Leafs announce the hirings of Mark Fraser and Justin Bobb to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion roles

The Leafs made an important announcement today in regards to Diversity and Inclusion within the Leafs organization with two key hirings:
Via David Alter:

It’s great to see Mark Fraser return to the Leafs, and earlier this year Mark Fraser joined Jason Gregor of TSN 1260 and Oilersnation to speak about his experiences as a Person of Colour in hockey:
It wasn’t a constant thing, however, some of my memorable incidents dealing with racism in hockey came at a younger age, unfortunately. You know whether that be from opposing team’s parents or then at the junior level, ridiculous fans sitting beside the penalty box, and having a few moments to utter some racial slurs your direction. That was definitely something that I experienced before I hit the pros.
At the pro level though, I mean yeah, definitely I encountered it. I don’t think that there is a single black hockey player who hasn’t experienced racism both at grassroots and at pro levels if they made it that far.
The difference between the two, for me, was the overt racism in my youth. At the pro level, it would have been more, more in an inadvertent, perhaps …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

News and Notes: Thornton returning, Sabourin dressing, and interesting names on waivers

Today didn’t seem like a particularly lazy Sunday for the Leafs today, as they have made some significant changes to their lineup following their disappointing collapse against Montreal, and heading into a three game series with the Sens, who on paper are terrible, but on ice somehow manage to step up against the Leafs.

#Leafs lines at practice:
Thornton-Matthews-Marner Hyman-Tavares-NylanderMikheyev-Kerfoot-EngvallVesey-Spezza-Sabourin
Rielly-Brodie Muzzin-HollDermott-Bogosian Marincin-Lehtonen
SRS: Petan, Boyd, Barabanov
— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) February 14, 2021

So that’s different. We see Thornton back on the ice, and with his opening night linemates in Matthews and Marner. The three of them were beginning to click at the time of Thornton’s departure, and seeing what they can do together again seems like a decent idea.
Hyman joining the Tavares and Nylander line is pretty great as well, given that neither Vesey or Mikheyev had anything to offer in their limited time with the second line.
The third line reabsorbs Mikheyev, but remains an uninspired collection of players who serve to remind us that forwards don’t always equal offence.
And the fourth line features Jimmy Vesey who should be in danger of falling out of the lineup following another performance like the …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Pavel Gogolev signs AHL deal with Toronto Marlies

On the AHL transactions page today was the Marlies addition of a 6’1″ Russian LW, Pavel Gogolev. If his name sounds familiar that is because he scores at least 5 goals on every Semyon Der-Arguchintsev highlight reel. The pair of Russians were teammates on Peterborough for parts of 3 seasons from 2016-18, joined by Nick Robertson in 2017.
Gogolev and SDA showed some incredible chemistry, Der-Arguchintsev being an elite passer and Gogolev a top end finisher.

Good goal and nice moves by Peterborough prospect Pavel Gogolev.https://t.co/qvlfkNPbn7 … #OHL pic.twitter.com/hGcKnKL0tT
— Eliteprospects (@eliteprospects) October 12, 2018

Gogolev would eventually be traded to Guelph, picking up some championship experience in the OHL finals. He led the Storm with 96 points and 45 goals in 63 games in 19-20, good for 6th in the OHL.

Fourth year OHLer Pavel Gogolev led the charge for @Storm_City with a 9⃣6⃣-point production, finishing sixth overall in league scoring and fourth in goals with 4⃣5⃣ on the campaign pic.twitter.com/KMAL5T9bEU
— OntarioHockeyLeague (@OHLHockey) April 21, 2020

You are watching Pavel Gogolev of the OHL’s Guelph Storm. He is considered one of the best pure goal scorers in the entire CHL. Watch the NHL release!#brightfuture pic.twitter. …

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Author: Earl Schwartz / The Leafs Nation

The PWHPA partners with the Leafs on a Dream Gap Tour game

Today the PWHPA announced their second NHL team partner on their Dream Gap Tour, and we are pleased to see that it is the Toronto Maple Leafs.

We are proud to announce a formal partnership with the Toronto Maple Leafs!
The @MapleLeafs will host a future @SecretDeodorant Dream Gap Tour game, while also providing enhanced marketing coordination and support, and sponsorship consulting on commercial efforts. pic.twitter.com/SsLWF0wYML
— PWHPA (@PWHPA) February 6, 2021

From the official release:
The partnership involves enhanced marketing coordination and support, sponsorship consulting on commercial efforts, as well as a future Secret Dream Gap Tour game to showcase their players, which will be confirmed once Canadian Government regulations allow, and it is deemed safe to do so.
Comprised of approximately 125 of the world’s best women hockey players, the PWHPA was formed to advocate for, and advance, equity, fairness and opportunity in women’s professional hockey. Specifically, the group is working to provide increased opportunity in women’s hockey with the goal of creating a sustainable league that pays a living wage to players, provides appropriate elite-level resources (i.e. ice time, facilities, trainers, etc.) and invests in marketing that showcases the players and game.
“The …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Jason Spezza Hat-Trick in 7-3 Win over Vancouver

Toronto defeated Vancouver 7-3 today in a dominant display of offense.
The Leafs scored early, scored often, and most importantly, scored at even strength. That is a formula for success in any game, especially when you cannot always rely on consistent officiating. I will limit this to one gripe, and that is the uncalled boarding on Kerfoot:

No call for this hit by Chatfield on Kerfoot. Directly into numbers on a vulnerable player into boards pic.twitter.com/RiK7ZOVZkm
— NHL Safety Watch (@NHLSafetyWatch) February 5, 2021

On to the positives though, this is Jason Spezza’s world and we are all just living in it.

