It’s old news now, but the NHL has suspended the 2019-20 season until further notice as a response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The league made the announcement in a statement Thursday afternoon following a conference call with the board of governors.
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Toronto Maple Leafs President Brendan Shanahan quickly released a statement that the team fully supported that decision.
No one is certain how long the season will remain suspended but my guess is that fans should prepare for a longer suspension rather than a shorter one. In the meantime, I’ll continue to write posts that keep Maple Leafs fans in touch with their team.
I’m not quite sure what writing about the Maple Leafs looks like at this moment, but Toronto is one of the storied Original Six NHL franchises and that means there are lots of stories.
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Until the season resumes, my plan is to write stories focused on the history of the organization, player profiles, and the odd rumor or two I uncover in my daily research. Specifically, in this post, I will share two player’s profiles – one about a newcomer to the Maple Leafs roster goalie Jack Campbell and a second about Zach Hyman’s other profession – being a children’s author. Finally, I share a rumor that Auston Matthews was close to being offer sheeted by the Arizona Coyotes last summer.
Item One: Is Jack Campbell “Soupy” the Best Teammate in the NHL?
A post that was written for the National Hockey League’s Players Association (NHLPA) on Mar. 12 by Chis Lemon noted that Jack Campbell is “pretty much” the best teammate in the NHL. At least that’s what Mitch Marner and Zack Hyman say.
Campbell has only been with the Maple Leafs over a month, but the 29-year-old made a positive impression after being traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs from the Los Angeles Kings just before the trade deadline in February.
When asked what made Campbell so special, teammate Hyman noted that the first thing that came to mind was his “attitude and work ethic.” Hyman continued, “Every day, he comes in with a positive attitude and is always putting in extra work to work on his own game, but also to help his teammates.”
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The post suggests that the word “genuine” is often used by teammates to describe the backup goalie. He’s supportive and encouraging of everyone, from “tapping players’ shin pads after a play stoppage, to regularly commenting on their social media posts.” Campbell’s energy is always positive.
The post cited Marner as saying, “He really puts everyone before himself, and he takes care of others.” Obviously, that’s always been Campbell – even when times are tough, he’s encouraging and caring. Someone described Jack Campbell’s occupation in addition to being a goalie as the team’s official nice guy.
Item Two: Zach Hyman’s Other Work – He’s a Children’s Author
Like many Canadian kids, Zach Hyman wanted to be an NHL player. And, he’s succeeded. He’s a fixture in the Maple Leafs’ top six and, although he started the season on the injured reserve, he’s having perhaps the best season of his career.
But, Hyman also has another career – and one that will probably last much longer than his NHL playing days. It’s the kind of dual career that “believing in one’s self” can bring.
Hyman has written three books. His most recent is titled The Magician’s Secret and it’s the story of a young boy who is transported through history by his grandfather’s stories. Although this is Hyman’s only book not about sports, all of his books share one characteristic. The children in Hyman’s books are courageous.
When asked why he wrote the book, Hyman noted, “When you’re a kid, sometimes you get told, ‘Oh no, you can’t do this or you can’t do that.’ But really the whole world is ahead of you and you can do whatever you want.”
Hyman believes having the courage to try is “a really important message that I think sometimes gets lost in translation for kids.” His book is about helping children learn to follow their dreams.
Hyman’s first book was titled: Hockey Hero, a book he first wrote in Grade 7 as a short story. His second book, The Bambino and Me, is a baseball story about Babe Ruth he started in high school.
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Hockey Hero is the story of a shy young boy, who is bullied because he stutters. But, with his grandfather’s help, the young boy takes a leap of faith. Hyman’s second book, The Bambino and Me, tells the story of a boy who meets and listens to Babe Ruth sharing his wisdom after a trip to the ballpark with his father. As the Bambino says, “It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.”
The message of never giving up comes across in Hyman’s books. His books encourage children to take chances. Because “you never know what can happen.” Hyman encourages children not to quit.
Using Babe Ruth’s words, “And if you fall you can always pick yourself back up and swing big again. And eventually, you’re going to hit that home run.”
Hyman was inspired by his grandfather, who would tell story after story for the five Hyman brothers. One day, the grandfather would be a baseball star, another day it would be football. Those heroic stories inspired his grandsons. Hyman came to believe the truth embedded in his grandfather’s endless imagination, and this imagination inspired The Magicians Secret.
Item Three: Were the Arizona Coyotes Going to Offer Sheet Auston Matthews Last Summer?
Matt Layman of Arizona Sports reported that Elliotte Friedman believed the Arizona Coyotes intended to offer sheet the Maple Leafs Auston Matthews if he hadn’t re-signed by July 1.
As Friedman reported, “The Toronto Maple Leafs 100% believed that if Auston Matthews got to July 1 last year, Arizona was going to offer-sheet him seven years, the max. Friedman noted that he had followed the rumor and that people around the league told him it was the case.
“Nobody has said to me that’s false. I think the Leafs believed it, I think the Coyotes were going to do it and I think the league knew it. So the attitude is moving.”
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It’s an interesting theory and makes sense given that Matthews still lives in the Phoenix area during the offseason.