In this edition of Toronto Maple Leafs’ News & Rumors, I’ll share news about a possible Heritage Classic game between the Maple Leafs and the Buffalo Sabres in Hamilton. Second, I’ll look at some statistics Maple Leafs’ fans might find interesting.
Third, I’ll look at the goalie tandem for the Maple Leafs and some of the career milestones each goalie might reach this coming season. Finally, I’ll share news about a new goalie signing with the Toronto Marlies.
Item One: Item Two: Will There Be an Outdoor Game Between the Sabres and the Maple Leafs?
According to an article in the Buffalo News, the NHL is considering an NHL Heritage Classic game between the Buffalo Sabres and Maple Leafs that would take place halfway between Buffalo and Toronto in Hamilton, Ontario. The tentative date set is March 13. (from “Sabres could be headed to Hamilton for outdoor game vs. Maple Leafs,” Mike Harrington, Buffalo News, 29/08/21).
If the game happens, and there’s lots of maybes around the possibility of putting it on given COVID-19, it would be the fourth time the Maple Leafs would have played a game outdoors. It would also be the third time they would have been the away team in an outdoor game.
The venue for the game would be Tim Horton’s Field, which is the home of the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats. During regular games, the field seats about 23,000 fans; however, it can be expanded to hold close to 40,000 for special events. And one special event coming just prior to that outdoor NHL game would be the 108th Grey Cup, which is scheduled for Hamilton on December 12, 2021.
Last June, the NHL public relations tweeted that it planned to schedule a Tim Horton’s Heritage Classic sometime in March 2022. Apparently, when someone looked at the Sabres’ schedule released last week, the March 13 date that should have held an afternoon Sabres’ home game with Toronto was absent. That made Sabres’ fans curious.
The Canada-based Heritage Classic was most recently held in Regina, Saskatchewan, in 2019 where the Winnipeg Jets beat the Calgary Flames by a score of 2-1. The Maple Leafs are the only Canadian team who haven’t participated in the Heritage Classic, but they have played three outdoor games. Including the inaugural 2008 Winter Classic, the Sabres have played in two outdoor contests. If the game is played between the Sabres and Leafs, Buffalo would be the first non-Canadian team to take part.
Below, you can watch the shootout between the Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings from the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on January 1, 2014, held at The Big House, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
So far, the NHL has two outdoor games scheduled for the 2021-22 regular season. The Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues will take part in the Winter Classic, and the Nashville Predators play the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Stadium Series.
Item Two: Interesting Fact about Maple Leafs’ Franchise
Regularly, in researching my posts, I come across what I think are amazing statistics that I hadn’t seen before. One that I found a few days ago that I hadn’t heard anyone mention was that the Maple Leafs, as a franchise, have won exactly 3000 regular-season games. Who knew?
For those who care, the franchise record is 3000-2829-783-174 (the last two numbers represent ties and overtime losses). In total the franchise has registered 6957 points. They should record their 7000 point this season.
Item Three: Interesting Fact about Maple Leafs’ Franchise Goalie Wins
Here are a few facts about Maple Leafs’ goalie wins over the history of the franchise. Although Jack Campbell has only played 28 games in his career for the Maple Leafs, he already sits 33rd in franchise history with 20 wins. Given how old the franchise is, that struck me as odd. Should Campbell win 20 games this season, which one should probably expect, he’d pass both Jonas Gustavsson and Andrew Raycroft on the franchise’s all-time wins list. Both players have registered 39 wins in their Maple Leafs’ careers.
Considering the two-goalie tandem that will share the net this season, over the course of his career Petr Mrazek has 128 wins (which is 22 wins away from 150) and Campbell has 40 wins (which is ten away from 50). As noted, Campbell should hit that goal easily and Mrazek has an outside chance to win 22 games to hit the 150 mark.
Item Four: Keith Petruzzelli Signs With AHL’s Toronto Marlies
Speaking of goalies in the organization, the Maple Leafs’ goalie situation might have received a boost when the Toronto Marlies announced yesterday that they had signed goalie Keith Petruzzelli to a two-year AHL contract.
Petruzzelli is a former Quinnipiac University (a private university located in Hamden, Connecticut) goalie. He’s 22-years-old and was the ECAC Goaltender of the Year as a senior in 2020-21. He ranked seventh in Division I hockey with a goals-against-average of 1.89 and was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award.
What’s also interesting about Petruzzelli is that he was a third-round pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft (88th overall) by the Red Wings. He was considered to be their top goalie prospect. However, his NHL rights expired on August 15 and the Maple Leafs swooped in.
By all accounts, the young goalie has a great upside and might be a great addition to the organization’s goalie needs. He’s one to keep an eye on moving into the future.
What’s Next for the Maple Leafs?
It seems interesting that Petruzzelli signed a two-year AHL contract and not for one-year. It puts him in a minor-league contract for lower money than an NHL entry-level contract. With the Marlies, he’s also in a battle with NHL veteran Michael Hutchinson and prospects Joseph Woll and Ian Scott for playing time.
From everything I’ve read about Petruzzelli, he’s a keeper. How that situation on the Marlies might work out could be interesting. It’s one worth watching as well.
The Old Prof (Jim Parsons, Sr.) taught for more than 40 years in the Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta. He’s a Canadian boy, who has two degrees from the University of Kentucky and a doctorate from the University of Texas. He is now retired on Vancouver Island, where he lives with his family. His hobbies include playing with his hockey cards and simply being a sports fan – hockey, the Toronto Raptors, and CFL football (thinks Ricky Ray personifies how a professional athlete should act).
If you wonder why he doesn’t use his real name, it’s because his son – who’s also Jim Parsons – wrote for The Hockey Writers first and asked Jim Sr. to use another name so readers wouldn’t confuse their work.
Because Jim Sr. had worked in China, he adopted the Mandarin word for teacher (老師). The first character lǎo (老) means “old,” and the second character shī (師) means “teacher.” The literal translation of lǎoshī is “old teacher.” That became his pen name. Today, other than writing for The Hockey Writers, he teaches graduate students research design at several Canadian universities.
He looks forward to sharing his insights about the Toronto Maple Leafs and about how sports engages life more fully. His Twitter address is https://twitter.com/TheOldProf