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Mailbag: 2 Fule 2 Furious

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More questions. More answers. Equal number of car chases.

Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

1. Is it harder to score a goal or prevent a goal? And show your work in detail.--jeffgm

I might disappoint with the simplicity of this answer, but...preventing a goal being scored, in any given instance, is easier than scoring one, because most plays do not end in a goal being scored.  Even in plays where a player generates a shot on goal, no player scores on more than a fifth of them consistently (and the guys who are scoring on a fifth of them are basically Tanguay, Stamkos and Bozak.)  At any given time, the people who are trying to score are probably in the process of failing, and the people trying to stop them are in the process of succeeding.  I'd make up some work to show in detail, but I don't think there's any tenable argument that scoring a goal is easier than stopping one, unless you're the Edmonton Oilers.

2. If Trump were a NHL hockey player whose playing style would he most resemble?--jeffgm

Steve Ott.  Overrated by people who don't know what they're talking about; terrible in reality; completely an asshole.

3. What is the one move at the draft you want the leafs to make?—thii

I had an answer for this that involved trading the 30th OA pick as part of a package for a right-hand defender, but luckily we've now made an aggressive deal with it and overpaid for the contract extension, so now I just want to hide under a desk.

4. You have to keep the one you choose for their entire career, no trades. Hypothetical scenario: You have to choose between 2 nearly identical forwards. Player A and Player B are the same age (for shits and giggles let's say 21), play the same position, have 2 seasons of identical NHL production (20 goals and 50 points and 51%CF each season) and have established themselves as Top 6 talents. Player A hits, fights, crashes the net, and is synonymous with "Canadian hockey". He also skates like he is churning butter. His first name is probably something like Doug or Joe or Bobby. Player B is positionally sound, reads the play well but is known as a smooth skating perimeter player who rarely engages physically, if at all.

Who do you take? The crowd pleaser who's play is likely to drop off a cliff when he hits 30, or the player who's likely to have a longer career if only for the fact that he takes less risks with his body?--thistypeofthinking

Tricky.  I'll level: I don't give a rat's ass about Canadian hockey if it doesn't produce better numbers, and in normal circumstances would happily take Player B all day.  However, the circumstances—where I'm tied to this player for his whole career—spin things a bit; the question winds up being "who will have the least damaging late-stage career."  If the rules are that I have to keep the player signed to my NHL team until he retires, there might actually be a benefit in having a player who had a more abrupt decline and thus an earlier retirement.  If a guy's scoring 50 points at 21, he's probably about done as an offensive contributor at 35 in either case, in which case I want rid of him regardless.  Not to mention, if I'm the Leafs and the NHL has somehow maintained the CBA status quo through 2030, I might be able to LTIR Doug-Joe Bobby, whereas Enigma McStereotype will probably be politely taking up space as my eleventh forward eighty nights a year.

So: give me the butter-churner, as long as I get Lou's crowbar in case I need it.

5. If you were a fish, what fish would you be? Sharks do not count—JaredFromLondon

Electric eel.  If I have to be a sea creature, I want to be the one who can go Emperor Palpatine on suckers.

Incidentally, while researching this question I found that jellyfish and starfish are not actually fish, and that the electric eel is not actually an eel.  What marine biologists are doing, I'll never know.

6. If you had to live in Tatamagouche or Upper Musquodoboit, which one would you choose and why?—Alspicer

Putting aside that this question literally translates to "you can have your clinical depression in vanilla or lemon sherbert!", it's a tough one.  I was originally leaning towards Tatamagouche, because it has five times as many people and sounds like Tamagotchi, one of the classic 90s experiences in Japanese monster-raising.  Then it occurred to me that when I had a Tamagotchi it died in like one second.  Bad precedent.

Plus, according to Wikipedia, Upper Musquodoboit "has a convenience store, an auto-body shop, and a limestone mine."  Sign me up.

7. Have you watched the new Voltron cartoon on Netflix? It's by some of the people who did Avatar and Korra.—SuperMaurice

I have not; to be honest, the only animated show I've watched much of in the past decade is Archer.  However, I did some reading on the show, and found the following character description:

"Coran, Allura's royal advisor, in charge of the Castle Control and the last known surviving male Altean. Coran is boisterous and confident, but his efforts to appear intelligent are undermined by his occasional buffoonery."

So there's already a character I identify with.

8. How many trades do you think the leafs will make between now and the start of free agency? (Including trade up/downs, player for player, etc)—BiggsMistake

I'll say three, including the one that happened yesterday.  Ideally we'll get P.K. Subban, but I'll settle for Erik Karlsson if I have to.

