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Mailbag: The Leafs’ Fourth Line and Social Media Ethics

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All that and more in this edition of the mailbag.

Toronto Maple Leafs v Boston Bruins - Game Seven Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

You have been presented with a monkey’s paw, and in traditional monkey’s paw it grants you three wishes.

However, unlike the tradition, each wish is not tainted with ironical bad happenings, simply probability. Only one of the wishes will backfire, but which finger the bad wish is on is random.

So what do you do? Do you go for broke and just wish for what you want not caring which wish gets tainted, or do you have a strategy? Start small hoping the bad wish breaks first so you can get down to business with the final two, or do you go for broke with the first wish and go from there?—Jared From London

The replies to this one were wild and extremely thought-provoking. The general thought seemed to be that if one of the first two backfired, you could use a subsequent wish to repair the backfire, and if neither of the first two did, you could just skip the third wish.

The only problem with this would be if the first/second wish blows up so badly you can no longer wish for stuff. Presumably me wishing for a billion dollars and then getting a billion dollars dropped on me, killing me, is going to be tough to come back from. Notwithstanding this, I probably wish for the moon first go and then hope the moon doesn’t land on my apartment.

Since training camp is depth player obsession season, how many different combinations of current Leafs players can you put together to make a plausible fourth line?

Bonus points if you dare to do the third pairing D.—Katya Knappe

A lot!

Basically you can have Ennis, Leivo, or Trevor Moore at LW; Lindholm, Jooris, or even Ennis/Cracknell at C; Jooris, Kapanen, Brown, or Cracknell at RW. That said, “plausible” in terms of the Leafs right now guarantees RW is one of Kappy/Brown and I don’t think Moore is going to get in there. Ennis - Lindholm - Cracknell sounds good to me, but I could still see Babcock going with any of about twelve different options.

As for the third pair....to start I think it’s very likely Dermott is 3LD; I would not bet on him bumping Hainsey out of camp. 3RD is, in decreasing order of likelihood, Carrick, Borgman, Ozhiganov, Holl, Rosen, Marincin, but I could seriously see it being any of those six. That job is wide open, even though I think it’ll go to Carrick.

(1) What are your predictions for Atlantic division standings by the end of the 2018-19 regular season?

(2) What do you think the Leafs’ current Cup contention window is?

(3) If you had to attend a geek convention in full cosplay, what would you dress up as?—Achariya

(1) 1. Tampa Bay

2. Toronto

3. Boston

4. Florida (WC)

5. Montreal

6. Buffalo

7. Detroit

8. Ottawa

(2) The Leafs have a semi-window right now where they’re probably about a top-five team in the NHL, and I think that should at least last the next four years, but age is a funny thing. Three of the Leafs’ most important players are so young the window could wind up extending; of course, luck being what it is, the window could also close all of a sudden.

(3) I’m the worst imaginable person for costumes. Maybe Roland Deschain, at least that way I get cool guns.

If a team called and offered you [defense man] for Kadri, which player would it have to be to make you take that trade? Or put another way, what is your cutoff point where you would be willing to take away from the centre depth to strengthen our D-core?—John van Nieuwendyk

Honestly it would probably have to be a top-40 defenceman in the NHL and they would have to have at least two years on a not-bad contract. I recognize that just means I’m never trading Kadri, but I am strongly convinced that our three-headed monster is such a strength that trading it for less than a substantial upgrade on D. I would rather dominate at centre than at defence. VIVA LOS GOLS

The Leafs scored 277 goals last season, good for 5th in the NHL. If you were a betting man, do you take the over or the under on them scoring that many this season?—Goldenhawk99

Over. Kadri might regress a bit and JVR is going to be missed, but I’m hoping for a full year out of Auston, a mild bump from Willie, and...there’s something else, I just can’t put my finger on it.

Jonathan is on a train headed to Montreal to see the Habs lose. His train is travelling at a speed of 47 km/hr and leaves at 1:05 PM. Annie is on a high speed train from Montreal to Toronto cause she just can’t take the horrors of being there anymore. She left at 12:58 at a speed of 85 km/hr. Describe in words, and showing your work, exactly at what time both of them will throw up their hands in excitement at Matthews’ first hat trick against the Habs. What formulas did you use?—cagedmercury

Both of them will be ecstatic the whole time. Matthews transcends time and space with his goal scoring. The trains are simultaneously moving and not moving due to the reality-warping impact of his offence.