Spezza snipe #LeafsForever pic.twitter.com/TTuxL5N2Yl
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) February 5, 2021

What is so deceptive about this goal is that Spezza constantly uses the fake slap pass, building up his reputation just to lower opposing goaltenders guards.

Sauce and snipe #LeafsForever pic.twitter.com/afLKyXePY4
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) February 5, 2021

Nic Petan made a case for himself staying in the lineup, showing his hockey IQ by passing to ‘free points’ sign, Jason Spezza.

THE SCORING SPEZZALIST #LeafsForever pic.twitter.com/PthxwsfBIU
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) February 5, 2021

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Author: Earl Schwartz / The Leafs Nation

The Blue Jays acquire Steven Matz from the Mets for three prospects (Reid-Foley, Diaz, and Winckowski)

Remember earlier today when Mark Shapiro said that the Blue Jays’ front office still had some “opportunities to be creative?” Well, here’s what he meant.

The Blue Jays have apparently traded three prospects (Sean Reid-Foley, Yennsy Diaz, and Josh Winckowski) to the New York Mets for pitcher Steven Matz…

Sean Reid-Foley, Yennsy Diaz and Josh Winckowski to Mets for Matz per source
— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) January 28, 2021


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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Toronto Marlies season on hold

Today, the AHL released the schedule for the 2021 season. However, they left out a few teams — actually the entire Canadian Division.

.@TheAHL has released the 2020-21 season schedule for the Atlantic, North, Central and Pacific Divisions.
Schedules for the Canadian Division will be forthcoming at a later date.
The league’s 85th season begins two weeks from today. #AHLSchedule
→ https://t.co/AmoKlXvyst pic.twitter.com/38wP5qayvP
— AHL Communications (@AHLPR) January 22, 2021

The AHL has said that each of the four teams in the Canadian Division (Toronto Marlies, Belleville Senators, Laval Rocket and Manitoba Moose) schedules will be announced at a later date. A possible reason to why there’s a delay is because of the Ontario Government:

The #BellevilleSens (and the Marlies) are still awaiting provincial approval to play and rumour is, that won’t come until after Ontario’s expected lockdown end date on Feb.10.#BSensOnBQ #BSens #ForTheB #Sens #AHL
— David Foot (@FootyOnTheAir) January 22, 2021

It looks like the AHL season up north will be delayed, but for how long is the question. Right now the NHL is allowing transactions to and from the clubs’ farm teams, yet for AHL regulars playing in Canada, when they’ll play is still a mystery.

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Digit Murphy previews the Toronto Six season

The women of the Toronto Six head to the bubble today, so what better time to preview the exciting season ahead? With the Toronto Six inaugural season set to start on Saturday in the Lake Placid NWHL bubble, we were fortunate enough to speak with head coach and president Digit Murphy about what fans can expect, what to look forward to, and which players to watch out for.

It’s a strange season to debut a new team, and Murphy and I discussed how that has impacted the team’s preparation.
Digit explained that from October through early January, the team only had 8 players and a couple coaches on the ice together, so the team as a whole will only have had 6 or 7 practices together before heading to the bubble to play games. This puts them at a bit of a disadvantage, as Murphy noted, “the challenge is going to be how do you, during a pandemic and shortened season, get everyone on the same sheet of music to win a championship.”
Nonetheless, despite the strange circumstances and jam packed training schedule, the team is “really excited to play a game.” And when asked about the team’s identity, Murphy …

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Author: Mer / The Leafs Nation

The Leafs’ taxi squad appears to be set

Hockey is finally back today and with it comes the final adjustments to the rosters for opening night. This year is a little bit different (not just because no one is allowed to attend the games live) as the NHL has implemented a taxi squad rule for the 2021 season to help fringe players stay on the ice and remain with the team instead of being stuck in hockey limbo.
It took them a while but the Leafs appear to have put together their taxi squad for the beginning of the campaign.

Toronto Maple #Leafs have opted to start with a 5 player taxi squad:
— CapFriendly (@CapFriendly) January 13, 2021

Upon first glance, there aren’t a whole lot of surprises when it comes to who’s on the list at the start of 2021. Nick Robertson, Mikko Lehtonen, and Rasmus Sandin are all good enough to play in the Leafs lineup right away and them not being in the active lineup is a byproduct of simply having too many quality players. Adam Brooks and Travis Boyd both had impressive showings in the scrimmage last Saturday which might have been enough to earn them a spot on …

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Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation

Auston Matthews to join the penalty kill

Auston Matthews to join the penalty kill

Today is a big day for fans of the power kill. Auston Matthews will now be out on the ice when the Leafs are short handed.

Auston Matthews is going to get part-time PK duties with the #leafs this season.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) January 7, 2021

The Leafs are thankfully breaking away from the league standard model of putting four depth players on the ice and hoping that they can ice the puck for 2 minutes, and instead embracing some factors that seem beyond obvious in player usage.
The most obvious problem with how the penalty is managed is that in addition to being down a player, teams have the tendency to take their best players off the ice for two minutes. It’s never really made sense. Granted if Matthews needs to rest, why not rest him up, but it’s a pretty safe bet that the opposition last season would have been a lot more worried about Auston Matthews being on the ice than Freddie Gauthier.
The next point is to consider what skill players bring to the penalty kill. Auston Matthews is excellent at reading the play and is far more likely to intercept a cross ice pass than Travis …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation