Happy Halloween! For the trick-or-treaters approaching the home of the Toronto Maple Leafs, they may notice something different. It isn’t as lovely and pleasant as they may have remembered. For the past couple of seasons, the scariest thing at Scotiabank Arena has been a life-size plush teddy bear named Carlton. That said, he could be terrifying too – just ask Auston Matthews.
The cotton candy spiderwebs have been replaced with strains of grey beard hair from the ancient hockey legend known only as Jumbo. When you turn the corner, you have to duck fast because someone is waiting to “punch your head off” – and there is even a life-size Bogey. Yes, the Friendly Maple Castle is now a Dungeon of Toronto Terror. Alright, alright, that may be a stretch, but it’s Halloween – have some fun and use your imagination.
Kyle Dubas is Full of Tricks
Toronto’s general manager didn’t wait for Oct. 31 to pull some tricks. A team pegged to be in salary cap hell after the flat cap was announced, the Leafs’ Kyle Dubas has somehow managed to sign a full roster. Opting not to pursue the biggest fish in the free-agent market in Alex Pietrangelo, Dubas used the money to bring in more depth, while addressing the roster needs.
T.J. Brodie, Zach Bogosian (Bogey), Wayne Simmonds (punch your head off) and (Jumbo) Joe Thornton, just to name a few. Dubas will have to keep up the tricks all season. To stay cap compliant, he will be sending waiver exempt players to minors and calling up players every game.
Jumbo provides Treats for Everyone
It is going to be a treat to watch a future Hall of Famer play in Toronto. Thornton will put on the No. 97 and add his hometown Leafs to his playing portfolio. It’s been a long time since Leafs’ Nation has had the pleasure of watching a Hall of Fame player.
There are 60 Toronto players, including the Arenas and St. Pats, in hockey’s shrine. The last Maple Leaf was Ed Belfour, who played in Toronto from 2002-2006. Sure, there may be some young guys who could be Hall of Fame-worthy one day, but we are a long way away from that conversation.
Wayne Simmonds Has Some Tricks
Simmonds has stunts to keep the trick or treaters entertained. Minutes after signing with the Leafs, Simmonds told reporters he is the kind of player who can “punch your head off.” However, that won’t be the best trick for the 32-year-old. Simmonds has suffered from several significant injuries over the years. His stats have shown the decline due to those injuries. The intimidating big man is thrilled to play for his hometown and says the pandemic has given him ample time to heal and rehabilitate years of breaks, bumps and bruises.
Travis Dermott Hands Out Treats
Travis Dermott was the last piece of must-do business for the Maple Leafs. After the Toronto blue line was decimated with injuries last season, The 23-year-old had to progress much quicker. Dermott found himself playing essential minutes in the top four. He was due for a raise, now he makes $874,125, just $10,000 more than last season.
To put that in perspective, Auston Matthews made $7,925 per minute played last season. Dermott wanted to get the deal done and stay with his hometown Maple Leafs. He gave Dubas a treat by taking far less than market value and betting on himself with a one-year extension.
There is something else that is different this Halloween at Scotiabank Arena. No hockey. The biggest trick of them all will be figuring out how to get the season started, so all of us fans can be treated to the best sport on the planet.
Kevin Armstrong is an award-winning journalist with more than two decades of experience. He’s been rink side for World Juniors, Memorial Cups, Calder Cups and Stanley Cups. Like many Canadian kids, his earliest memories include hockey. Kevin has spent countless hours in arenas throughout the country watching all levels of the game.