Habs Sing “Let It Go” With Fantastic Results

The Montreal Canadiens have released the video of the holiday season with their own rendition of the hit song “Let It Go” from the hit Disney film “Frozen” It will easily be a new favourite of yours because it’s hilarious, and any young kids you have because well, it’s “Frozen”.

*Disclaimer* I also cannot sing. At all

Best

PK Subban

You can tell that PK Subban either came up with the idea to do the video or was the first to agree to it because nobody has more fun then him. You could have just got him to do the song by himself and there would have been no objections. I’m not even 100% sure he knew they were filming.

Brendan Gallagher

Gallagher has a tough job in this one because he’s got to set the tone and he doesn’t disappoint. The patented Gallagher grin makes an appearance throughout the whole time he’s singing. I don’t know if he has a future in music but he should give it a shot

Michael Condon

Condon might be 2nd to Carey Price on the ice but when it comes to the recording studio he’s got him beat. The amount of emotion displayed in his performance is something that everybody can learn something from.

Dale Weiss

Dale Weiss is a true performer and a showman. Gallagher passes him the baton and he just runs with it. The vocals are there, the hand gestures are a brilliant touch, and when he looks into the camera it’s like he’s staring into your soul. It was truly breathtaking to watch

Tomas Fleischmann 

Fleischmann doesn’t give the best vocal performance on the team but you have to love the enthusiasm he gives. Holding that high note on “free” (at 1:57) is a sight to behold and the inspiring call to arms at 3:24 were more than enough to sell me on his spot in the top

Worst 

Max Pacioretty

I’m not sure if Pacioretty knew that he was singing a song because he actually just speaks his one line. This seems like an instance where he wanted no part in doing the video but was convinced to because he’s one of the best players on the team. I like to imagine Subban following him around singing the song to try and convince him to participate

Tom Gilbert

I. Don’t. Think. Tom. Gilbert. I’m sure you get the point. I don’t know if Gilbert is singing or doing a really bad Barack Obama impression. The long pause can sometimes add some drama and emphasis to what you’re saying but when you’re singing it sounds very strange. At least it seemed like he was having fun

Alex Galchenyuk

Galchenyuk is an exciting player to watch on the ice but in this video it seems like somebody had just woken him up and asked him to say/sing his lines before he had any coffee. It kind of reminds of the cartoon Droopy Dog. It’s a good thing he’s a talented player because he’s not the most enthusiastic singer.

Andrei Markov

I contemplated giving Markov a pass because it’s hard enough to speak a different language let alone sing. Then I thought back to the enthusiasm Fleischmann showed during his parts and decided that if he can do it so can Markov. The effort just wasn’t there but hopefully he turns it around for the Easter video.

Tomas Plekanec

Plekanec might be my favourite for many reasons the least of which is that he isn’t even close to following the beat of the song. Mostly though it’s hard not to laugh when the camera cuts to him and he lifts his head and speaks his line “here I stand” as if it’s the beginning to a really epic speech you would give your team before a playoff game. It wasn’t very good singing but you can put me down as inspired.

Follow me on twitter @_JaredClarkson and let me know your favourite performance

Jonathan Bernier To Undergo AHL Conditioning Stint

On Monday I wrote about how Jonathan Bernier was struggling mightily for the Maple Leafs right now but you should still be cheering for him to succeed. You can read that here. That same night Garret Sparks went out and made history becoming the first Leafs goalie to record a shutout in his NHL debut

Today the Leafs placed Bernier on a conditioning stint with the Toronto Marlies in the AHL. So what does it mean?

For Jonathan Bernier

According to section 13.8 of the NHL CBA

“Unless a Player consents, he shall not be Loaned on a Conditioning Loan to a minor league club. Such Conditioning Loan shall not extend for more than fourteen (14) consecutive days. The Commissioner may take whatever steps he deems necessary to investigate the circumstances under which a Player is Loaned on a Conditioning Loan. If the Commissioner has reason to believe or determines that the Club has used the Conditioning Loan to evade Waivers, or otherwise Circumvent any provision of this Agreement, he may take such disciplinary action against the Club, as he deems appropriate. The Player shall continue, during the period of such Conditioning Loan, to receive the same Paragraph 1 NHL Salary, and be entitled to the same benefits, that he would have received had he continued to play with the Club.”

A few things stick out from this.

