Page 6ix Wednesday, May 5th: The Rangers take on NHL Player Safety

Happy Hump Day gossip hounds. I’m sure there are little things we can and will touch on from around the league, but obviously the big story is the Tom Wilson-New York Rangers-NHL Player Safety saga to wrap our heads around, so we’ll get to that shortly. Let’s start, though, as always, with what’s happening in Leafs-land.
Leafs Lads
Happy birthday Mitch Marner! Everyone’s favorite overgrown Leafs kid is celebrating today:

Happy birthday Mitchy!
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) May 5, 2021

Our still sidelined goalie Frederik Andersen is talking about where he likes to eat in Toronto (when not in lockdown, obviously):

The Dish • Episode Three: Mary Be Kitchen@MastercardCA invited @f_andersen30 to tell us about one of his favourite spots.
Watch here »
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) May 4, 2021

And the Leafs have signed a new baby player:

We’ve signed forward Kirill Semyonov to a one year entry-level contract for the 2021-22 season. #LeafsForever
Details »
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) May 5, 2021

Welcome to Leafsnation, Kirill. Good luck and godspeed.
At practice …

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Author: Mer / The Leafs Nation

Leafs face off against Canucks in their first game since Covid variant outbreak

I’m not going to lie, I’m very surprised that this game is happening tonight. Whether they gave them an extra week or just straight up ended their season, it still feels too soon for the Canucks to be coming into action considering everything we’ve heard about what they were dealing with, and what JT Miller said about the team’s status a few days ago.
It’s one thing if the team was in that typical hockey team mindset, just pumped up and ready to go to play some more games. But, they’ve made it very clear they don’t want to, and even some players family members have gotten the variant because of it. When players on the team like Travis Hamonic opted out of the bubble last year because his child was more vulnerable, this becomes an issue beyond more than just the game.
Even from a Leafs perspective, this must be a really weird situation to be in. You’re up against a team playing their first game in 24 days, and is probably not in the right conditioning to play a full 60 minute game against the best team in the division. If you …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

Maple Leafs give up four goals to the Ottawa Senators – Rate That Leafs Game

I’m not going to sit here and blame the loss of this game on the fact that the Toronto Maple Leafs flew to Ottawa on the day of a game. To say that that was the reason they lost is just preposterous. The Maple Leafs lost because they’re in a rut, of all things. And what they need to do is get out of it before it’s too late.
A little adversity won’t hurt a team, and yes, the Maple Leafs weren’t going to win every game this season. But it’s time they put the foot down, play like they did prior to this slump, and win some games.
I hope you enjoy tonight’s video!

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Leafs players who have a realistic shot at representing Canada at the 2022 Olympics

It feels like I’m a month removed from being annoyed by TSN and Sportsnet filling time during the draft and free agency discussing their mock rosters for the 2022 Canadian Olympic Men’s Hockey Team. Alas, there are no more draft picks, free agents, or trades incoming at the moment, so it’s time that I too take a trip to that content well, and consider what Leafs could be representing their country at the Olympics.
Rather than start with the international players and work towards Canada, it seems much more fitting to kick this off with the country most of our readership will be excited about. Latvia. Canada. And while the Leafs haven’t been fond of drafting Canadians in the past couple of seasons, there are a number of Canadians on the Leafs, and many of them play at a high enough level to be considered.

So both Craig Button and Mike Johnson weighed in with their rosters, and to the joy of Leafs fans it appears that both Morgan Rielly and Mitch Marner would be on their Team Canada rosters. And why shouldn’t they be, statistically the case for both of them is sound.
Morgan Rielly …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Lamenting the Leafs: Soup’s On

I’m excited to be introducing the Lamenting the Leafs podcast, a brand new show hosted by three Leafs fans from Atlantic Canada. Myself, along with my longtime friends Cam MacEachern and Keith Whipple, will strive to bring you insightful analysis of everything that’s happening in Leafs Nation and the hockey world at large, while having some fun along the way. We hope you’ll give it a listen, and if you like what you hear, subscribe to the podcast to stay up to date with future episodes.
In our debut show we discuss Kyle Dubas’ teambuilding philosophy, how the additions of TJ Brodie, Joe Thornton, Wayne Simmonds, and Zach Bogosian change the look of the Leafs lineup, and provide initial reactions to some breaking news regarding the latest Leafs signing.
Follow us on twitter @LamentingLeafs, @CarlPeelash, @keithwhipp, and @_NickRichard

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Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation

