The Leafs picked up Phil Kessel from the Bruins on Friday. (Getty Images)
I thought my eyes were deceiving me when the L.A. Kings announced Sunday they were re-assigning a prospect named Juraj Mikus to their American League affiliate. Just a day earlier, I noticed the Maple Leafs had re-assigned a prospect named Juraj Mikus to the AHL.
Damned if there aren’t two Juraj Mikuses – both Slovaks, one just a year older than the other, yet not related. Unfortunately, if you’re looking forward to the big Juraj Mikus Squared showdown (in which the scorekeeper may up and quit mid-game) it likely won’t happen until the AHL playoffs, as the Toronto Marlies and Manchester Monarchs don’t face each other in the regular season.
• It’s understandable why Toronto Maple Leafs fans would want to talk about GM Brian Burke’s acquisition of Phil Kessel. The kid’s got more wheels than Goodyear and already has shown extended glimpses of the skills that made Boston take him with the fifth overall pick in the 2006 draft.
But the Toronto-centric news that really caught my attention was the long-overdue word the Leafs are finally using some of their corporate heft to expand their player development team.
For too long, the Leafs have been satisfied to deploy approximately the same number of scouts as any other NHL franchise. In the salary cap world, that made absolutely no sense (unless you were a Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment bean-counting bottom-liner), because the cap prescribes no financial limits on how franchises build their player development department.
Toronto taking advantage of that should’ve been a no-brainer long before Burke arrived. Nevertheless, that Leafs ownership is now willing to commit more resources to the player development side should make Toronto fans feel better about the future in a way Kessel on his own cannot. Because it’s the constant production of young, cheap talent that’s far more important to the franchise’s future, not whether the former Bruin lives up to his new $27-million contract.
The best way to accomplish that is to have as many hockey fishermen casting lines for you as possible.
• Finally, those of you who can’t get enough NHL references from Liz Lemon’s Islanders-adoring ex-boyfriend on 30 Rock are advised to check out tonight’s season premiere of How I Met Your Mother, when one of the TV show’s main characters – Robin, played by Vancouver native and real-life hockey aficionado Cobie Smulders – indulges her love of the Canucks by attending a Rangers-Vancouver game at Madison Square Garden.
Apparently, How I Met Your Mother’s producers plan on working in more hockey-related scenes this season. The ante has been upped, 30 Rock.
Adam Proteau, co-author of the book The Top 60 Since 1967, is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog will appear regularly in the off-season, his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.