  1. Jonathan Bernier had to consent to the assignment. He could have refused but given his current situation it was best to go down to the Marlies, play really well, and wait to be recalled. The Marlies play 3 games this weekend and then are off until they play another 3 in a row starting December 11th.
  2. Bernier can only be in the AHL for a maximum of 14 days so he will have to be recalled no later than December 16th
  3. He is entitled to both the salary and benefits he would receive if he were still in the NHL

Garret Sparks

For Garret Sparks this is basically a dream scenario. At this time last year he was riding the bus down in the ECHL playing for the Orlando Solar Bears (best name in sports?) and now he’s in the NHL. He’ll get at least one more start tonight when the Leafs play the Winnipeg Jets so hopefully he puts together another good effort. Reimer is nearing a return and expects to play tomorrow night. At the very least Sparks can continue to enjoy earning an NHL salary along with the other benefits of being a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Toronto Maple Leafs

As far as the actual team is concerned this doesn’t really change their short term plans. James Reimer is this teams starting goalie and will play the majority of the games moving forward. They really didn’t have a choice but to get Bernier playing in an environment where he can have the most success. That wasn’t going to happen any time soon at the NHL level.

Long term there will be some difficult questions to answer. Reimer is set to become a UFA and Sparks will be an RFA, leaving Bernier as the only goalie of the three with a contract going into next season. It would be perfectly fair for Reimer to be looking at a deal similar to the one Bernier currently has at $4.15M and if the Leafs can’t get him to sign before the trade deadline they at least have to entertain the possibility of moving him for draft picks.

Agree? Disagree? What would you do with Bernier? Tweet me your thoughts @_JaredClarkson

Garret Sparks Perfect In Historic Debut

(Christian Bonin/TSGphoto.com)

Record books are written in pencil so that people like Garret Sparks can come in and rewrite them. They aren’t meant to last forever.

Last night Garret Sparks, the 22 year old rookie goaltender for the Toronto Maple Leafs, stopped all 24 Edmonton Oilers shots he faced to become the first Leafs goalie to ever record a shutout in his NHL debut. When he found out after the game he was so overcome with emotion that it brought him to tears.

For a guy that was playing in the ECHL just last season it’s understandable why the emotion of the moment got to him. He’s been through pretty much everything you can go through on his way to the NHL.

Brian Burke drafted Sparks in the 7th round, 190th overall back in 2011. Not many players drafted that late even make it to the NHL at all. That in itself is a testament to the work that Sparks has put in to get to where he is today. According to TheScore, just over 19% of players taken in the 7th round between 2005 and 2010 made it to a single game in the NHL.

Once he graduated to the professional ranks from the OHL he managed to have a solid rookie campaign with the Toronto Marlies while also playing 10 games in the ECHL. Last season he battled injuries, and when he was healthy, he couldn’t find work at the AHL level so he played all but 2 games in the ECHL. That’s when he turned his game around.

“As a goalie, I find that my strengths are my size, flexibility, and ability to read plays as they unfold. Coupling those strengths with strong pushes from point A to point B rather than dramatic slides has greatly changed the way I play, and greatly increased my control.”

That quote is from an article that Garret wrote this past February for a website called faceoffcircle.ca. I highly suggest you check it out as it goes into incredible detail about the work that Sparks put in to reinvent his game as well as explains why it helped him.

The Leafs season has been tough so far. James Reimer has given the team some good stretches of play but for the most part the fact that they’re hovering around last place tells you all you need to know. They’ve been better than last season but there’s still a long way to go.

Moments like last night make it just a little bit easier to stick with the rebuild. Every so often you need a reminder that all the losing is going to be worth it in the end. There are players on this team that can be good additions to a contending team

Last night Garret Sparks’ performance wasn’t just good. It was historic

-Another bit of history for you. According to NHLdrafter.com since 1998 Brian Burke has been a part of 14 drafts as an NHL General Manager. Garret Sparks is the first goalie selected by Burke in the draft to play a game since 2002 and the first to win a game since 1998.

