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Saturday’s FTB: Great Expectations

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What were your expectations going into this season? Where are the Leafs now?

Toronto Maple Leafs v Calgary Flames Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images

My father’s family name being Nylander, and my Christian name William, William Nylander that is, my infant tongue could make of both names nothing longer or more explicit than Snizzbone. So, I called myself Snizzbone, and came to be called Snizzbone. I give Nylander as my father’s family name, on the authority of his tombstone and my sister - Daniella, who married the blacksmith.

As I never saw my father or my mother, and never saw any likeness of either of them (for their days were long before the days of Instagram), my first fancies regarding what they were like, were unreasonably derived from their newspaper cutouts. The shape of the letters on my father’s player profile, gave me an odd idea that he was a scrawny, slight, pale man, with sleek blonde hair. From the character and turn of the article, ‘Also Camilla, Wife of Michael,’ I drew a childish conclusion that my mother was freckled and sickly.

To five little rubber pucks, each about a foot and a half long, which were arranged in a neat row beside their black and white newspaper photo, and were sacred to the memory of five siblings of mine - who gave up trying to get a living in Buffalo, exceedingly early in that universal struggle - I am indebted for a belief I religiously entertained that they had all been born on their backs with their hands in their trousers-pockets, and had never taken them out in this state of existence.

Ours was the Mimico country, down by the Great Lake, within, as the coast wound, miles of the rink. My first most vivid and broad impression of the identity of things, seems to me to have been gained on a memorable raw afternoon towards evening. At such a time I found out for certain, that this bleak place overgrown with hipsters was the downtown core; and that Michael Nylander, late of this professional hockey league, and also Camilla wife of the above, were retired back to Sweden; and that Alexander, Stephanie, Jacqueline, Daniella, and Michelle, infant children of the aforesaid, were also returning to Sweden; and that the dark flat wilderness beyond the churchyard, intersected with dykes and mounds and gates, with scattered cattle feeding on it, was the ice rinks; and that the low leaden line beyond, was the river; and that the distant savage lair from which the wind was rushing, was the sea; and that the small bundle of shivers growing afraid of it all and beginning to cry, was Snizzbone. ‘Hold your noise!’ cried a terrible voice, as a man started up from among the graves at the side of the church porch. ‘Keep still, you little devil, or I’ll cut your ice time!’

A fearsome coach, all in blue practice wear, with a great iron blades on his feet. A coach with a Leafs hat, and with a scarred chin, and with an old whistle tied round his neck. A man who had been soaked in sweat, and smothered in snow, and tamed by Saskatoon, and cut by skates, and stung by slashes, and torn by elbows; who limped, and shivered, and glared and growled; and whose teeth chattered in his head as he seized me by the chin.

‘O! Don’t cut my ice time, sir,’ I pleaded in terror. ‘Pray don’t do it, sir.’

‘Tell us your name!’ said the coach. ‘Quick!’

‘Snizzbone, sir.’

‘Once more,’ said the coach, staring at me. ‘Give it mouth!’

‘Snizzbone. Snizzbone, sir.’

‘Show us where you live,’ said the coach. ‘Point out the place!’

I pointed to where our luxury apartment lay, on the flat in-shore among the alder-trees and pollards, a mile or more from the rink. The man, after looking at me for a moment, turned me upside down, and emptied my pockets. There was nothing in them but a piece of a second unit power play shift. When the rink came to itself - for he was so sudden and strong that he made it go head over heels before me, and I saw the ice under my feet - when the rink came to itself, I say, I was seated on the high boards, trembling, while he ate the ice time ravenously.

‘You young dog,’ said the coach, licking his lips, ‘what fat ice time you ha’ got.’ I believe they were fat, though I was at that time underplayed for my years, and not strong. ‘Darn me if I couldn’t eat it,’ said the coach, with a threatening shake of his head, ‘and if I han’t half a mind to’t!’

I earnestly expressed my hope that he wouldn’t, and held tighter to the boards on which he had put me; partly, to keep myself upon it; partly, to keep myself from crying.

‘Now lookee here!’ said the coach. ‘Where’s your agent?’

‘There, sir!’ said I. He started, made a short run to Ricoh, and stopped and looked over his shoulder. ‘There, sir!’ I timidly explained. ‘Also Michael. That’s my father.’

‘Oh!’ said he, coming back. ‘And is that your trainer alonger your agent?’

‘Yes, sir,’ said I; ‘him too; late of this league.’

‘Ha!’ he muttered then, considering. ‘Who d’ye play with - supposin’ you’re kindly let to play, which I han’t made up my mind about?’

‘My teammate, sir - Mr. Mitchell Marner - son of Biblo, the hobbit, sir.’

‘Hobbit, eh?’ said he. And looked down at his whistle. After darkly looking at his whislte and me several times, he came closer to my seat on the boards, took me by both arms, and tilted me back as far as he could hold me; so that his eyes looked most powerfully down into mine, and mine looked most helplessly up into his. ‘Now lookee here,’ he said, ‘the question being whether you’re to be let to played. You know what backchecking is?’

‘Yes, sir.’

‘And you know what dump and chase is?’

‘Yes, sir.’

After each question he tilted me over a little more, so as to give me a greater sense of helplessness and danger.

‘You get me a Goat.’ He tilted me again. ‘And you get me Martin.’ He tilted me again. ‘You bring ‘em both to me.’ He tilted me again. ‘Or I’ll have your power play and overtime ice time out.’ He tilted me again.

