Good morning Toronto Maple Leafs fans!

Sometimes while I'm wondering what the hockey world will bring, or what it's up to I think thoughts I think would be something good to write about but then I see something shiny and it never gets done.

So, when I was asked by Betway to hop on a zoom call with Stanley Cup Champion, former Toronto Maple Leaf, and Hockey Hall of Fame goalie Grant Fuhr, I thought it would be a good time to bother someone with things I think. Being one to never turn down a good time, I said yes, they said great! But it will cost you. So, thanks Betway, here's your plug:

One thing I've considered is that the NHL should have a development league in the summer. A structured place to test new rules, let some free agents show off their skills, and get some extra ice time for prospects and players, similar to the NBA Summer League. Base it in one city, a couple games a day over a few weeks, see if we like a smaller or larger neutral zone or bigger nets or a lacrosse box on the ice next to the benches where you can change players without risking a too many men call. Heck, what if we had blue ice instead of white?

The 3Ice league in Minnesota is a summer league, based in one city, with different rules. Grant Fuhr is Head Coach of 3Ice Chicago, so he has experience with something new:

"3Ice has been a lot of fun, and we had a couple guys sign with American Hockey League teams. Yeah, I think it's great for the offensive talent, it's great for goalies, we've had a few goalies sign contracts out of the league. It's exciting and a great place to try some different rules. [No power plays, only penalty shots / puck bouncing off the netting back into the ice is in play / goalies can play the puck anywhere, etc...] Sometimes possession can get boring, so we have a rule where you can't take the puck back across centre, some different things that keep the offense in it, try to keep it fun."

People have been pushing the no taking the puck back after you get possession in NHL overtime, so perhaps another summer of 3Ice doing so will get it more noticed.

Something I've also disliked recently is the trend of AHL teams moving into NHL cities. From Stockton, California to Calgary with the Flames. From St. John's, Newfoundland to Laval, near the Canadiens. From St. John's, Newfoundland to Toronto with the Maple Leafs. When Grant Fuhr played in the NHL he played for the Cape Breton Oilers in that great time the Maritimes was home to AHL teams, not Major Junior. PEI Senators, Saint John Flames, Halifax Citadels. What a time. It built fanbases for those teams outside their home provinces, and gave some cities pro hockey when they knew they would never get NHL teams. Fuhr is currently doing radio and broadcast work for the Coachella Valley Firebirds, the brand new Seattle Kraken AHL affiliate. The Kraken are building a fanbase from the ground up in the California desert. They aren't hoping to piggyback off their NHL teams, and that is how you grow the game.

"I think [the AHL] is better off in smaller towns. You take a market like Calgary when you have the NHL team, the AHL team, the WHL team, but it's all running off one fanbase, so now you have a really hard sell. Where as, here in Coachella, we're literally the only game in town. It's why our attendance is really good. [The firebirds are 5th in AHL attendance with an average of 8,722 fans per game. The Marlies average 5,950] It's also a new market, so now you're creating a fanbase that may not have been fans of the game to start with. If you can get into smaller towns, create that fanbase, it's creating a fanbase of the game, of the NHL as well."

I know NHL teams don't care about attendance when they move their AHL teams nearby. They just want easier development and access. Save a few bucks on plane tickets. I like the AHL being it's own business.

So, it's good to know I'm just as smart as a Hall of Famer.

Now, some news.

The Calgary Flames look good on South Asian Heritage night.

Less playoff games? What?

Want to boost NHL audiences? Be more like women’s college basketball
If the post season was pared back and given much higher stakes, and the audience and TV money will follow

67? Psh. 70, easy.

Auston Matthews on track for 67 goals, the NHL’s most in a season in nearly 30 years | CBC Sports
Toronto Maple Leafs centre Auston Matthews has an NHL-leading 58 goals this season, and scoring 70 would require a goal-a-game tear down the stretch. He is on pace for 67, which would be the most in the NHL since 1996.

Who have been the best healthy scratches?

Unveiling the NHL’s 2023-24 All–Healthy Scratch Team
Two full lines, two defence pairs, and two goaltenders who have been forced to sit and watch teammates play in games they had planned to dress for.

What is it with New Brunswick teams going undefeated?

N.B. para hockey team go undefeated
The New Brunswick para hockey team went undefeated in the Quebec tournament over the weekend.

You never want to see this.

RCMP investigating after Island hockey slash sends player to hospital
RCMP investigating after player hit opponent with stick multiple times from behind during U15 game

Finally, the Yukon Native Hockey Tournament kicked off with a bang.

Whitehorse Daily Star: Yukon Native Hockey Tourney features amazing opening ceremony
The 44th Kilrich Building Centres Yukon Native Hockey Tournament is in the books.

Enjoy your day everyone!