Toronto Maple Leafs Talk: Bob McKenzie Interview Featuring Tyler Hill

AndrewCorrespondent IFebruary 23, 2009

Tyler Hill: We're here with Bob McKenzie, TSN hockey analyst. How you doing Bob?

Bob McKenzie: Excellent, how are you guys doing today?

Tyler Hill: We're good.

Andrew Echevarria: I'm fine

Tyler Hill: So let's get questions underway. Andrew, I believe you wanted to do the first one?

Andrew Echevarria: This is a recent one, Jason Blake. He scored a hat trick not too long ago, do you think he's improving or is just on a temporary streak?

Bob McKenzie: Well, I think Jason Blake has the capability to do more than a temporary improvement. He's a good National Hockey League player who hasn't played so good for Toronto, for some reason, but Ron Wilson seems to be getting to him, he seems to be understanding what Ron Wilson wants, and he's been more confident.

Can he get five points like he did in Carolina? No. Can he be a lot better that he's shown in Toronto thus far? Absolutely yes. At the end of the day, though, the thing that works against Jason Blake is that he's tied to a $4 million a year contract for the next 3 years after this season and he's getting paid more money than most people think he's worth at this time, but that's not his fault, but that's just the way it is.

Andrew Echevarria: Okay, thanks Bob. Now, I believe Tyler has a question too.

Tyler Hill: Yeah, this is a question about team chemistry and superstar players. What do you think is more important for a team. Is it more important that they have guys that have chemistry and know where each other is going to be at certain times in a game and they can trust players on their line, or do you think it'd be more beneficial to have a superstar player that u can rely on at all times during the game?

Bob McKenzie: Well, I think you need both. You gotta try to find both and get both, and that's what good teams have. Look at Detroit, they've got superstars like Zetterberg, Datsyuk, and Lidstrom, but they've also got incredible team chemistry.

So there's no reason why you can't have both, and that's what you gotta strive for, but in a short term, in the absence of talent, for a team like the Leafs that are rebuilding, you're doing what Ron Wilson is doing and that is trying to create an atmosphere/ environment where you increase the expectation level based on more accountability and try to foster team play and team spirit so that when you start to play, you've got that foundation in place.

Tyler Hill: Alright, thanks for the answer Bob. Andrew, next question?

Andrew Echevarria: This is kinda of a general one too, who do you think is the Leafs' MVP right now, with the current roster they have?

Bob McKenzie: Boy, that's a good question. I'm not sure I know the answer to that question. Probably Ponikarovsky or one of their high, but you almost stumpted me there I think. In some ways Luke Schenn can be one of their best defensemen even though he’s been hurt for a while, he’s only 18 years old.

Dominic Moore’s been very consistent for the Toronto Maple Leafs, but I’m not even sure what the answer to that question would even be. I think for a team that’s really waiting in many respects for somebody big to step up and be that go to guy, but by the same token when you look at the talent level on the team, Ron Wilson’s addressed this on numerous occasions, they don’t really have somebody that jumps out ahead of the club.

Andrew Echevarria: Thanks for the answer Bob. Now, Tyler has another question I believe.

Tyler Hill: Yeah, it’s about the Leafs’ trade for Lee Stempniak a while ago. Since coming to Toronto, Stempniak’s only managed 9 points, but Alex Steen, who they traded in a package deal with Carlo Colaiacovo, has put up 12 since he left Toronto. Do you think that Toronto made a bad move doing this or is the only reason Steen is producing right now is because he needed the change of scene.

Bob McKenzie: Well, I think Stempniak can play much better than he’s shown, and the fact that he hasn’t played well has him disappointed. I know he can score goals, he’s done that in his career, but either Toronto doesn’t have the right play-making centers to get a scoring winger the puck or he’s just coming up short.

Steen’s numbers aren’t terrific either in St. Louis and Colaiacovo’s been okay. I think that at the end of the day, for St. Louis to profit from the trade more than Toronto is probably a little bit greater, but I wouldn’t give up on Stempniak just yet.

Andrew Echevarria: This is my last question Bob. What exactly should the Leafs do with Toskala? Should they trade him? Should they keep him? What exactly should they do?

Bob McKenzie: Well, it really depends what the market is like for goaltenders at the trade deadline and how he’s playing. If he continues to be inconsistent and not play well, nobody’s going to want him, there’s not going to be a market, and there’s not much he can do with that.

If he’s playing extremely well and there is a team that needs a goaltender, then it probably makes sense for the Leafs to go ahead and trade him and probably get some younger aspects in place because the Leafs are in a long term rebuilding stage, it’s going to take 3 or 4 or 5 years, and by the time they get really competitive, Toskala’s probably not going to be a factor for them, so I think if they can, they should go get some young players and prospects and draft picks, but it depends on how he plays between now and the deadline.

Andrew Echevarria: Thanks Bob. Now, I think Tyler also has a final question.

Tyler Hill: Yeah, one last question here. Not as serious as the other ones we’ve asked. In the “Hockey News’s” top 100 people of power and influence, you are ranked at number 79 and Tiger Woods is ranked at 58 because of his comment that nobody really cares about hockey. What are your thoughts on that?

Bob McKenzie: I used to be the editor for the “Hockey News” and I used to put that list together, but when Tiger Woods talks hockey, lots more people listen to him talk it, than they listen to me talk it. He can have the spot, no problem.

Andrew Echevarria: Alright Bob, we really appreciate having you here tonight.

Tyler Hill: Yeah, it’s been an honour having you.

Bob McKenzie: Good luck with the program, thanks guys.


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