You have found a magical, wish-granting leprechaun (which is a TOTALLY different scenario than any type of monkey’s paw); however, he is an assholes and is only going to do sports related wishes and even then only with bad consequences involved.

Your wish(es? It’ll depend on his mood after the first one if you get more) WILL result in what you want happening… But if you wish for the Leafs to win the Cup, it’ll only happen with Slava Voynov and similar garbage people making up the team. If you wish for Erik Karlsson to sign with the Leafs on a drastically discounted free agent deal, he will but will then suffer a career ending injury with the league deciding he can’t be LTIRed for… Reasons.

Anyway, totally different from a monkey’s paw, what do you do?—SlickWill

Depends on the severity of the consequences. From what you’ve described in the two examples, I wouldn’t wish at all...

...unless the consequences are just opposite to the perceived benefit of the wish, and do not involve my fan loyalties. Because I’m going to wish for Montreal to get a 1C.

I think that could end very nicely.

With training camp upon us, which Leafs player do you think is gonna come “in the best shape of his life”?—Kronzor

All of them, probably, but especially Tyler Ennis. He’s perceived as coming off a down year.

Nafio noted to me that Garret Sparks is allegedly always in the best shape of his life, if you go by his interview quotes.

Which EV/IV system in pokemon did you prefer? The lesser IV but more extensive EV system in Gen I or the more comprehensive IV and relatively restricted EV system of Gen III and beyond?—Brigstew

It’s sort of a mixture. For people less nerdy than Brigs and I, IVs are stats that are just pre-set for each Pokemon; there’s nothing you can do except keep catching different ones until you get IVs you like. EVs are stats you can work on yourself.

There is a gameplay-related reason for IVs, to make it so not all monsters are the same, but for larger battle purposes it’s a pain. I don’t want to be at the mercy of whichever person spent 15 hours resetting so his Suicune had perfect IVs in Special Defence. I’d rather they all be even. EVs, however, got better in later generations, because it was cool to specialize your monster in different ways, and I think that’s legit. So...both, and neither :P

So if you had the chance to have a beverage with any past or present NHLer … but you can’t talk hockey at all.

1. What drink are you ordering for both of you?

2. What player are you sitting with?

3. Where are you enjoying the drink?

4. The topic you would want to discuss?—DanOfTheNorth

This is an excellent question. Bourbon, Ken Dryden, summer patio, and what he thinks of the modern Liberal Party. THAT’S RIGHT. DEEP THOUGHTS.

Seeing as school is back in session, what was your favourite subject in high school? Least favourite?

And, hypothetically, what would be your absolute best semester course, and what would be the worst?—Mr Smithy

My favourite subject was Drama (Acting isn’t just there for the DMX joke, folks) and my least favourite was probably French, although I did okay in it in high school. Assuming I can’t make up a course like “an in-depth understanding of the game Final Fantasy X”, my best grade in university was logic and my worst was French lit. Fuckin’ Emile Zola.

There is a prevailing thought a lot of places that Starship’s “We Built This City” is the worst song of all time. Is it really?—Mike Brown’s Moustache

A lot of people immediately responded to this to point out that this song is not the worst song of all time. It isn’t, but I think we should also be clear here: that song is fucking garbage. There was a strain of rock in the 80s that was just awful, vaguely uplifting arena trash and it had all the forced enthusiasm of a Glasgow Smile. It deserves to be reviled by future generations.

“We Built This City” did win “Worst Song” contests for Blender, Rolling Stone, and GQ magazines, which were mostly focused on songs that were popular enough to really earn people’s hatred through being played a lot. There are a lot of contenders on that basis, but I will say the worst song that I’ve had to hear repeatedly is that awful “Christmas Shoes” song the radio plays every year. It is the schmaltziest, most manipulative braindead written-by-a-committee-in-a-laboratory-in-hell prefabricated button-pushing skin crawling seasonal torture rack. That song makes me hate Christmas. It makes me wish the Grinch had wiped out Whoville with bubonic plague. If ISIS were trying to recruit me they would put “WE WILL OUTLAW CHRISTMAS SHOES” on the brochure and I would honestly have to think about whether terrorism was right for me. I hate that song so much.

Loaded Series of Four Questions—The Constant Gardiner

1) Should there be a statute of limitations on social media posts?

Not so much a statue of limitations. More a requirement of redemption proportionate to the problematic thing the person said.

