It’s been a tough week for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Their run of victories ended with two losses in a row, which hasn’t happened in a long time. Second, within the organization, Toronto Marlies assistant coach Rob Davison had a medical emergency in Texas.
However, there is some good news as the team prepares to face the Florida Panthers on Sunday. In this post, I’d like to help Maple Leafs fans stay up-to-date on what’s happening.
Item One: Marlies Assistant Coach Rob Davison Suffers a Medical Emergency
On Friday night, the Toronto Marlies assistant coach Rob Davison had a medical emergency in the locker room right before the game against the Texas Stars near Austin, Texas. As a result of the emergency, and this was minor in the scheme of things, the Marlies forfeited their game against the Stars on Friday night.
Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas announced, “Following what happened tonight with Rob in front of our players and staff … I was informed by the leadership group that the entire team was in a state of shock and not comfortable proceeding with tonight’s game. We fully support our players and staff in this matter.”
Just this morning, my phone buzzed the news that Davison suffered a seizure but that the 39-year-old coach was discharged from the hospital.
Item Two: A Feel-Good Story About a Backup Goalie
In contrast to the bad news about Davison’s medical emergency, every so often I read a feel-good story that’s worth sharing with fans. This story comes from the Maple Leafs’ mini-tournament held at Nathan Phillips Square last Thursday.
One person who was especially happy was an aging backup goalie who fills-in any time either the Maple Leafs or the Marlies need someone to play goal. That’s 42-year-old Dave Ayres.
What made Ayres’ day so special was that he filled in for Maple Leafs starter Frederik Andersen because Andersen was taking advantage of a rest day. Ayres played with the roster of Maple Leafs players in front of all the fans who came out to watch the team.
Ayres was almost gushing about the experience, saying the team “treated me like one of the guys.” Ayres is known within the organization because he’s in his third season serving as an emergency backup. In his regular job, he works for the Coca Cola Coliseum, but he also fills in as a net-minder whenever a spare goalie is needed for practice.
He sort of happened into the job, noting that “They had a couple of goalies that were hurt, so I ended up bringing my gear in and then they’re like, you’re pretty decent.”
Ayres was former Junior B goalie in Port Perry and Oshawa, Ont. However, his hopes for a career were dashed when he was sidelined because he needed a kidney transplant when he was in his mid-20s. He had been “to a few camps, I went to a San Jose pro-am camp, I went to (the ECHL) for a bit and never played a game. I was supposed to go play hockey in the Central League when I got sick.”
Fortunately, his mother donated one of her kidneys and he’s recovered.
About playing with the Maple Leafs in last week’s mini-tournament, Ayres noted: “It’s a lot of fun. I’ve been with a lot of these players since they came through the Marlies’ system. Got some friendships going. I’ve been around it for a long time. But it’s cool to be with the Leafs organization.” (from “Leafs’ outdoor practice is an opportunity for a goalie who gave up his NHL dream long ago.” The Star, Kevin McGran, 01/09/20)
Item Three: Timashov’s Taking Advantage of Little Ice Time
Talk about someone who’s making the most of what he gets, Dmytro Timashov scored a goal in the Jan. 8 4-3 shootout loss to the Winnipeg Jets. However, that success didn’t encourage coach Sheldon Keefe to give him more shifts. In fact, the young Russian skated his season’s low of just under three minutes of ice time (2:49 to be exact).
Timashov barely sees the ice these days, which is one reason rumors have been leaking out that he’s asked Dubas to move him to another team. Given his success with such meager ice time and his reputation as a physical player, there should be a taker somewhere in the NHL.
Item Four: Is Johnsson Getting Close to Suiting Up?
Reports are that Andreas Johnsson is practicing with the team without a no-contact jersey and that he’ll be traveling with the team to Florida for its game against the Panthers.
Johnsson has been sidelined since early December with a leg injury, but he’s been upgraded to day-to-day ahead of Sunday’s contest, so his return appears to be imminent. Should he play, we’ll know just prior to the game.
Item Five: Marincin Signs On For Another Season
On Jan. 10, Martin Marincin re-upped with the team, signing a one-year $700,000 contract extension. It’s the same salary he’s making this season; however, the signing is significant for two reasons. First, it shows that – even as a depth defenseman – Marincin has value to the team and second, the Maple Leafs need inexpensive contracts because of the team’s salary-cap situation and getting the young defenseman at league minimum helps.
Item Six: Are the Maple Leafs Interested in Josh Anderson?
Obviously, given the Maple Leafs salary-cap difficulties, any move the team makes must be a low-cost option. Towards that end, TSN’s Pierre LeBrun noted on TSN Radio 1050 that he thinks one “buy-low candidate” might be the Columbus Blue Jackets’ Josh Anderson.
As LeBrun reported, “If I were the Leafs, (Josh Anderson) is a guy – with his skill set – it’s one thing to be able to grind it up and be a physical player, but he’s also a guy I believe that can score 25 goals a year in the National Hockey League when he gets his game right.”
The upside for such a move is that Anderson plays a physical game and, other than Zach Hyman, that’s something the Maple Leafs lack. It’s not such a big deal during the regular season but it’s proven to be so in recent Stanley Cup runs. The downside is that Anderson is a risky move because he’s been injured.
What’s Next with the Maple Leafs?
The team has a quick stop against the Panthers on Sunday before returning to Toronto for three home games next week. They’re on a two-game losing streak, so cementing their position in the playoffs will take some wins. The Panthers have been up-and-down, but they hammered the Vancouver Canucks at home in their latest game.
Finally, it sounds as if the Rob Davison situation has settled positively. THW wishes the best to him and his family.