For the first time in what seems like forever, I can actually write one of these FTBs and include some real Leafs news! Hockey news!
The Leafs are continuing their training camp, and we’re starting to see a clearer picture of what lines and players they’ll start with.
First, there were the main practice lines used:
Leafs skating in a main group & reserve group today— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) July 17, 2020
This is pretty much what we would have expected, despite the hype that Robertson was getting. Now, do I think the Leafs could find a better player to help the fourth line and penalty kill than Gauthier? Yes. I do not know what continuous Leafs coaches see in him as a player — as a person he seems like a big cuddly dog.
Defense-wise, it’s a set of pairings that mostly seem awkward but is making the best of what we have to work with. I’d like to see Sandin get in there if there was a way but given his performance in the NHL this year not being that stellar, I can understand it. I do think his smart playmaking to exit the zone would help against an aggressive forechecking team, but meh.
If you’re wondering where Nicholas Robertson is, well...
Nick Robertson isn't on the ice with the #leafs main group this morning. Appears he'll be part of the "reserve practice" later on.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) July 17, 2020
The deeper in the playoffs the Leafs go, the better chance Robertson has to get into a game. He’ll have more time to practice and train with other professional hockey league players, which will help his development whether he gets into games or not. But as Dubas has pointed out, teams that make long playoff runs go through injuries. Robertson just needs to keep working his ass off, and maybe he’ll get called when the opportunity presents itself.
Ditto to Sandin.
Speaking of defense, there was experimentation going on with the defensive pairings:
One interesting nugget from Sheldon Keefe today: Leafs experimented with Travis Dermott playing the right side alongside Morgan Rielly.— Jonas Siegel (@jonassiegel) July 17, 2020
Another option potentially in camp and beyond.
I’m guessing this is practicing for more situational use, because that would leave the third pairing as... Ceci and Barrie? Two RHD seems not ideal, which is why I can see them running a Rielly-Dermott pair after, say, Ceci was on a long PK or Barrie finishes a PP shift.
ONTO THE LINKS
Diversity in hockey was again in the spotlight on Friday. First, @MerOutLoud wrote this piece for The Leafs Nation:
Sources say the Hockey Diversity Alliance has held a series of formal meetings with #NHL’s Gary Bettman and Kim Davis over last few weeks.— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) July 17, 2020
Meetings have been described as “productive but contentious at times.”
HDA has proposed a series of reforms (cont’d):
Look, one of the reasons why I love PPP is because of how diverse the writers and commenters are. Kudos to Katya for attracting all these writers and making the site what it is today!
Sidelined: How diversity in Canada's sports leadership falls short | CBC Sports
The vast majority of leadership positions in Canadian sport — from the NHL and CFL to high-performance governing bodies and university athletics — are occupied by people who are white. For many Black, Indigenous and persons of colour, that is a problem.
Other news from the Leafs’ training camp:
Ilya Mikheyev did a Zoom interview in English for the first time. He is precious and must be protected at all costs!
Timothy Liljegren is still working back from an apparent injury or illness.
Liljegren skating on his own prior to #Leafs practice.— Terry Koshan (@koshtorontosun) July 17, 2020
Toronto Maple Leafs’ prospect Vladislav Kara has been traded to another KHL team, where is likely to get more playing time on a less stacked team.
AROUND THE HOCKEY WORLD
The MLB is showing the near future for the NHL as they get to re-starting their season. As long as you test players frequently and take swift action to keep guys who may have been exposed even secondarily to someone who has COVID-19, you can cut your active cases down pretty quicky.
From MLB: The # of monitoring samples collected and tested in the past week was 10,548; 6 of 10,548 samples, which is 0.05%, have been new positives.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 17, 2020
The past week included a 5-day period in which no new positives were reported.
5 of the 6 positives were players; 1 a staff member
And if you ever thought it would have been better to have all NHL teams get to the hubs and out of the USA sooner rather than later, well... the NHL and NHLPA thought about it too.
Several player agents and doctors argued NHL teams should hold training camps in Toronto, Edmonton, or other communities with low rates of Covid.— Rick Westhead (@rwesthead) July 17, 2020
Players said no because of the extra several weeks away from their families. https://t.co/Rj9hmXm1Pn
News about how the hockey broadcasts will be managed:
For those curious, per The Athletic, the NHL is planning to use fake crowd noise on televised broadcasts. However, the "crowd" noise will not be heard in-arena (so players will not hear it).— Scott MacDonald (@0ffScottFree) July 17, 2020
There will also be up to a 7 second tape delay...for obvious expletive-related reasons.
DOWN GOES BROWN FROM THE TOP ROPE!
Oh good, an Oilers rebuild where they just need to upgrade a Hall, what could go wrong. https://t.co/hMa54Wuelz— Down Goes Brown (@DownGoesBrown) July 17, 2020
And then there’s THIS asshole.
Jeremy Roenick claims NBC firing was anti-straight discrimination https://t.co/BSjvWS7D9U— Variety (@Variety) July 17, 2020
Have a great weekend everyone!