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From the Branches: Auston Matthews is skating!

He’s still a ways off from returning, though.

Ottawa Senators v Toronto Maple Leafs
Your mom’s got good taste, kid.
Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images

Yesterday, Auston Matthews emerged from his lair (where he may or may not have been engineering jewel heists) and blessed us all with his presence at Maple Leafs practice, spending 20 minutes skating in a red no-contact jersey.

He’s still a ways off from returning. Considering the Leafs’ safe position in the standings, I’m glad they’re taking their time with him, even if watching the Auston-less Leafs is painful at times. However, it’s very nice that Matthews got to come in and spend some time with his teammates, instead of wasting away at his condo playing Fortnite or whatever the kids do these days.

On to your daily links:

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Stuff We Didn’t Write

Mike Babcock on Frederik Andersen's workload, DJ Smith's future, Auston Matthews' status | Maple Leafs Hotstove
Mike Babcock addressed the media after practice on Wednesday, discussing the team’s recent dip, DJ Smith’s future as an NHL head coach, Auston Matthews’ status, and more.

Matthews skating, but Maple Leafs taking long view with franchise star - Sportsnet.ca
The Toronto Maple Leafs are eager to finish a practice with one of the best players you could choose to start a franchise.

Arenas That Live On: Maple Leaf Gardens - Arena Digest
For decades, Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens was a showcase venue for hockey in Canada.

Leafs assistant Smith earns player poll plaudits - Article - TSN
The Toronto Maple Leafs may not let assistant coach D.J. Smith speak with the media, but you can hear his voice plenty around the team. [Warning for autoplay]

What’s the difference between the hit by Backes and the hit on McAvoy? - Stanley Cup of Chowder
Lots of Bruins fans are comparing the two. That might not be the best idea.

Evgeny Svechnikov Expecting Call-Up and David Backes Suspended After Injury to Frans Nielsen - Winging It In Motown
As reported earlier today, David Backes had a meeting with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety after delivering a late hit that knocked Frans Nielsen out of Tuesday night’s Red Wings/Bruins game.

Alex Ovechkin sheep: Where is it now? - The Washington Post
This story about Alex Ovechkin's actual, real, live pet sheep is very important and you all need to read it.