9. If you were writing fanfic about Auston Matthews, would you write him with Mitch Marner or William Nylander? Or someone else entirely?--Achariya

I'm sure it's being written as we speak, but Matthews-Laine is too perfect a dynamic to turn down.  Matthews has the stoic, responsible brilliance and Laine has the hotshot's ego with the skills to back it up.  Envision them as a couple of rookie cops who have to work a case together.  It seems open and shut at first, but they follow a thread that goes deeper—and higher—than they could have imagined.  COMING SOON TO A THEATRE NEAR YOU.

10. What do you think will be the single most surprising coaching decision Babcock will make next season?--Achariya

I think people will be surprised when they remember that Matt Hunwick is both on the roster and going to play above his talent level, but that's consistent with Babcock this season.  That aside, I think if Bozak stays on the roster, Babcock is going to use him much more prominently than people think.

11. Do you charge more or less than Alspicer?—Bcapp

I asked Alspicer if we could compare our hourly rates and he said it would cost me the gross domestic product of Malaysia just to get him to answer the question.

12. What came first: the chicken or the egg or Gordie Howe's elbows?—Bcapp

The question is answered by evolution.  Something evolved Gordie Howe's elbows before it started laying eggs, though we wouldn't call that something a chicken, because it would bodycheck us into outer space.

13. Is Phil Kessel a sandwich?—brigstew

Only on certain fanfiction websites.  Don't read anything tagged with a condiment.

14. Just because it's on my mind today: who has the nuttiest org chart in the NHL right now, and are any of these non-linear structures really a good idea?—KatyaKnappe

On paper, it's got to be Arizona at this point, doesn't it?  I have no idea how the Chayka-Tippett hierarchy is supposed to work.  As to whether it's smart or not--I tend to believe that flexible people can make a working organization out of a bad structure, but I don't think you get any benefit out of it.  You need people who collaborate, and you need a clear authority to make ultimate decisions.  Going kooky with the setup doesn't guarantee the former and may undermine the latter.

15. Could God make a burrito so hot that even He couldn't believe Randy Carlyle got his NHL coaching gig back?—clrkaitken

It was a matter of who and when, not whether.  "Two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity", and Einstein hadn't even seen the NHL hiring carousel.

16. Who Shot JR?—The Constant Gardiner

17. With the expected influx of Marlies over the next couple of years, how can we convince noted-no-fun-guy Sweet Lou to also promote "20 questions with..." to the big club? There's some funny guys on the way.—buddha hat

We have to two-step it.  First, while Lou's on top, we'll persuade him that 20 Questions is good media training, but only ask the players things like how much they love shaving.  When the more informal Dubas takes over, the format will be in place for us to ask creative questions and have the players inadvertently fuck up our ECHL affiliation.

18. What is the least likely move Lou makes?—Torontopackersnoles

There are two ways to read this question.  The first is the thing Lou is most unlikely to do, and the second is the most unlikely thing Lou actually winds up doing.

a)      I suspect that Lou is highly unlikely to morph into Izanagi-no-mikoto and commit to replenishing the population of Japan in a deistic contest with his forsaken sister-wife.

b)      Lou is capable of pretty much anything, but his Devils teams almost always had stud defencemen, and the Leafs currently do not.  I wouldn't be surprised to see Lou make a highly aggressive move for one, especially after the expansion draft in 2017; if he's got a stunner trade coming, I'd guess that'll be when and what.

19. What if we ate a whole big thing of ice cream?—Ghost of Bohonos

That's not gonna fly in this house!

20. Has there even been an act the Leafs have done that has caused you to question your fandom? Something that would make you walk away from the team?—Goldenhawk99

Honestly, no.  The Leafs being terrible just makes me more prone to ironic snark.  As Fiddy MC mentioned in the FTB, though, I (like him) didn't live through the Ballard era.  If I had, one or another of the million awful things he did might have done the trick.

21. What is the air speed velocity of an unladen Swallow?—Exit Steve Left

Google says 11 m/s.  I say a swallow that could be truly described as unladen—not weighed down with the cares and concerns that pull our bodies and hearts ever downward—is a swallow that could never exist in this savage world.

But yeah, 11 m/s.

22. It's been said that the Leafs have never had the best player in the league/world on their team at any given point. Who in Leafs history would you say got closest to that title?—Exit Steve Left

There are basically five guys in the running for this, so far as I can tell (I'm only looking back to 1950): Ted Kennedy, Frank Mahovolich, Darryl Sittler, Doug Gilmour, and Mats Sundin.  In a couple of cases, these guys were the best of the ordinary players when a couple of superhumans dominated (for Kennedy, Howe and Richard; for Gilmour, Gretzky and Lemieux.)  Mahovolich is trumped by Beliveau, but was really great for a few years in the early 60s.  Sittler has a pretty strong case that he was close to the best in 1978, given he was third in the NHL in scoring and the top guy, Lafleur, was playing for probably the most dominant team in history. 