If you made a dumb, offensive joke when you were 15 and now you no longer make dumb, offensive jokes, I’m pretty much fine with you just saying “I’m sorry, that was dumb” and we all move on. If you recited the 14 Words and went on about how you think the Federal Reserve is a conspiracy of World Jewry, well, I probably want a sustained pattern of evidence that you’re not a neo-Nazi these days.

In terms of how to weight this stuff: I think it’s proportionate to, and relevant to the job. You were a comedian? Well, I give you some leeway, though whether people want to book you is their business, but I probably wouldn’t write you off in perpetuity. You want to run for office? Explain your shit.

2) Is Disney making a mistake by firing James Gunn and standing by their decision to do so, despite (any) aforementioned statute of limitations discussed in question 1? In adding to this question, I feel that it is worth pointing out that Disney has an archive of films with questionable racial undertones and misogynistic/antiquated views on women.

I think so, yes. Ultimately it’s up to them what they want to do, but Gunn saying some super dumb-shit things on Twitter a while back when he was trying to be a taboo comedian shouldn’t damn him for all time. (The howling right-wingers who came for him, it bears mentioning, were acting in very bad faith. But Gunn did Tweet some gross things.)

For what it’s worth, though, the fact Disney has made regrettable films in the past doesn’t mean their standards can’t evolve. I sure as hell hope they wouldn’t make Song of the South these days, or employ someone who believed the racism in that film is acceptable.

3) Robert Downey Jr. is an excellent poster boy for someone with a bit of a questionable/troubled past who has undergone successful reform. If RDJ is arguably one of Disney’s biggest stars, is it not hypocritical for Disney to hold “tweets in jest” against James Gunn while continuing to parade RDJ around as one of their biggest stars? Especially given that Gunn admitted that the tweets were made in jest and has since apologized for them. You could also argue that other Disney voice actors, such as Robin Williams, Tim Allen, or Eddie Murphy have a history of offensive stand-up comedy and in some cases drug use prior to being employed by Disney (not that much different than anything Gunn said or did).

Those are kind of different things, but Disney is most certainly acting on an ad hoc basis in response to a contrived social media outcry. The difference was that there wasn’t a vocal group of people trying to get rid of RDJ, and certainly not one that would outweigh his bankability at the box office (whereas James Gunn wasn’t exactly a household name, despite being a successful director.) Money talks. Disney feared he might cause them more trouble than he was worth.

Companies are always going to be responsive to threats to their bottom line. You can say Disney is hypocritical for that, and they are, I guess, but if so I don’t know that you can banish that hypocrisy under capitalism. What it’s going to take is a cultural agreement on who qualifies to be forgiven, and cultural agreement feels a bit like it’s in short supply these days.

4) Do you feel that society has become over-sensitized to issues that arise on social media and that companies hit the panic button to avoid any sort of controversial issues that arise over social media?

Yes. But.

Some of the social media reaction to stuff is people who didn’t get a voice getting one. As much as we might roll our eyes at some things, the fact is we’re also evolving in terms of whose feelings get walked on and whose get prioritized. That’s part of social progress. It’s the next step in the same process that has made it unthinkable a major studio would release a movie like Song of the South in 2018. You can get annoyed at particular things, maybe, but we probably have to think long and hard about which things we consider worthwhile. Sometimes we gotta evolve with the times.

How far do you think the Leafs will go this year?—munniec

This is weird because I think their biggest threat is Tampa Bay, who they’ll likely face in the second round, at latest. I’m more scared of Round 2 than Round 3 if it comes to that.

I’ll say I think they win one playoff round, but anything can happen.

With the big Suspiria remake coming up, how would you cast the Leafs’ Big Three as the Three Mothers? My attempt:

Nylander —> Mater Lachrymarum, the Mother of Tears (enemies left hopelessly sobbing at how beautiful he is)

Marner —> Mater Suspiriorum, the Mother of Sighs (whoosh of air as Marner dances past opponents)

Matthews —> Mater Tenebrarum, the Mother of Darkness (opposing team loses all hope, succumbs to despair when they see Auston take the ice)

Follow-up: Do you expect the new Suspiria to fall closer to “turgidly awful”, or “deliriously brilliant”?—Zone Entry

I had to look up what this was (a supernatural horror thriller film) and from my rapid Wikipedia scan of the material, I am unable to top your descriptions. As a rule, I think remakes of cult classics are usually doomed. “There is a fine line between the ridiculous and the sublime”; when a piece of art really nails a weird and crazy idea, it’s often pretty close to not working. Getting a bigger budget usually entails messing up the mixture.

