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From the Branches: Second-best Kessel comes through

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Phil phrased it best.

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

And the dunks kept coming:


Bye, Team USA. Few people are gonna miss you. I sincerely hope next national team has an entirely different construction, from the GM on down.

"Instead of a quality Team USA, one that would be fun to watch, we were left with half a team. Hopefully next time, the powers that be recognize the changing landscape in the game of hockey. Team USA stunk, and it started from the top."

Burn down Team USA, from its philosophy to its leadership | Puck Daddy
"Team USA’s 4-2 loss to the Canadians on Tuesday night in the World Cup was the final shovel of dirt on this group. They lost the game to their arch-rival and lost any chance to advancing to the World Cup quarterfinal. The United States of America will play a meaningless game against the Czech Republic to end group play on Thursday night. Team Europe, which was literally invented last year, will instead advance along with Canada."

Hockey News

Maple Leafs' Zaitsev holding his own at World Cup of Hockey | Toronto Sun
Are you confident you will crack the Maple Leafs’ lineup out of training camp? "Of course," Zaitsev said without hesitation. "It’s why I’m here."

Toronto Maple Leafs Roundtable: Favorite Leafs Enforcer | Editor in Leaf
"My favorite enforcer of all time would have to be Gary Roberts. To me, an effective enforcer is not someone who goes on the ice just to start a fight."

Maple Leafs: How does Matthews’ World Cup success affect the Leafs? | Editor in Leaf
"Well, if people didn’t know how good Auston Matthews is, they know now. The Maple Leafs forward has been the big attraction at the Air Canada Center, and he hasn’t even tried on his new Leafs jersey yet."

On this episode, the guys talk about the World Cup of Hockey, the McDavid-Matthews connection, and general nonsense.

Why World Hockey Tournaments Don't Matter as Much Anymore | Rolling Stone
"It says something about the hockey that as much as these games were framed as indicative of the Cold War, of different sensibilities and dueling ideologies, sport was transcending all of that, this need to be able to say, 'Screw you, dudes, we are the best in the world, not you.'"

8 people under the bright spotlight at the World Cup | Sporpsnet
"So today, let’s take a look some of those who find themselves under an especially bright spotlight this week. Here are the eight names who have the most to gain – or lose – from their time on the World Cup stage."

Florida Panthers GM says Aaron Ekblad is OK, headed home after concussion | Miami Herald
Will Team NA still be competitive without their 1D?

Canadiens coach Therrien denies calling Pacioretty worst captain ever | Winnipeg Sun

Today's important reading:

John Tortorella's stance is firm, but what does it say about inclusiveness in hockey? | ESPN
[JT] Brown is not part of Team USA; Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien is the only player of color on the American roster. Asked about Tortorella's comments before the tournament began, Byfuglien essentially said players remained free to protest: "You still do it. But you take your chances." He was a healthy scratch for Saturday's opening game against Team Europe.