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From the Branches: Welcome to Toronto, Alex

Fingers crossed yesterday’s trade results in cat pics.

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NHL: FEB 09 Oilers at Senators Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Yesterday, the Toronto Marlies played for the first time in quite a while, opening their season by beating Manitoba 3-2. The Maple Leafs were scheduled to play, but mysteriously, the game never happened. Not sure what was going on there! Perhaps some benevolent god struck it from the timeline rather than forcing us to face the truth of our dishonor, I dunno.

Also, in news that does not make me want to nuke this team from orbit, the Maple Leafs did a trade! They sent Egor Korshkov and David Warsofsky to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for Alex Galchenyuk. I love this trade, not because of hockey reasons, but because it gives me an opportunity to repost what is possibly the greatest photograph any hockey player has ever taken.

Like, this picture is just magical. The cat. The knife. The full steak dinner. The two vacuum cleaners in the background. The beach out the window. The lack of shirt. The fact that he is using the cat like a scarf and the cat seems, curiously, to be okay with this. If I was putting this in the fashion recap, it would get a 10/10 simply for exceptional cat stole. It brings a whole new meaning to cruelty-free fur. Every single thing about this delights me.

Anyway, between Ken Dryden writing at length in The Atlantic about how hockey goalies are literally, physically too large, and the article about “speakeasy hockey” in defiance of coronavirus regulations (I am extremely pissed that someone used the phrase “speakeasy hockey” for something this uncool, as I feel that phrase has immense coolness potential) there’s a lot to chew on in the links today.

ICYMI

Leafs Acquire Alex Galchenyuk for Egor Korshkov, David Warsofsky - Pension Plan Puppets
The former 30-goal scorer shows up hoping to rejuvenate his career.

2021 Toronto Marlies Season Preview: Robertson, Sandin headline roster - Pension Plan Puppets
The Marlies have also adopted about half the OHL.

Recap: Maples Leafs blow commanding lead to the Senators, who take it in OT - Pension Plan Puppets
The Sens beat the Leafs and Frederik Andersen while playing the worst goalie in the NHL.

Stuff We Didn’t Write

Backyard ‘speakeasy hockey’ is booming south of the border with indoor rinks shut | The Star
Locked out by the pandemic, hockey parents pivoted to their backyards, where they repurposed old barns, expanded previous playing spaces or purchased ...

Hockey Goalies Are Too Big Now - The Atlantic
Never before in the NHL’s history has a tail so wagged the dog.

New Jersey Devils practice for the first time since Jan. 31 | The Star
The New Jersey Devils are back at work after 19 players landed on the NHL’s COVID-19 list and forced the postponement of seven games since the end of ...

‘He’ll fit in well with our group:’ Paquette eager to join Hurricanes - Canes Country
The Canes’ newest addition brings championship experience and a hard-nosed style of play.

Maple Leafs' Bogosian: Tough not to be upbeat when Thornton's around
While Joe Thornton's positive presence in the locker-room is something most of us on the outside aren't privy to firsthand, it's become clear through the words of his teammates that it's perhaps his most important contribution to the club.

NHL rankings: No surprises, fixing the lottery and more – The Athletic
A look at the NHL standings reveals … pretty much what we all expected?

Putting Paul Byron on waivers was a calculated risk by the Canadiens - Eyes On The Prize
Players are no longer judged solely by their play.

Bill Daly says Flyers to resume play on Thursday, remain on track for outdoor game in Lake Tahoe - Broad Street Hockey
Certainly a good sign for the Flyers’ potential return to competition, though nothing guaranteed at this point.

Color of Hockey: Arlette still stirring as Devils national anthem singer
William Douglas has been writing The Color of Hockey blog for the past nine years. Douglas joined NHL.com in March 2019 and writes about people of color in the game. Today, he profiles Arlette, who has been the national anthem singer for the New Jersey Devils for more than 20 years.

Tomas Tatar’s scratch is evidence that Habs’ expectations have grown - Eyes On The Prize
In recent years, a slip in performance would be tolerable. But the Canadiens have designs on being the best.