Shouldn’t The Avengers come up with a more proactive name?—emjay

I have thought this for a long time. The Guardians? The Protectors? The Society for the Promotion of Elvish Welfare? Their role is really to try and stop bad things from happening, not to just avenge it. Surely they have smart people who can do this. Put Shuri and Bruce Banner on the job.

If you could make one regular Leaf 5 years younger, at the cost of making another regular Leaf 5 years older, would you, and who would you pick?

(Regular Leafs meaning, currently locks to make the roster, so no Leivo, etc)—Zone Entry

Once I age the regular Leaf player do I still have to keep playing him? I would make Tavares five years younger and Ron Hainsey five years older. I would then promptly scratch him. Sorry Ron.

Assuming I still have to keep playing the regular guy, I probably age up Connor Brown. He’ll still be useful for another couple of years and after that his contract’s over anyway.

Rank the past 5 Leafs starting goaltenders (omitting the horror years of Raycroft/Toskola/Gustavsson):

Andersen

Bernier

Reimer

Belfour

Joseph—shingo

Based solely on their Leaf tenures: Andersen, Belfour, Joseph (on his good run), Reimer, Bernier. Belfour is close to the top, but he had two excellent years and one awful one. Andersen has just had two quite good ones, so I think he wins. Joseph was a solid starter, Reimer swung wildly back and forth, and Bernier basically just had one good year.

In your opinion, who leads the team in the following this year (feel free to put in a prediction as well):

Goals?

Assists?

Points?

Hits?

PIM?

PP Goals?

PP Points?

(And yes I know hits and PIM aren’t important but wanted to see who would have the highest in those).—Blind Eye Ty

Goals? Auston Mathews - 51 (that’s right y’all)

Assists? William Nylander - 50

Points? Auston Matthews - 87

Hits? Zach Hyman - 120

PIM? Nazem Kadri - 38

PP Goals? Auston Matthews - 11

PP Points? Mitch Marner - 30

Please nobody calculate whether these estimates are consistent.

If you could have any 3 members of the Leafs organization (have to pick: one management, one current Leafs player, one prospect/minor leaguer) on the podcast to answer questions/discuss random things, who would you pick and why, taking into account the fact that some players might be more candid/open than others (i.e. don’t just pick big names). I would assume you would do this anyways but wanted to clarify because otherwise the question is pretty lame and I didn’t want to seem lame.—Shield

I think the management candidate has to be Kyle Dubas. He’s good at politician answers but he’s fascinating to talk to nonetheless, and he’s the guy.

I’ve said this before, but I think Connor Carrick would be really interesting to talk to. He’s pretty careful but he’s smart as hell and still manages to say interesting things.

I’d be interested to talk to Adam Brooks about where he thinks he’s at, what he thinks of his path so far, and where he thinks he’s going. He’s had an odd journey here and he still has an uphill battle to get further, but you never know.

Nine months.* The honeymoon period in relationships is generally the three-to-six month range, where you’re both rapturously in love and everything your partner does is wonderful and exciting. Nine months puts you into the cooldown phase; presumably you haven’t dumped each other, so you’re now adjusting to a less ecstatic but more comfortable phase.

*Or like, whenever, maybe your date is chill.

If Kyle Dubas is convinced that Ron Hainsey is being played to the degree that it is seriously damaging the team, he should have a talk with his coach about that. I really don’t like the Take Away His Toys attitude towards coaches. If you absolutely have to threaten to fire a guy to get him to wise up and he still won’t, well, do you still want him as your coach by that point? You have to trust your personnel to some extent. (Katya and I have had long discussions on this point, so some of this is her influence.)

The obvious candidate to replace Hainsey is Travis Dermott, if it comes to that. Hopefully he’s ready. Andreas Borgman has done some PK work so he might take the SH duties.

Oh definitely. I’m just waiting for brands to pay me for access to the key “humourous hockey nerd” demographic.

Mike Babcock has suggested Hyman with Tavares and I’m fine with that. I liked Hyman-Matthews-Nylander a lot and would keep them together, given my preference, but it’s not a problem. Just put Hyman with guys he can dig out pucks for and go.

Honestly, I admire a lot of the conventional hockey virtues with Zach. He works hard, he’s willing to fight for the puck, he plays energetic defence and PK. He’s kind of my beau ideal of an inexpensive supporting piece, I really like him as an option to fill in anywhere in the top nine wingers.

