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nine points in 42 games with the Leafs.

  • May 23, 2017 4:12 AM BST

    “I can tell you here now: He will go right to the top, right to the very top. Nicklas Grossmann Flames Jersey . Hes got everything thats needed to be a top midfield player. His attitude is first class, hes got strength, he can play, he can pass it and he can score goals,” prophesized Harry Redknapp. Its fall 1996, a West Ham supporters summit and a clearly agitated Redknapp had just been taken to task for selecting then-18-year old Frank Lampard ahead of other more experienced players. Lampard had made his debut in West Hams starting XI away to Arsenal just a few months earlier. Substituted in a losing cause, Lampard would feature in only 13 matches during that 1996-97 campaign. It was a season in which he picked up more yellow cards than he scored goals. Redknapp knew full well even back then West Ham had unearthed a gem. So likely did his assistant coach and ex-teammate at West Ham, Frank Lampard Sr. Playing in an era of outrageously inflated transfer prices Chelsea manager Claudio Ranieri was astute back in the summer of 2001 to pay West Ham £11m [$20m CAD] to acquire Lampards services. "Hopefully I can test myself against the best players in Europe and we can contest for trophies,” Lampard was quoted as saying at the time. Three Premier League titles, four FA Cups, a Europa League and Champions League crown later, Lampard has decided his Chelsea playing days are now behind him and on his own terms. Although still under contract until June 30, the clubs all-time leading scorer (211 goals) made the announcement to coincide with Englands arrival into Miami. Lampard wants to be fully focused on what will be his third World Cup Finals. Amassing close to 600 appearances, only two players have ever appeared more times in a Chelsea shirt. over the course of his 13 seasons Lampard is without exception one of Chelseas greatest ever players. Not wanting to name him their best ever, the tribute on the clubs web site strongly implied Lampard was their best ever midfield player. It was Lampard who scored both goals in the game against Bolton in April 2005 which handed Chelsea their first title in exactly 50 years. Breaking the club scoring record which had stood for over four decades towards the very end of the 2012-13 season Lampards most important goal for the club occurred in the second leg of the 2008 Champions League semi-final in a game against arch-rivals Liverpool, which I was very privileged to attend. Lampard was not even expected to play that day. He had recently missed a pair of Premier League games to be at the bedside of his gravely ill mother, who sadly passed away a few days after the first leg. Play though he did, the Chelsea players wore black arm bands in memory of Lampards mother. The tie was very delicately poised after the first leg at Anfield had finished 1-1. Chelsea with the away goal were slight favourites going in, but Liverpool had got the better of Chelsea twice at this stage in 2005 and 2007. Didier Drogba opened the scoring, for Fernando Torres to level it just after the hour mark. Extra time loomed, it was a very highly charged Stamford Bridge. Less than 10 minutes into extra time after Michael Ballack was bought down in the area Chelsea were awarded a penalty. Up stood Frank Lampard. Hands on his hips, he stood at the edge of the box and waited for what must have seemed like an eternity as Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina did his best to delay and distract. Lampard was having none of it. The ref blew the whistle, and with that trademarked run up to the ball he sent Reina the wrong way as he slotted the ball into the far right corner. Lampard took off for the opposite corner flag, and took with him the hearts of the 40,000 plus Chelsea supporters inside Stamford Bridge. As he got close to the corner flag he slowed down to remove his black arm band, then with his hands covering his face Lampard slumped to his knees. Joined by his teammates, there was no celebration when Lampard emerged with all emotion completely drained from his face. On running back to the halfway line Lampard looked up in the direction of where his dad and other members of his family were gathered. He waved and blew a kiss to them. The match finished 3-2 and Chelsea were off to their first Champions League Final. Away from the pitch Lampard is an all-too-rare breed when it comes to English footballers. Intelligent, staunchly working class, he attended a private high school where he was one of the more promising students. Not everyone aced Latin, Lampard did. In 2009 Chelsea conducted IQ tests on the playing squad. Although the club did not officially reveal the results it was reported Lampard scored over 150. That places him in Bill Gates territory. In March this year Lampard launched the BPLs annual childrens reading challenge held each season in conjunction with the National Literary Trust. Lampard disclosed his favorite book was a biography on U.S. President Abraham Lincoln... All 900 pages of it. Lampard the family man was also to surface shortly after 2009s highly published break-up with his fiancée, Elen Rives the mother of his two children. A London radio station talk show host openly criticized Lampard on the basis of a newspaper article which had quoted Rives. So incensed by the inaccuracy of the hosts comments Lampard called in live to the show and put the record straight in a conversation which lasted 10 minutes. I cant imagine there would be too many other BPL players who would take such initiative. Petra Cech referred to Lampard as one of the most influential players of all time in the Premier League. Make that on and off the pitch. Hell be dearly missed at Chelsea. When he met the press ahead of Englands World Cup tune-up on Wednesday he said he would return to Stamford Bridge to attend matches. Lampard lives within walking distance to the ground. Abramovich has offered to keep a job open for him. On June 20 Lampard will turn 36. Having already played Italy and Uruguay by then, Englands fate in the group stage may already have been decided. Lampard will walk away from the international arena at the conclusion of Englands World Cup. Chelsea, and Englands loss will be MLS gain. Noel Butler can be reached at: Noel.Butler@BellMedia.ca Twitter: @TheSoccerNoel TSN Radio is an official licensed radio broadcaster of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil. Action gets underway Thursday, June 12 with Brazil vs. Croatia. Kick Off is at 4pm et /1pm pt. Dougie Hamilton Jersey . -- Edwin Encarnacion hit a three-run homer, Colby Rasmus drove in two runs and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Detroit Tigers 9-4 on Saturday. Kris Versteeg Flames Jersey . The right-hander said he threw about 30 pitches in a routine bullpen session Sunday