Good morning Toronto Maple Leafs fans! We’re past one week of the end of the season, and we’re still working out the kinks of filling these boxes with words, minus inspiration.
Today I’m aiming to help the wee little kids who are missing school remember their alphabet, but giving them examples relevant to their interests.
A - Auston Matthews began the season on a low note, having forced the team to learn of his off-season troubles via Twitter. Then he grew that moustache. We knew he would have to put up big numbers to push that off the tops of our minds, and he did. Scoring 47 goals, 80 points in 70 games, he was ninth overall in points and just one back of the league lead in goals when the plug was pulled on this years campaign.
B - Babcock was the coach it felt that only Brendan Shanahan wanted at the start of this season. It feels so long ago, doesn’t it? On November 20th, after starting the season 9-10-1, and being a very not fun team to watch, Kyle Dubas got permission to fire Babock and install Toronto Marlies head coach Sheldon Keefe in as the man behind the bench.
C - Captaincy was the question to start the season. Who would get the ‘C’? Some wanted Auston Matthews to get it, but his lies and deception killed that idea. Morgan Rielly was the longest tenured Maple Leaf, and an off ice leader for the team, but they gave it to John Tavares in a very adorable way.
D - Defence wins championships is a very common phrase that the Toronto Maple Leafs have trouble believing. From Cody Ceci, to the injuries to Jake Muzzin and Morgan Rielly - and let’s not forget the sometimes frustrating play of Tyson Barrie - the Leafs defence corps was questionable for a lot of this season.
E - Energy is a key part of hockey, but why did it feel like the Maple Leafs never had any at the start of games? “Starting on time” became a key phrase for this season.
F - Fashion is a way for people to express themselves, and luckily we have Annie on our side to keep track of the Maple Leafs do’s and dont’s. Frederik Andersen is usually a prime example of how to look both professional and delicious, while Auston Matthews shows us what every rich early 20-somethings are paying way too much money for, and William Nylander is....unique.
this, by definition, is a look pic.twitter.com/jbWajl2SDV— Yahoo Sports Canada (@YahooCASports) November 7, 2019
G - Goalies are an important part of every team. When they’re hot they can drag a team into the playoffs, and when they are not they can pull them down into the abyss of failure.
This season starting goalie Frederik Andersen was walking the line of his usual stance as a major reason the Leafs made the playoffs and the reason the Leafs need to improve their defence. Michael Hutchinson played backup and forced Kyle Dubas to trade for Jack Campbell in the middle of a game.
H - Hell was watching this team at points all season. From the EBUG game, to the plain old boringness of Mike Babcock hockey, we suffered through a lot. They were frustrating at times, playing well below their talent level, and the whole thing felt like a waste at times.
I - Injuries took their toll on the Maple Leafs this season. Jake Muzzin broke his hand. Ilya Mikheyev cut an artery in his wrist. Andreas Johnsson was just a pile broken everything. Morgan Rielly, Cody Ceci, Travis Dermott, Zach Hyman, all missed significant time off. We never had a complete team at at any point in this season.
J - Jack Campbell is the best thing to happen to the Maple Leafs this season. He’s such a great teammate, and a living mascot for the locker room. He’s taken his teammates out to dinners, he supports Frederik Andersen from the bench with glee, and loves to get onto the ice and do his part. He’s exactly what this team needed when he arrived, and I’m very happy he’s here.
K - Kadri was traded to the Colorado Avalanche in the off-season after being suspended two playoffs in a row. In exchange came back Tyson Barrie and Alex Kerfoot, who we thought would be two solutions to the centre and defensive depth issues. What we ended up with was missing that role that Kadri played, until Kasperi Kapanen decided to take up the mantel as team pest. He’s not quite at Kadri levels yet, but he’s trying.
L - Legalities and contracts are hard to understand sometimes, but those are the things that kept the Maple Leafs from walking away from Cody Ceci. It doesn’t explain why he was played so much though.
M - Minutes are the unit of measure to find out how much a player is one the ice. One of the biggest reasons people wanted Mike Babock gone was he didn’t give the big players enough time last season. This year both Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews were over 20 minutes per game. And they produced. Weird.
N - No Move Clause is a term that can tank a team. Have too many and you can’t rebuild, right Bryan McCabe? Right now only four Maple Leafs have these clauses. Zach Hyman, John Tavares, Frederik Andersen, and Jason Spezza.
O - Oates is one half of the duo hat bring us the sweet sounds of goals being scored.
P - Pause is what the NHL thinks they’re doing to the 2019-20 season. We can only hold onto hope.
Q - Questions are a fact of life for the Maple Leafs, and yesterday Kyle Dubas did a Q&A mailbag with Toronto Star writer Kevin McGran.
R - Records are meant to be broken, right? We almost had one Leafs record broken that we never thought possible. Rick Vaive holds the Leafs record for most goals in a season at 54. No one has beaten that mark since it was set almost 40 years ago, but Auston Matthews had a chance, needing only eight more goals through the rest of the season.
S - Sheldon Keefe was named the 40th head coach in Toronto Maple Leafs history. His arrival was heralded by some as the best thing to happen to this Maple Leafs team since Kyle Dubas was named General Manager. Dubas and Keefe teamed up to bring the Toronto Marlies a championship and many hoped that the magic would continue. What we got however, was more of the same on the ice after a while, and some continue to mutter under their breath that “Bruce Boudreau was right there in the summer”.
T - Trainers make up a lot of the behind the scenes staff, and they do a lot of work to keep the team healthy. Thank you to them for doing what they do.
U - Uh-Oh, I’m running out of ideas as you can see above.
V - Veterans play a key role on any team, and this year the Maple Leafs signed Jason Spezza to a league minimum contract. After a rocky start that probably wasn’t his fault, Jason Spezza proved to be an invaluable member of the team and has said he only wants to play next season in Toronto.
W - Weather was a factor this year for the Maple Leafs outdoor practice. They were able to get the Leafs out there, but the alumni and PWHPA events were scrapped.
X - X is the worst letter of the alphabet. [X is for all the x-rays of broken feet that litter the floor of the Leafs locker room]
Y - YouTube is a platform that is utilized very well by the Leafs - with Leaf to Leaf being a favourite part of the Leafs online presence.
Z - Zamboni Driver. Let’s never speak of that moment again.
There’s no news.
Have a good weekend everyone!