Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers would square off in rumoured NHL playoffs format

A playoff format believed to be favoured by NHL front officers would see the Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Rangers square off in the first round of the playoffs following the pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The format, which would see 24-teams get a shot at Lord Stanley, could see eight teams get a bye in the first round with 16 teams lining up to play in a best-of-three play-in, Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reported.
In the west, St. Louis, Colorado, Vegas and Edmonton get a bye, while in the east, Boston, Tampa, Washington and Philadelphia would sit out the first round.
Those initial games could be held across four days in a fashion similar to how the NHL began the 1978 Stanley Cup Playoffs and set the matchups for Round 1.
The concept isn’t without seeding challenges. Teams had played an uneven number of games when the regular season was paused last week, so points percentage would have to be used. And there’s also a belief among clubs that there would need to be a nod to the divisions rather than just a straight conference ranking.
That would see Toronto bumped to a higher seed …

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Author: Zach Laing / The Leafs Nation

‘I’m excited to be somewhere I’m wanted’: How Anthony Bass thrived in Japan, and came back stronger than ever

For years, Anthony Bass believed that Major League Baseball players going to play in Japan signalled the end of their careers in North America. He, like many other scribes and athletes, thought that foreign baseball was easier and less demanding than its North American equivalent. 
Now, he regards Japanese professional baseball as a vastly different, not lesser, challenge for players everywhere. 
“A lot of people don’t realize how talented the players are in Japan,” he told Blue Jays Nation. “There were so many players I played against that could’ve easily played professional ball here.”
In the fall of 2015, the Texas Rangers traded him to the Seattle Mariners, who in turn tendered him a contract not long after. That winter, the Mariners signed three relievers — Steve Cishek, Blake Parker, and Donn Roach — leaving him on the outside looking in. 
Even though he was committed to the Mariners, Japanese teams had been interested in him all winter, checking in at various points throughout the offseason. Conversations between his agent and Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) clubs really started to pick up near the end of December, leading Bass to ask for his release to sign with the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters. 
With …

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Author: Hayden Godfrey / Blue Jays Nation

William Nylander isn’t going anywhere (so please, stop the madness)

If pundits are to be believed, William Nylander’s time as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs is dangerously close to its end.
We’ve been hearing about this since last year. There were constant radio hits declaring him as lazy, or selfish, or short-sighted, or soft. He was too self-centred to be a part of a team that just needed him to take a nice discount, and teams were told to prepare offers to get him off of Toronto’s hands.
Now, we’ve all but come full circle. Even though Nylander has 11 points in 16 games, fits in perfectly as a secondary face-off taker in the Maple Leafs’ top six, and is a phenomenal play driver for Toronto, we’re back on our bullshit as a collective internet community.
It’s only been a year since Nylander was on the mythical trading block for his extended contract negotiations, but he’s back on the Narnia block once again — this time, inexplicably, to make room for Zach Hyman.

“Once Hyman’s back, if Nylander is not shopped I’m going to be really surprised.”@mikezigomanis thinks the #Leafs could be making a big move in the near future @ScottyMacThinks @SmrtAsh.#LeafsForever | # …

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Author: Cat Silverman / The Leafs Nation