But if you look at it how I look at it—which Leaf had the moment where a straight-up trade for the best player in the world would be the least lopsided—I think it's Mats in 2001-02.  He was fourth in the NHL in scoring, but there wasn't anyone who was performing at a level that far above him.  The only guy who was playing significantly in the NHL who was in another world career-wise was Jagr, and Jagr was having a down year (by his standards.)

23. Porkchop sandwiches?—scrambles the death dealer

24. How long til Randy gets canned again?—scrambles the death dealer

November 2018.  Book it.

25. Which Maple Leaf is the hottest?—Species 1967

I mean it's got to be Nyla—[Ed. Note: This answer has been terminated for Fulemin's safety.]

26. McKellen or Fassbender? Stewart or McAvoy?—Exit Steve Left

McKellen and Stewart were incredible in their roles as Magneto and Xavier, because obviously they were, but none of the original X-Men movies were nearly as enjoyable for me as First Class, and Fassbender and McAvoy are both very good actors.  I also don't think McKellen ever got a scene to match some of the ones Fassbender got early in FC.  I'll say Fassbender by a hair as Magneto and Stewart as Xavier.

27. Are you a robust moral realist?--rikersbeard

Nah.  Ethical subjectivist.

28. If you had to choose between eating pancakes or waffles every day for the rest of your life, which would you choose?--rikersbeard

Waffles.  Pancakes are better as an occasional food, but you get tired of them faster, and eating them every day seems hellish.

29. The Kessel trade looked bad at the time and it looks bad in retrospect. What do you think would have been a fair yet seemingly realistic return from the Pens for Kessel?--rikersbeard

If we'd managed to lever Derrick Pouliot out of them instead of Harrington and hadn't retained salary, I'd have had an easier time swallowing it, and it's not that far from the actual deal.  The Pens presumably weren't going to give up much off their everyday roster.

30. Suppose that Nylander has had a massive falling out with the organization because of _________. All of our hearts are broken. You are brought in to advise Shanaloubas. Who do you recommend they target in a trade for our dear Snizzbone?--rikersbeard

Hoo boy.  I think in a deal like this you really have to engineer as much of a bidding war as you can manage, because you're set up to lose the trade.  We aren't so deep at any position that I think you can say it's a definite non-need.  So your public attitude has to be "we don't expect to trade him, but of course, we do listen to offers for any player."  Even if it seems obvious to everyone and their dog we have to trade him, players don't have much leverage on ELCs, as Jonathan Drouin recently discovered.  Be like the promiscuous friend in a lousy bro comedy: don't commit to anything and don't fall in love too quickly.

If I have to really zero in—Minnesota needs to be aggressive to improve without breaking the cap, and Nylander would be a godsend for them both now and in the future; plus they have a glut on defence.  I've already advocated targeting Matt Dumba, and if he were the biggest of a couple of pieces coming back, I would think we did okay with a gun to our heads.

31. Which Ducks player is going to take the role of Jake Gardiner in Randy's doghouse?—holymackinaw

My money's on the newly-extended Sami VatanenHampus Lindholm (should he return) is more of a fancy-stat darling, but Lindholm is also big and has a name that sort of sounds like Niklas Lidstrom, who was the only top-three defenceman Carlyle didn't have when he won the Cup.  Vatanen is small, and he produces too many points to be entirely trustworthy.

32. Did you bite off more than you can chew?—scrambles the death dealer

Ain't got no trouble chewing.  I got a mouth full of diamonds.

33. Why aren't you taller?—not norm ullman

I don't know.  I would also like answers as to why I am not a baller and why I lack a six-four Impala.

34. How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?—Fifty Mission Cap

He would chuck as much wood as a woodchuck could, same number same hood, it's all good.  And if you don't know, now you know.

35. I guess I'd ask how many Leafs rookies will play 50 or more games this season?--Bruceki

Using the Calder Trophy standard of "no more than 25 NHL games played prior to this season and no older than 26", I'm going to say six.  Nylander, Matthews, Marner, and Zaitsev seem like locks to me, and then I think two of Soshnikov, Brown, Johnson, Leipsic and Hyman are going to make the number.  Connor Carrick doesn't qualify, if anyone's wondering.

Thanks to everyone who contributed, you weird, weird people.