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.

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.

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.

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]

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 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.

This report seems contradictory to the announcement above but I could be missing something.

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.

That sound you hear is Annie laughing her ass off all the way from our remote kitten ranch in Philly.

Dave Nonis was right, Jonathan Bernier is a great goalie for a shit team!