Over the past season, we fans of our beloved Toronto Maple Leafs have been through a lot. We dealt with three major RFA negotiations. William Nylander went to the absolute final deadline and he struggled due to missed time, and we had to hear constant crap about him making $10 million (he didn’t), his contract was bad (it’s not), and he had to be traded (he won’t).
Auston Matthews was thankfully signed before the off-season and it seemed like a lot for the term he got, leading people to again say that it was an overpay (it wasn’t), Dubas fucked up again (he didn’t), and he did it so he can leave for Arizona as soon as possible (not very likely).
Then was Mitch Marner, and the hell that was the “leaks” and negotiations through the media. I won’t even say it was just Marner’s camp that played that game, as it seems like right before he signed the Leafs “leaked” some stuff to put pressure on him. And, once again, we got the same old arguments about him being overpaid (he did), and Dubas fucked up for a third time (only the first time), and he let Marner reset the RFA market (lol nope).
In the middle of all of that, we had to deal with losing to the god damned Bruins again. This time they didn’t look overmatched, in fact it looked like they were the better team for a lot of the series. But another first-round loss is another first-round loss, and frustrations grew all through the year before the playoffs even started — because we could see the Bruins matchup coming for weeks if not months.
It led to calls for Babcock to be fired and then some ludicrous narratives around him being anti-youth, anti-skill, anti-analytics, and so on. And then this year, the Leafs have stupidly high odds of facing either the Lighting or the Bruins in the first round and no team has even played a regular season game.
And then Matthews had to be a massive pillock just as he was maybe going to be named captain oh but actually the Leafs ALWAYS meant it to be John Tavares or Morgan Rielly pay no attention to Ace Ventura behind the curtain.
But you know what? That’s all done. Part of the agony was going through the cycle of grief, and a search for something to fill the void of real hockey so we had something to talk about. But now hockey is back, and we had a taste of it in this pre-season that I think has a lot of us very excited for the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 2019/20 season.
We saw Babcock rave and choose to keep (so far) 19 year old Rasmus Sandin, small and skilled Dmytro Timashov, and guys like Ilya Mikheyev and Trevor Moore over [insert other depth guy who is bigger and older and less skilled (in theory)].
We saw Marner and Nylander and Matthews on the ice and remembered that oh yeah, the reason why we have so many players on expensive contracts is because we have so many great players.
We saw their depth, a big problem for them last year, play an entire lineup of “AHL” players beat another team playing most of their NHL roster. Twice! We saw their NHL lineup absolute toy with and destroy other teams.
We’re seeing a roster that has been picked as basically the 2nd or 3rd best team in the entire NHL for the year. It sucks that all of the top three teams are in our division, but still... the Leafs have built a damn good team. They have the best group of defense that I can remember in a long time, and is especially built for the style of play the Leafs have.
I’m not going to predict how this season will go (except in the upcoming predictions post where we were all surveyed), but I will say that this year will be a lot of fun. No more contract negotiations, no more drama (knocks on wood), just a damn good hockey team. It’s time to have fun watching hockey again. It’s time to watch our embarrassment of riches in the form of elite, skilled and fast talent wreck other teams’ shit.
It’s time to get.... Back to Excited!
ONTO THE LINKS
Maple Leafs announce roster cuts | by Katya
Matt Read signed to an AHL deal | by Katya
Marlies and Growlers training camp rosters are out | by Katya
Rasmus Sandin leaves no doubt he’s ready to play for the Maple Leafs | by Jonas Siegel at The Athletic
Mike Babcock on Rasmus Sandin: “The more situations we put him in, the more he just played well” | transcript by MLHS
We don’t need to write off Liljegren to write in Sandin | by Ryan Fancey at TLN, who picked just an absolutely fantastic photo to go with the article.
Last, let’s take a look at our fresh new NHL roster going into our first game on Wednesday.
#Leafs lines at practice:— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) September 30, 2019
AROUND THE NHL
Speaking of the Leafs being an elite team and having an absurd amount of depth, if you looked at all of the depth forwards the Leafs were looking at, how many do you think would be good enough to make the Oilers’ NHL roster?
Oiler lines at practice:— Jack Michaels (@EdmontonJack) September 30, 2019
Nick Suzuki made the Montreal Canadiens.
Nick Suzuki is probably here to stay with the Canadiens. (via @EricEngels)https://t.co/zqIuIZiztu— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) September 29, 2019
Ville Heinola made the Winnipeg Jets.
#NHLJets coach Paul Maurice just told reporters in Minnesota that 18-year-old defenceman Ville Heinola is likely going to play regular-season games this season. How many is the question.— Mike McIntyre (@mikemcintyrewpg) September 29, 2019
On Sidney Crosby’s special trip to Rimouski, where tears fell and time stood still | by Josh Yoke at The Athletic
The NHL announces how they will reach out to tap into a new and more diverse fanbase. White dudes who in their 30’s or 40’s.
The NHL this afternoon will announce a 2-year partnership with Green Day that could also bring with it a new anthem similar to what the NFL had with Hank Williams on "Monday Night Football." https://t.co/OXDnYhHvBO— Stephen Whyno (@SWhyno) September 30, 2019
Have a great Monday everyone!