Top five most overrated nhl players during your lifetime and why. Please consider things like how easy it used to be to score on an nhl goalie but try to include at least one current player.—@7lifesupport

  1. Chris Osgood—I’m not sure how overrated Chris Osgood still is, but he was a very middling goalie who got three Cups because he played for the Detroit behemoth in its heyday. Chris Osgood is Hockey Ringo Starr.
  2. Milan Lucic—He really was pretty good, once, but Jesus to hear him talked about you’d think he was the God of War. There was a lot of weird HURR MASCULINITY stuff about him that exacerbated this. A guy who can both fight and score is still the Platonic ideal of a hockey player in a lot of minds.
  3. Shane Doan—There are people who want to put Shane Doan in the Hall of Fame. You can make a case for him as a builder. But as a player he just played for one team for a very long time, and people liked him because he was usually available for the World Championships each spring thanks to Coyotes being awful. He was also dirty as hell.
  4. Jonathan Toews—I want to be careful with this one because Toews has been a really great player at times and is still good, but people talked about him as if he was the best player in the world at times. He wasn’t. It was nuts that people said that, especially as time went on.
  5. Cam Ward—He won a Cup and was somehow considered a legit starting goalie through like the next twelve years. Ward had the most incredible Cup Halo I’ve ever seen. He was really bad for a long time!

Honourable Mentions: Chris Kunitz, Shea Weber, Martin Brodeur, half the defensive defencemen in the last thirty years

100 minis. Their combined skill would win the day.

Oof. Probably Tavares. I know he’s bland but maybe he’d say the odd interesting thing rather than me having to infer half of Carrick.

I’m very worried Babcock would reunite Hyman - Matthews - Brown, which I really don’t like, but if it’s up to me:

Hyman - Matthews - Marner

Marleau - Tavares - Kapanen

Johnsson - Kadri - Brown

Ennis - Lindholm - Cracknell

It’s a lot less fun, but it puts an ace playmaker to feed Matthews and it gives Tavares fast guys who can score. Kadri’s line should at least be defensively responsible.

I think they probably have to choose between Trouba and Myers, although if they really keep Laine and Connor down it’s not out of the question. But probably.

It’s hard for me to see Laine coming in under $9M and, given this is a guy who could quite possibly win the Richard this year, I would guess $10M. Kyle Connor comes in closer to $7M. That leaves room for only one of Trouba or Myers, after the Jets fill out their roster with ELCs and cheap FAs. Myers is unrestricted next summer; Trouba is RFA for one more year but also sure seems like he wants to get out of town.

I don’t think I would want to pay what Myers would cost as a UFA. A gigantic RD with decent point totals is going to get paid, and I don’t think Myers is top pair on a good team. Trouba I would be interested in, but again, the Jets ought to be able to ransom him. To pay him his next deal we also would have to drop the Marleau or Zaitsev deals. So I’m not sure I see a fit.

Honestly if we win the Cup this year I don’t think we trade anyone. We probably let Gardiner walk to a nice payday and that’s it, unless Patrick Marleau has decided he has his ring and now he wants to go home to a relaxing final season in SJ. Likely, though, we’d just keep riding.

I have not, no. I’m told the dream of the 90s is alive there.

The former isn’t bad. What’s your name, who’s your daddy, is he rich like me?

This is a heresy in the music circles I listen but I think Pet Sounds is one of the most overrated albums of all time. I’m sorry. I just never get it.

At the risk of being super boring, it’s honestly the same as this roster minus Jake Gardiner because we don’t have salary room. Next year is the big squeeze and I’m not counting on us being able to unload Marleau or Zaitsev’s deals to get out of it. So we really aren’t going to have much room to maneuver. I assume Dermott slides into the Top 4 defence at that point, while Liljegren gets his promotion to the third pair. I’ll guess he’s alongside Andreas Borgman for that year.

Marlies coach Sheldon Keefe seems like an obvious candidate for an NHL job; I’m actually a little surprised he’s even still here now. As for front office, Laurence Gilman could absolutely be an NHL GM in a year or two, after some time with the Leafs to get back in the swing of the NHL.

The NAFTA dispute predates John Tavares, and actually is traceable back to issues with the original NAFTA, which was clearly crafted as an emotional response to the Wayne Gretzky trade.

Adam Cracknell is big, and also, his name sounds like he could club someone to death, somehow. I feel like he’d win with blunt force.

Thanks to everyone who contributed.