This is for you Toronto Maple Leafs fans. If you’re like us, you miss heading to the neighbourhood lounge to meet up with some friends and watch and/or talk about your favourite team. That’s why we made the Maple Leafs Lounge. The crew members who cover the Maple Leafs for The Hockey Writers get together once a week in our virtual lounge to talk about the topics and storylines swirling around the team. So grab your favourite beverage and join us in the Maple Leafs Lounge. Here’s a recap of our last edition.
How Good is the Oilers Vs Leafs Series?
The Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers are wrapping up their nine-game regular-season series. If you eliminated the first time these two teams met, this series has been a blast to watch. The crew discuss their observations from the series. Yours truly, admitted that after watching the first match-up between Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid, these two clubs would meet in the Stanley Cup Final in three years. That was four years ago. While that prediction may be out the window, it would be great to see these two teams meet in the second round this season.
Goalies, Goalies and more Goalies
Another hot topic in the lounge was the goalie situation. While the crew seems satisfied with Jack Campbell, you can’t help but wonder if he is the answer for the rest of the season and a playoff run. The Old Prof gave the guys a quick class. He told us about backward design, explaining how it works, “now that you have this, let’s go backwards and see how it might be.” That was how he set up his article that explored Jonathan Quick and Alex Iafallo coming to Toronto. The Prof said, “the logic is crazy, but Dubas is always surprising me with some things that he does.”
Alex Hobson dove deeper into the goalie situation in Toronto beyond this season. He explained that newly acquired Veini Vehvilainen could be part of a longer-term plan, and at the very least, will get a good look by the Maple Leafs staff. Hobson said, “all due respect to Michael Hutchinson if you have an opportunity to check out another goalie to see what you have in him, I don’t know why the Leafs wouldn’t take the opportunity.” Hobson explained that while Campbell will be starting the majority of games, he will need a rest at some point – opening the door for Vehvilainen.
Galchenyuk and Barrie
The writers chatted about how impressive the rebound has been for Alex Galchenyuk. He has found his place on the second line and has earned captain John Tavares’s trust. Peter Baracchini said, “we are all in shock and awe right now as to how quick Galchenyuk has developed – from a sort of a fringe NHL player to a legitimate top-six player for the Maple Leafs, right now.” Barracchini said that Galcheyuk’s quick turnaround speaks volumes about the Leafs development system.
The discussion about a reclamation project turned to include a former Maple Leaf, Tyson Barrie. Barrie played just one season in Toronto and never lived up to expectations. However, he has found his place with the Oilers. It led to a discussion about how different the team would be if Dubas could pull the trade with Calgary two years ago. That deal would’ve sent Nazem Kadri to the Flames and brought T.J. Brodie to Toronto one year earlier. Either way, Brodie is the perfect fit in Toronto, and Barrie has found new life in Edmonton.
Deadline Day Dud?
The crew could not come up with an idea of how this year’s trade deadline is going to play out. I predicted that it will be one of the quietest deadlines in recent memory. With the quarantine issues, even with it being shortened to seven days, mixed with the division structure and all points staying in the division, I just think it will hard to pull off a trade. My friends seemed to agree with me as we came up with a new slogan for all things about the trade deadline – I don’t know.
To wrap up the show, the crew talked about interesting comments on the web. Each week we look through comments on articles in social media or other sources to discuss. Hobson seemed vindicated, as a comment on one of his posts was critical about his view that Toronto’s handling of Galchenyuk will pay dividends. Barracchini read a tweet from Hobson that solidifies why any new Leafs player should stay away from wearing number 26. The Old Prof said he finds it strange when he sees players saying, “we just have to play our game.” The Prof wondered, “who’s game would you play?”Make sure to leave a comment so we can discuss upcoming shows.
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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.