I was dreadfully frightened, and so giddy that I clung to him with both hands, and said, ‘If you would kindly please to let me play on the power play, sir, perhaps I shouldn’t be pointless, and perhaps I could score more.’

He gave me a most tremendous dip and roll, so that the rink jumped over its own ice-surface. Then, he held me by the arms, in an upright position on the top of the stone, and went on in these fearful terms: ‘You bring me, to-morrow morning early, that Goat and that Martin. You bring the both to me, at that old defensive zone over yonder. You do it, and you never dare to say a word or dare to make a sign concerning your having seen such a coach as me, or any person sumever, and you shall be let to play. You fail, or you go from my words in any blogger, no matter how small the quote is, and your power play and your overtime ice time shall be tore out, roasted and ate.

“Now, I ain’t alone, as you may think I am. There’s a young assistant hid with me, in comparison with which young man I am a Angel. That young assistant hears the shifts I speak. That young assistant has a secret shift-making pecooliar to himself, of getting at a boy, and at his power play, and at his top line minutes. It is in wain for a boy to attempt to hide himself from that young assistant. A boy may lock his Corsi, may be warm on Matthews’ line, may tuck his points up, may win the faceoffs on Matthews’ weak side, may think himself comfortable and safe, but that young assistant will softly creep and creep his way to him and tear his icetime open.

“I am a-keeping that young assistant from harming of you at the present moment, with great difficulty. I find it very hard to hold that young assistant off of your ice time. Now, what do you say?’

I said that I would get him the Goat, and I would get him what broken bits of fourth liners I could, and I would come to him at the defensive zone, early in the morning.

‘Say Lou strike you medically unfit to play if you don’t!’ said the coach. I said so, and he took me down. ‘Now,’ he pursued, ‘you remember what you’ve undertook, and you remember that young assistant, and you get home!’

‘Goo-good night, sir,’ I faltered.

‘Much of that!’ said he, glancing about him over the cold wet flat. ‘I wish I was a GM. Or a President!’ At the same time, he hugged his shuddering body in both his arms - clasping himself, as if to hold himself together - and limped towards the low boards. As I saw him go, picking his way among the pylons, and among the pucks that lay in black mounds, he looked in my young eyes as if he were eluding the hands of the dead people, stretching up cautiously out of their graves, to get a twist upon his ankle and pull him in.

When he came to the low boards, he got over it, like a man whose legs were numbed and stiff, and then turned round to look for me. When I saw him turning, I set my face towards the offensive zone, and made the best use of my legs. But presently I looked over my shoulder, and saw him going on again towards the dressing room, still hugging himself in both arms, and picking his way with his sore feet among the great walls dropped into the hallways here and there, for stepping-places when the media mobs were heavy, or Bon Jovi was in.

The rink was just a long icy horizontal line then, as I stopped to look after him; and the rink was just another horizontal line, not nearly so broad nor yet so white; and the ceiling was just a row of long banners and dense black rafters intermixed. On the edge of the rink I could faintly make out the only two blonde things in all the Finns that seemed to be standing upright; one of these was the prospect by which the defenders flailed with their sticks - like an unhooped cask upon a pole - an young thing when you were near him; the other a Finnish Estonian-Russian Swede, with some chains hanging from which had once held an Arab-Canadian.

The Finnish Estonian-Russian Swede was limping on towards this Arab-Canadian, as if he were come to life, and come down, and going back to hook himself up again. It gave me a terrible turn when I thought so; and as I saw the forwards lifting their heads to gaze after him, I wondered whether they thought so too. I looked all round for the horrible young assistant coach, and could see no signs of him. But, now I was frightened again, and ran home without stopping.

ONTO THE LINKS!

The Toronto Maple Leafs take on the Ottawa Senators tonight, where if Morgan Rielly is healthy he will surely have his butt stapled to his own blue line so he can’t pinch against them.

Why bother to win when you can’t lose? | by Katya

A Quick and Dirty Survey of Eastern Conference Right-Shooting Defencemen | by Fulemin

James van Riemsdyk isn’t Sheltered, he’s a Role Player | a FanPost by chachimouchacha

Mike Babcock needs to stop playing Roman Polak so much | by Katya

Women’s Hockey Wednesday: Jessica Platt has something to say | by nafio and Annie

Who Dunn it? Vince’s family awakes to message in the snow after son scores Blues’ OT winner in Toronto | by Jeremy Rutherford of The Athletic, and don’t worry it’s not what you’d expect.

Travis Dermott might be really good | by Dylan Fremlin at The Leafs Nation

Toronto Marlies: 2017-18 Midseason Review & Player Grades | by Mark Rackham at Maple Leaf Hot Stove

AROUND THE NHL

Dustin Brown did this:

For that, Dustin Brown got a fine of $10,000.

Dustin Brown makes $6.5 million per year, or just under $80,000 per game. He basically makes $10,000 in less than a period of play.

I feel like a broken record every time I write an FTB these days, but...

In other news, Aaron Ekblad who is still only 21 years old somehow scored the OT winner for Florida over Vegas, and then celebrated like a teenager while wearing a 40 year old lumberjack’s body.

Also Montreal won a game or something but no one cares about that because BWAHAHAHAHA DRAMATITUDE PROBLEMS!!!

Have a great lazy Saturday everyone!

Help us Mochi-Won Shibainubi, you’re our only hope

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