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From the Branches: Is Hockey Cool?

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Finally, a verdict, along with your morning links.

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John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL has announced its music lineup for the All-Star Game this weekend, and for what might be the very first time, it includes an artist I care about! Carly Rae Jepsen, along with John Legend, the littlest Jonas Brother, and others, will be playing. Some of you might only know Ms. Jepsen as the woman behind the earworm-iest of all earworms, Call Me Maybe, but the important things are that she is A) Canadian, and B) her 2015 album Emotion was, in my opinion, the best pop album that year.

Considering this, I have decided to declare hockey, the sport, cool. It's been up in the air for a while now, but between Carly Rae and Auston Matthews, I think it's officially landed on the side of cool.

Oh, yeah. That's the coolest.

The Leafs play the Flyers tonight at 7pm ET. Fifty Mission Cap's love note to the city of Philadelphia game preview should be up later this morning. Until then, have some links!

ICYMI

William Nylander has been better than Mitch Marner - Pension Plan Puppets
If you haven't read Arvind's article on Nylander's sneaky excellence, you should. It's already sowing the seeds of blog discord.

Leafs vs. Red Wings Recap: Freddie Is A Wall - Pension Plan Puppets
The Leafs get their second 4-0 win in a row.

Maple Leafs News

Leafs notebook: Babcock, Matthews go back to the beginning | Toronto Star
"He’s an intense guy whether he’s talking to you about hockey or anything else. That’s the vibe I got from him."

Toronto Maple Leafs: Options For Depth At Center | FOX Sports
According to Elliotte Friedman, the Toronto Maple Leafs are looking for a depth centerman. And who could blame them?

Kadri Has Become a 2-Way Threat - The Hockey Writers

Nazem Kadri has come a long way in his seven years in the NHL. He's now on the cusp of stardom and is finding new ways to improve and help his team.

There was never a rift between Gardiner and I: Randy Carlyle - Toronto Sun

Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

News Around the League

Former MLSE stalwart makes switch to Sens - The Globe and Mail
Team founder Cyril Leeder out as Sens president, replaced by former MLSE executive Tom Anselmi

Tomas and Tommy: The Beauty of Friendship - Fear The Fin
Friendship must be always.

How do you solve a problem like Avalanche's Semyon Varlamov? - Denver Post
This follows the Avalanche's declaration last week that Varlamov, who has missed several stretches of the season because of groin muscle issues, would be shut down at least through the all-star break.

Marchand to have hearing with DoPS for a nasty slewfooting on Niklas Kronwall - Stanley Cup of Chowder
He’s probably missing a couple games for this.

Down Goes Brown: The five toughest Top 100 calls among active players
The NHL will unveil its heavily hyped Top 100 list of the league's greatest players this weekend as part of the all-star festivities in Los Angeles.

How hockey and the Flyers have helped me deal with anxiety and depression - Broad Street Hockey
This is a good thing worth reading, even (especially) since it isn't Bell Let's Talk day.