2018 was a pretty great year wasn’t it? Playoffs could have gone better, but we’ve seen the Leafs become one of the NHL’s truly elite teams while adding John freaking Tavares. We’ve seen Dermott and Kapanen improve into solid NHLers, we’ve seen Matthews and Marner take their game to another level, and we’ve seen the Toronto Marlies win the Calder Cup before helping the Leafs fill their roster with the AHLers that helped them win it all.
I decided to do the first FTB of the new year a bit differently, by looking back at my favourite PPP content from 2018.
Achariya’s Paralympic & Invictus Games
If there’s one thing I admire about Blog Mom, it’s how passionate and dedicated she is about the Paralympics, Invictus Games, and the men and women athletes that participate in both. Not only does she write about it, including a preview here for Team Canada’s 2018 Paralympic sledge hockey team, but she has covered the Invictus Games SB Nation in the past.
Blog Mom is to be admired as much as she is to be feared.
Acting the Fulemin’s... acting the fool.
Fulemin is the Kevin Papetti of humorous writing. He has a great way of speaking or writing opinions I think a lot of us share (sometimes helped by taking both pessimistic and optimistic sides of an argument), but uses his magical way with words to have us all howling.
Case in point: The Leafs are good and I’m still pissed off perfectly encapsulates, I think, the unworthy angst I think a lot of us have felt through this season as our expectations for the Leafs have reached unparalleled heights. Also, talking shit about the Senators.
Annie’s Hockey Fashion Commentary
Annie is one of PPP’s most cherished writers, because of her contributions in making PPP one of the best sources for women’s hockey coverage, for her social media commentary on the best part of hockey players’ personalities we don’t get to see elsewhere, and for her fresh insights into why the Bruins are the worst.
Most of all, I hope you’ve had the pleasure of reading Annie’s October and November fashion recaps for the Toronto Maple Leafs players, because they make up some of the best content we have in any given month. What you may not know is that this series was a long time coming, and I am so pleased that Annie finally shared it with the world.
Arvind’s Analytical Work
We all love Arvind, and the aforementioned Fulemin, for their great podcast Back To Excited, and especially for his constant trashing of the Sabres and Rasmus Ristolainen. But many people don’t know that underneath the sass and love of expensive, ugly sweaters lies a stats nerd with a heart of gold.
I’ll let you pause to recover from this shocking revelation.
Last year Arvind wrote one of my favourite pieces on Auston Matthews and just how special a shooter he is. Not necessarily with a breakdown of the mechanics of his shot, but in outlining just how incredibly productive he is at shoot volume, shot quality, and shooting percentage. And you won’t find better analysis behind Leafs rankings than Arvind’s.
Kevin’s Draft & Prospect Work
It’s not really biased since Kevin writes for MLHS now too, but in my opinion Kevin is writer the best prospect around. He blends an analytics with “the eye test” and balances both with great plain-language explanations that even idiots like me can understand. He is honest about what he knows (read: who he’s actually watched) and what he doesn’t, and backs up his work with tons of gifs and video evidence breaking down the precise skills of a player.
How appropriate then that his 2018 pre-draft profiles for the Leafs featured Rasmus Sandin, who the Leafs would ultimately choose as their first round draft choice. PPP collectively ranked him at #12 in our T25U25, and Kevin’s writeup for Sandin there was similarly great.
Hardev At Work Reporting on The Marlies
Our young upstart reporter HardevLad is a ridiculously hard worker in the hockey blogging world. Not sure how many PPP commenters know, but Hardev also writes for Raw Charge about the Lightning, AND for Mile High Hockey about the Avalanche. He also started co-hosting a podcast this year. He also attends the occasional OHL game, all while being a regular contributor here and staying up to watch and write about Ian Scott’s play in an international exhibition game.
At PPP, he forms a dynamic duo with Species providing the majority of our Toronto Marlies coverage. It was fun watching the Marlies’ Calder Cup run through his eyes with his many playoff game recaps.
Captain Katya’s Complete Coverage Can’t be Contained
How many articles do you think Katya published in 2018? Go ahead. Guess. I’ll tell you the answer at the end of this section. Needless to say it’s a lot, which makes trying to pick a few of her best pieces a lot harder. Using Arvind’s piece on Matthews’ shooting as an analogy, Katya both writes in volume but is also tops in writing quality (and writing location? Look the metaphor breaks down here so moving on...).