at Yankee Stadium, his final hurdle before starting Tuesday night at Tampa Bay.TORONTO – Two times in the past three seasons, the hockey team from Toronto has collapsed under city-rattling circumstances, including a rapid descent from near-certain playoff entry last season. In between was a valiant stab at the first Leaf post-season series win in years from a feisty, competitive group – albeit, one that probably benefited from the 48-game schedule. Looking to recapture some of that magic, Leafs management made character, attitude, leadership and qualities of mental fortitude high priorities in their bid at roster reconstruction on July 1st. Led by president Brendan Shanahan and incumbent general manager Dave Nonis, the club reacquired two players from that 2013 squad – Leo Komarov and Matt Frattin – also adding 37-year-old Stephane Robidas to a defence that recently replaced the steady Carl Gunnarsson with edgy-type Roman Polak. “Part of it is always about character,” said Nonis, shortly after 5pm et, when the Leafs first crack at free agency ended. “I dont think that we have a character issue with our team or our players, but I think adding people like Leo and Robidas to [the roster] only strengthens it. The compete level that we had two years ago, I think was at or near the top of the league. We got more out of our players – the coaches did – the players, themselves, did in terms of pushing each other, than we did last year. No question about it.” Randy Carlyle couldnt summon much in the way of explanation as to why things unraveled for the Leafs so epically months earlier, but did notice something amiss with the attitude of his group. “We lacked the compete,” he said, while at the draft in Philadelphia this past weekend. “I look at compete as part of the character flaw.” It was clear management sensed something similar, though character and leadership would hardly encompass the Leafs woeful defence and penalty-killing, targeting players in free agency or on the trade market who were known for their high compete level. In addition to Komarov and Robidas, the club also made pitches to keep gritty, but soon-to-be overpaid, Dave Bolland, 38-year-old former Team Canada defender Dan Boyle and long-time Montreal heart-and-soul type, Josh Gorges. Robidas, who was signed for three years at $9 million, offers the Leafs a much-needed veteran upgrade in their top-four, a long-time Dallas Star whos physical, blocks shots and has the ability to play in every situation. A right-handed defender, in short supply for the club a year ago, and veteran of 885 regular season games, Robidas brings a savvy that was lacking on a mismatched back-end last season. “It was a factor,” Nonis said of character when it came to Robidas, who suffered two separate, broken right-leg injuries last season, but will be ready for training camp. “The people that I know that know him, that Brendan knows, speak very highly of the way he handles himself, on and off the ice. I dont think were looking at a guy thats going to come in here and be terribly vocal or anything like that, but in terms of playing the game the right way, taking care of yourself and leading by example, that coupled with being a right-shot and his playing ability, he was the guy we targeted right away.” Komarov bolted for the KHL after that 2013 campaign, but was eager to return to the NHLL-lifestyle this fall. Joe Nieuwendyk Jersey.  He garnered considerably more than the club appeared willing to pay just one year earlier, four years at $2.95 million per season, and quite a bit for a player who was limited offensively as a Leaf. It was clear, however, that Nonis and company valued the Finnish wingers scrappy play and were also hopeful of more upside with more opportunity next season. “Hes a very competitive guy,” said Nonis of Komarov, who had nine points in 42 games with the Leafs. “Hes going to give you whatever he has … He has compete. He gets under peoples skin by the way he plays, not because hes a chirper or anything like that, but he finishes every single check and, sometimes, I think people dont really enjoy the way he does that. But for us, he brought that element; he brought some character to our group. He was very well-liked by his teammates. All the things that you look for in a player, he ticks a lot of boxes.” Polak, too, was added from St. Louis earlier with an eye toward the “edge” he would bring to the Toronto defence, a quality infinitely enduring to the head coach. But for the all the focus on injecting the Leafs dressing room with more bite, increased leadership and character, its Carlyle and the still-yet-to-be-named coaching staff that bear the most watching next season. For whatever the Leafs lacked in determination and persistence last year – and there was a noticeable difference – it was their inability to defend with any degree of success that instigated their downfall last season. No team, as widely known by this point, allowed more shots than Toronto and only three teams allowed more power-play goals. It was a house of cards that was bound to collapse and did when Jonathan Bernier went down with injury in mid-March. And for all his drum-beating about the troubles, and he was quick to point flaws as early as October, Carlyle and his since-deposed trio of assistants could not find the right answers, instill a defensive mindset onto a sometimes immature roster, employ top line-ups and align the talent in place with a suitable style of play. All that will have to change and its up to Carlyle to adjust accordingly. The coming season wont be about leadership concerns or questions of character, but whether a head coach can adapt to a younger and faster league. Robidas, Polak and Komarov should help to address some of the defensive deficiencies of last year – also fitting Carlyles harder brand of hockey – particularly a penalty kill that fell right back to the bottom of the league last season. Roster holes still to be filled include a centre capable of playing in a third or fourth-line capacity – Peter Holland is in line for regular opportunity, but a security blanket for Carlyle is likely preferred – perhaps another defenceman, with Cody Franson likely on the way out, some scoring depth and a backup goaltender, though, Nonis continues to insist that James Reimer could be back next year, despite clear indications of his desire to move elsewhere. Some of those changes could come internally with a round of Marlies keen to take the next step into the NHL. The Leafs additionally have about $15 million in cap space to work with a group of restricted free agents, Jake Gardiner most prominently among them, still to sign. Cheap NFL Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys China Cheap Jerseys From China Cheap NFL Jerseys Authentic Wholesale Jerseys China Cheap NFL Jerseys China NFL Cheap Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys ' ' '