-Mike Babcock said last night that if Reimer isn’t healthy enough to play Wednesday against the Jets Sparks will get the start

-Joe Bowen’s call during the final seconds of the 3rd period

Follow me on twitter @_JaredClarkson and tell me what you thought of Sparks’ NHL debut

Like It Or Not, You Should Be Cheering For Jonathan Bernier

Perhaps Jonathan Bernier was doomed from the start of his career with the Toronto Maple Leafs. After all, James Reimer had just single-handedly ended a Leafs playoff drought that spanned almost 10 years. It probably didn’t help Bernier’s cause that Reimer rode into town as a folk hero of sorts in 2011. You don’t get the nickname “Optimus Reim” because of how nice of a guy you are. He took a team that was in shambles and got them back in the playoff race without a whole lot of help from anybody. More importantly, he had proven to the fans and to the city that he could be counted on. Fans believed in him in a way that they never could with Raycroft, Toskala, Gerber, Giguere, Aubin, Gustavsson, McDonald, 2009 Joseph Tellqvist, Pogge, Clemmensen, Scrivens (wow they’ve had a lot of goalies since Belfour). When he took the Bruins to game 7 in 2013 people were ready to anoint him king.

Dave Nonis did a lot of strange things when he was GM. One of the strangest moves might have been when he acquired Bernier from the Kings in June 2013. You’re probably thinking “NO WAY! This is the guy that bought out Grabovski, traded for Dave Bolland, signed David Clarkson, traded John-Michael Liles for Tim Gleason and then bought out Tim Gleason.” At least with those ones Nonis was trying to fix something that was a problem. The Leafs couldn’t play in their own end and had glaring holes up front as well. He did a terrible job trying to fix those problems but he tried. The Bernier trade was upgrading something that was in great working condition.

Imagine having a busted fridge and oven (offence and defence in this scenario) but your microwave (James Reimer) is working so great that it’s the best microwave you’ve had in 10 years. DAVE NONIS BOUGHT A NEW MICROWAVE! Then when anybody went over to his house and pointed out that his fridge and oven don’t work he kept showing them his fancy new microwave

Going forward Reimer is a UFA this summer and Bernier is signed for one more year at $4.15M. The fact that both goalies naturally want to be a starter in the NHL should give you a pretty good indication that both of them won’t be here by the time the puck drops on next season.

Asset management is such a big part of sports and being able to maximize the players you have at your disposal, especially in a rebuild, is one of the most important jobs a GM has. That can’t happen if Bernier doesn’t turn it around because there are not very many teams calling about a $4M dollar goalie that can’t stop the puck. Bernier needs to find his form again and do it fast.

Mike Babcock has made it clear that he doesn’t trust Bernier in net and that he’s out of chances at least for the time being. James Reimer is still not going to be back for today’s game. Bernier got passed over so that Garret Sparks can make his NHL debut. That’s where Babcock is at right now and it puts the team in a very delicate situation.

Reimer is not just the Leafs best goalie right now but he’s been one of the best in the league this season. Like I said earlier he also happens to be a UFA this summer and his history with the team might mean he would rather move on and start fresh then come back to Toronto. However, the opportunity to be the starter and the loyalty he seems to show for the team that gave him a chance to live out his NHL dream could persuade him to stay. I think money probably goes a long way to helping that decision

With Jonathan Bernier the Leafs have a goalie that sits 9th from the bottom in save percentage despite being one of the 30 highest paid goalies in the league. He can’t be traded while he’s playing this poorly and his coach doesn’t trust him enough to play so that he can work his way out of this. He’s caught in a tough place.

It’s still too early for the Leafs to completely give up on Bernier and go all in on Reimer. If you look at their numbers Bernier and Reimer  still have virtually identical career stats despite James significantly outplaying him all season. Reimer may very well end up as the better goalie when all is said and done but it’s also important to recognize that this is a small sample size in a much larger career. There was a time when Montreal Canadiens fans wanted the team to trade Carey Price and he turned out to be pretty good.

If you’re a Leafs fan you should be cheering for Bernier to turn it around. You can be part of Tank Nation and still want him to at least play well while the team loses. Don’t forget that this is what you wanted. If you want to be in on the Auston Matthews sweepstakes this losing is going to have to go on for a lot longer. But you should still want for every player on this team to play the best they’ve ever played. The better they perform the more draft picks the Leafs get at the deadline.

Cheer on Bernier because if nothing else, a good Jonathan Bernier has value to the other 29 teams in the league. Every time he lets in a goal from centre ice stop, take a deep breath, and cheer.

Mike Babcock said there would be pain.

Follow me on twitter @_JaredClarkson and tell me what you would do with Jonathan Bernier