Welcome to a Maple Leafs game day, while it’s technically been a while, to me it didn’t feel like very long at all. This summer has definitely affected my patience in a positive way. The Leafs are set to play the Vancouver Canucks for the first time this season. They are, at the moment, a hot mess. Hopefully the Leafs, who have been a more subtle hot mess can be less of a hot mess in these two games.
Along with the two Leafs games on the horizon, the AHL season is set to start in America. The AHL has 19 games on their schedule this weekend starting on Friday that will be free to stream on AHL.tv. Canada’s AHL teams (plus the Stockton Heat who will play in Calgary this season) do not have a schedule yet.
As you probably know, this is because the Ontario Government has yet to approve the AHL and OHL playing games and having travel within the province. We haven’t had news on this issue for a while, but yesterday we got a tidbit from Chris Johnston that the Canadian AHL teams might just fly over Ontario to start the season with the Marlies and Belleville Senators playing on the road until they’re allowed to come home. Just like Yoda, they are going into exile.
There's been some progress towards getting the Canadian-based AHL teams up and running in the next week or two.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) February 3, 2021
Ontario has yet to sign off on the AHL plan; the Marlies and Senators will likely have to start with out-of-province road games to make things work.
Initial reports stated that the Belleville Senators were just going to not play the season and the Marlies would rent space in New York or something and play in the North Division. With this development of the team’s starting the season on the road, it sounds like the league and teams are confident the Marlies and Senators will be allowed to play at home (at some point). I expect the Marlies to make the SBA their home this season, it would seem silly to open and staff the Coliseum right now.
Ontario is expected to open schools on Monday (Feb 8th) with the end of lockdown still TBD, pending a flattening of the curve that would ease the stress on the hospital system.
Various Leafs and Branches
Omar did a great breakdown on Mikko Lehtonen and his first three games of the season | by: Omar
Lehtonen has been a player Omar has quietly obsessed with and paid strong attention to this season. He has some great insight here.
Brigstew has an early look at the 2021 Draft | by: Brigstew
While it feels early for us, I would argue that it’s not so early considering the European season is coming to a close in a few months. The Leafs have their first round pick, but I would argue they should not use it. This is a relatively weak draft at the top, with a big mess in the second and third rounds. Trading picks at the deadline or back for more shots is the way I’d go.
Semyon Der-Arguchintsev missed over two months with a knee injury, but he's back in for Torpedo today and has immediately scored his second KHL goal, off a happy deflection pic.twitter.com/AQL1ZLCYdk— mostly Willy shooting it into the net (@mostlyleafies) February 3, 2021
The day after Omar posted his amazing article on Wayne Simmonds and BIPOC representation in hockey, the Train himself spoke about the issue. It is my canon that Wayne read Omar’s article. No one can tell me otherwise.
Wayne Simmonds on why it's important for him to be active in his community:— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) February 3, 2021
"There's a saying that if you can't see it, you can't be it. And I just look to be a positive influence among the BIPOC children out there."
The Minnesota Wild are heading into a seven-day quarantine after five positive cases were found on the team. The team is currently in Colorado having played them on Tuesday and were set to have a rematch on Thursday. Tyson Jost of the Avs is also on the NHL’s COVID Protocol List. [Mile High Hockey]
Nothing official yet but sounds like MIN is quite possibly facing a seven-day shutdown that would result in postponed games. https://t.co/GAeYlVPjan— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) February 4, 2021
The NWHL have shut down their bubble ahead of the semi-finals of the Isobel Cup playoffs citing COVID-19 concerns. They have left the door open to complete their year at some point in the future. [Sportsnet]
The NWHL and the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) have agreed, due to new positive COVID-19 tests and the resulting safety concerns for the players, their respective staff & the community that the remainder of the 2021 NWHL Season in Lake Placid have been suspended.— NWHL (@NWHL) February 3, 2021
The WHL Calgary Hitmen will be playing their season on the land of the Tsuut’ina Nation. First Nations people have been hit harder than most by the COVID-19 pandemic.
NEWS: Due to NHL and AHL COVID-19 protocols instituted at the Scotiabank Saddledome, we will be playing this season's home games out of Seven Chiefs Sportsplex on Tsuut’ina Nation.https://t.co/Vzx5VZwVtP pic.twitter.com/4qzV6w58P5— Calgary Hitmen (@WHLHitmen) February 3, 2021
This report seems contradictory to the announcement above but I could be missing something.
Hearing the WHL has received approval from the province of Saskatchewan to hold a bubble in Regina. Still waiting for Manitoba to allow Brandon + Winnipeg to join.— Jeff Marek (@JeffMarek) February 4, 2021
Four NHL teams (Detroit, Calgary, LA, and Anaheim) had the audacity to pick up the phone and call to ask about Anthony DeAngelo, the Rangers crybaby who has been sent home by the team. If these teams still need “due diligence” on DeAngelo (especially Steve Yzerman), they’re more stupid than I thought (which is already pretty stupid). I shouldn’t be surprised as one GM on this list fell in love with Bill Peters and hired him without any research and the other literally drafted DeAngelo while he was embroiled in OHL controversy. Screw this jazz.
Bob McKenzie: Four or Five teams interested in DeAngelo, including Calgary, Detroit, LA, Anaheim.. Rangers not interested retaining back salary. McKenzie said if they can’t trade him DeAngelo would be bought out this off-season. #NYR pic.twitter.com/UzFiW2D3db— David 🔹 (@DaveyUpper) February 4, 2021
That sound you hear is Annie laughing her ass off all the way from our remote kitten ranch in Philly.
The Penguins have asked and received permission from the Kings to speak with Ron Hextall— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) February 4, 2021
Dave Nonis was right, Jonathan Bernier is a great goalie for a shit team!
It's been 464 days since a goaltender other than Jonathan Bernier won a game for the Detroit Red Wings and I'm honestly afraid that it may never happen again— Prashanth Iyer (@iyer_prashanth) February 3, 2021