She watches and covers the Euro prospects, draft eligible kids and potential international free agents. She tracks the Leafs’ progress over the ‘6 in 5’ and quarterly segments. She churns out more news breaks relating to the Leafs than the rest of us combined (at least it seems that way). She breaks down how the CBA, salary cap, and various league rules work (with some help from our resident PPP lawyers).
I also find her writing similar to Kevin’s, in that she blends analytics with the eye test and can explain things in a way that most people will be able to understand. She also writes fantastic profiles on various Leafs players and prospects, like this one on Travis Dermott.
But if you want to see Katya at her finest, where she brings all of her insight and wit to bear, there was no better example than her piece on Tom Wilson and how the NHL taught him to be a smarter dirty player.
The answer is 537 by the way... at least it was at the time I wrote this.
Nafio’s Women’s Hockey Coverage
With Annie, Gunnar Carlson and 2018 rookie mediajunkie, PPP has assembled a pretty great team to cover women’s hockey in the CWHL, women’s international hockey, the NWHL, and some insights on how women’s hockey is covered by some media outlets.
Want to get a good look into the Leafs’ hiring of women like Hayley Wickenheiser? Want to know how hyped you should be about Sarah Nurse joining the Toronto Furies? Want the best CWHL draft coverage around? Well, y’all are already here aren’t you?
Omar’s Song & Dance
Another one of PPP’s infuriatingly young writers, Omar’s put out some great pieces in 2018. From addressing nebulous concerns about “physicality”, to investigating Morgan Rielly’s Norris candidacy, to his hard-hitting journalistic investigation and analysis of how the Leafs were built.
But most importantly of all, his piece on John Tavares signing with the Leafs as a High School Musical story was fantastic. I don’t even like the High School Musical series and I loved this piece.
Keep up the good work kid.
Species’ Unparalleled FTBs, Recipes & JvR Watch
The second of our dynamic Marlies duo, Species, has been PPP famous for a long time thanks to the depth, research, and hard work he puts in all his FTB links, which IMO rival only Elliotte Friedman for quality content. You can see the same quality of work that goes into his great pieces on the Marlies, and the love and care he puts into tormenting Fulemin by filling his mailbag with Star Trek questions.
But where Species has always shined brightest is in the love affair he had with JvR. I think I speak for most people to say that I was genuinely sad for Species that JvR wound up leaving his basement the Leafs. There was no better person to write a profile of JvR’s time on the Leafs than Species, and we got a great one.
Elseldo — the London Knights of CHL Writers
Where Katya gives us regular reports of Leafs’ prospects and noteworthy players on our radars over in Europe, Elseldo does the same for our North American prospects in the CHL and NCAA. Even all of those players you always forget about — looking at you Ryan McGregor and JD Greenway. Elseldo is also our resident Leafs history and player milestone writer for those of us (raises hand) who are so devoid of a life outside of hockey and/or the Leafs that they actually care about that.
But most importantly of all, Elseldo is our resident troll that we sometimes unleash on the other NHL franchises. And for that, we’re deeply sorry.
At PPP, I’ve mostly been what could best be described as a fourth line plug. I work hard digging in the corners and dishing the routine FTBs, GDTs, and game recaps into the slot for our premier writers mentioned above to spend more time getting quality content opportunities.
But occasionally we may have a B2B in the middle of the season and coach Katya is resting the star writers, and I move up in the lineup a bit. I can write a (probably too-)thorough profile of Riley Stotts, one of our third round picks from this past draft. I can do my annual #BellLetsTalk piece where people can make me hate myself as I write something like “why the Leafs should trade Nylander for Shea Weber”. I can even take a look at the hypothetical trade market for an ACTUAL Nylander-for-Sparky The Defenseman deal thanks to a lot of help and input from everyone else.
But the thing I liked writing the most was about the The John Tavares Free Agency Saga piece. Not long ago I started working on something for the Nylander contract saga until I realized I was just re-writing the Tavares piece.
Cheers to 2018 and hopefully an even better 2019!
What was your favourite part of 2018?
|John Tavares signing with the Leafs
|The Nylander contract finally being signed
|Roman Polak finally moving on
|Elseldo’s apology to the rest of the NHL