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FTB: Is a trip down under on the way?

Rumours have been circulating about a pre-season trip to the continent that lost a war to bunnies.

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St. Louis Blues v Vancouver Canucks
Nathan Walker, the only Australian in the NHL could get to bring his team home.
Photo by Derek Cain/Getty Images

Good morning Toronto Maple Leafs fans, or perhaps good evening?

For a few months now various NHL insiders and podcasters have brought up the possibility of an NHL game in Australia, like the pre-season trips to Europe and Japan the NHL has taken before.

Last night Kevin Weekes, who usually doesn’t tweet until it’s close to a done deal, brought up the idea once again.

The first time the NHL travelled outside North America was in 1938 when the Detroit Red Wings and Montreal Canadiens went on a tour of England and France, This would be followed up by a 1959 European tour by the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers that stopped in England, Switzerland, France, Belgium, West Germany, and Austria. Various tours by lesser teams followed.

The Maple Leafs wouldn’t travel overseas until 1993 when the Maple Leafs and New York Rangers played a two game series at Wembley Arena in London, England. The Leafs lost both games, in traditional Leafs fashion.

In 2003 they would go to Finland and Sweden for some pre-season games against local teams. They won all of those games.

The NHL made their non-European debut in 1976 when the Kansas City Scouts and Washington Capitals (ooph, awful choices) went to Japan for a four game tour.

In 2017 & 18 the NHL would visit China, and in 2006, something I absolutely forgot about, the Rangers and Florida Panthers played a game in Puerto Rico!

But, Africa, Australia, and Antarctica remain the only continents without an NHL visit.

So, which teams would make the trip and take in the Sydney Opera House, Uluru, and various Chuzzwazzers?

One key would be bringing some local talent home. We’ve seen past European games be marketed around players than teams - Patrik Laine in Finland, David Krejci in the Czech Republic - and hey we have a part time NHLer who might fit the bill!

Nathan Walker was born in Wales, but grew up in Australia. He won gold with the Ice-A-Roos in 2011 in the Mens Division 2 Group A World Championships, and has spent the past nine years bouncing between the AHL and NHL, and a pre-season game with him in it would help with the marketing.

This year he’s only played in the NHL, with the St. Louis Blues, and has played 22 games and scored one goal, adding two assists. He is unsigned for next year, but if anyone wants to guarantee themselves a trip in September, may I suggest a trade and sign at the deadline?

Kyle? I think a trip to Australia is worth a fourth round pick, don’t you?

Here’s some other news.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have won exactly zero (0) games in 2023 and I think we need to talk about what a disaster this year is. #FireDubas

You want to know how to tell when a hockey franchise isn’t a serious franchise? They make 24 trades in six months and have three head coaches in half a season.

Ladies and gentlemen, your Niagara IceDogs.

Kevin Weekes gives us something to talk about: If the Senators had to pay the Leafs a third and a seventh to take Matt Murray, as well as eat 25% of his cap hit, what the hell will they have to pay someone to take Zaitsev?

I’m betting a first, prospect, and 50% of the cap.

The Dallas Stars signed veteran Joe Pavelski to a one year extension. He’s turned his play around this season and is looking to be worth the $3.5M he’ll make.

Did you know there’s an outdoor game today? I didn’t.

I guess I better get ready to watch the Bruins? Ew. No. I’ll, uh, see you all later.

Poll

What would it take for the Leafs to bring Zaitsev back?

This poll is closed

  • 24%
    An unprotected 2023 first round pick
    (80 votes)
  • 7%
    A protected first plus more
    (24 votes)
  • 21%
    Lou to smack Kyle with a shovel and take the GMs role back
    (69 votes)
  • 33%
    The Leafs have done some dumb trades but even they wouldn’t do this.
    (109 votes)
  • 5%
    Oh yeah? What about bringing Clark back from the Islanders?
    (17 votes)
  • 8%
    ....dammit.
    (28 votes)
327 votes total Vote Now