An Open Letter to the NHL

As a minority, I’m embarrassed to say that I watch the NHL so closely. I’m incredibly disappointed that the NHL isn’t taking proper action to condemn police brutality. Not once has the NHL said “Black Lives Matter.” It has only been said by Matt Dumba; we’ve seen Ryan Reaves kneel; and the fact that white players and executives aren’t explicitly saying “Black Lives Matter” or that so few players are kneeling (Tyler Seguin, Jason Dickinson, Robin Lehner) is incredibly frustrating. 
The #WeSkateFor hashtag is even more annoying. It’s been used to “condemn racism” with the following text as 

“black lives”
“justice, equality and black lives”
“community heroes”

but it’s also been used to celebrate, with the following text as: 

“StormSurges” from the Carolina Hurricanes
“TheTowel” for the Vancouver Canucks
“the #ALLCAPS family,” from the Washington Capitals
“Vegas” for the Golden Knights and its city

It’s been used to remember Colby Cave too, but there should …

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Author: Matthew Henriques / The Leafs Nation

That’ll fix’em. Engvall in for Gauthier

Maybe I’m being a tad over-reactionary, but I’d argue that Keefe might be under-reacting by only making one small change to his Game One lineup…

August 3 @MapleLeafs practice lines & defensive pairings:
Andersen Campbell#LeafsForever
— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) August 3, 2020

I’m sure I’m not being too bold when I say that the minimally used fourth line was not the issue for the Leafs on Sunday night, and swapping in Engvall for Gauthier might not be a significant move.
On the other hand, it doesn’t hurt. Engvall is more versatile and is more capable of keeping up with play in the top nine. If Keefe wants to attempt some in game line juggling, Engvall is a stronger option.
The fact that it doesn’t seem the Leafs are too concerned with playing the fourth line, having situational talent could be more beneficial to the Leafs, and Gauthier, while a fine regular season fourth line player, just might lack in the ability …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Please NHL, put us out of our misery and announce the Hub Cities already

Living in Edmonton I feel like I’m in the one city that remotely cares about this Hub City saga. The Premier has hilariously shared videos of the province where all the footage is four hours away from the flat prairie city in which the players would be locked down. The media provides daily updates on the status of the Hub City bid, and there seems to be a resentment towards the league if they choose to go with any location that has been strong in its containment of COVID-19. Perhaps that last point is a valid one, but if you’re putting a bubble around the hockey community, it probably doesn’t matter as much about what city they use along as they are effective in maintaining the bubble.
Long story short, I suspect that everyone outside of Edmonton doesn’t care where they play, and either falls into the camps of
A) Just name the cities and get on with it already.
B) For the love of God, just cancel it and let’s try for a 2020-21 season when we’re all feeling better about this.
Admittedly, I’ve shifted …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

What does 2019 tell us about the Blue Jays chances in Weird Year?

Before I get into this I’m going to put the disclaimer right at the top: I have deep and unrelenting reservations about the wisdom of even trying to play baseball this year, this is not me endorsing the idea. But they seem determined to and given that circumstance, I confess to having a bit of a fetish for the sort of speculation which follows, which is this: What can we learn from 2019 as we attempt to forecast how the Blue Jays might fare in this bizarre short season?
Admittedly, all of this is highly speculative, given that they do not operate in a vacuum (i.e. how other teams have changed affects how competitive they are relative to the Jays in any given game) and given that no player simply reproduces the same level of production year over year. But the temptation to try and read the tea leaves is irresistible so I’m gonna do it.
One more small disclaimer. This must be considered at least in passing:

Passan notes on Writers Bloc that if the Blue Jays hold Nate Pearson down for 7 days, then they’ll get an extra year of control. HAVE AT IT TWITTER.
& …

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Author: Tammy Rainey / Blue Jays Nation

Around the NHL: Hub City Decision seems like it’s being left to the last minute

Maybe I’m in the minority on this one, but I truly couldn’t care less where teams end up playing. If the plan is to create a bubble around the players where they won’t be out interacting with the population and no one will be attending their games, whether they play in Vegas or Nashville or Regina doesn’t really matter. Okay, that’s not true. No one should ever have to visit Regina.

Vegas will be a hub city for NHL playoff games and we should expect the official announcement before June 22.
The other depends on how the Canadian government chooses to enforce the 14-day quarantine for those entering the country. (@reporterchris)
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) June 13, 2020
The point being that while we seem to now know that Vegas will be one of the two Hub cities, and there does seem to be a deadline in place of next Monday for an announcement, but doesn’t that seem ridiculously rushed.
From the Las Vegas Review-Journal:
MGM Resorts hotels in play to host visiting teams include Vdara, Delano, the Park MGM/NoMad Hotel and The Mirage, according to …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation