hard when the Leafs come. Maybe the Leafs' poor record in Buffalo is all your fault.
"You want to give your fans something to cheer about, and you want to make sure at the end of the night they're the ones standing on their feet and cheering instead of the other way around," says Biron.
Some other business from last night:
Nathan Perrott is on an 82-goal pace with the Dallas Stars after his debut last night in Nashville.
"I scored 16 goals last year [in the AHL], so I can score," Perrott tells the Dallas Morning News.
Further analysis reveals the ex-Leaf had a whopping 3:16 of ice time in a loss to the Predators. Don't think he's headed to the NHL awards ceremony game any time soon.
Still in Nashville, where last night the real star was another ex-Leaf, Steve Sullivan. Three more goals. Here's how Tennessean writer John Glennon describes it:
Predators fans covered the ice with hats following Steve Sullivan's third goal last night. Dallas defenseman Sergei Zubov probably wished they'd thrown a shirt, shorts and shoes as well, since he'd just been undressed on the play.
Whenever I read something like that, I wish the Leafs still had Sullivan. But then I remember that Toronto has a newer, younger version of the Timmons Tornado playing right now: Kyle Wellwood.
Sabres tongiht. Habs tomorrow. Go Leafs Fans Go. (SW)