Maple Leafs’ Zach Hyman Is Not Driven by Money

Earlier this week, TSN’s Pierre LeBrun was interviewed on Insider Trading and spoke about Zach Hyman’s value on the open market. After the winger’s recent knee injury, LeBrun noted that the reaction he saw from Maple Leafs’ fans inspired him to ask “half a dozen NHL front office executives from other teams the simple question: ‘What do you see as Zach Hyman’s value on the open market or in a new contract?’”

It’s a logical question. The responses LeBrun received varied from $4.5 million a year to $5.5 million a year. LeBrun noted that these were based on player comparables of “signings we’ve had here since the pandemic.”

Related: Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Matthews, Galchenyuk & Hyman for Selke

LeBrun placed Montreal Canadiens’ Brendan Gallagher atop the list at $6.5 million a year. Like Hyman, Gallagher is also 28 years of age – facts that LeBrun knew Hyman’s agent Todd Reynolds would definitely introduce into a contract conversation at the appropriate time.

Zach Hyman, Morgan Rielly, Mitch Marner, John Tavares
Toronto Maple Leafs’ Zach Hyman, Morgan Rielly, Mitch Marner, and John Tavares (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh)

LeBrun’s bottom line is that, “if Hyman wants to remain with the Leafs where the cap is tight, the number is going to have to start with a four. I think if he hits the open market, the number starts with a five.” 

Type Three Research Errors

As a brief aside, many readers can guess from my pen name that I actually am an old professor. If you wonder why I don’t use my real name, it’s because my son – who’s also Jim Parsons – wrote for The Hockey Writers first and, when I started, he wisely asked me to use another name so readers wouldn’t confuse our work.

Because I had worked in China, I 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 my pen name. Today, other than writing for The Hockey Writers, I teach graduate students research design at several Canadian universities.

In research, there are a number of different research errors. Readers have come to know the first two research errors well because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The first research error is “a false positive” – the test says you have COVID-19, but happily you don’t. The second research error is a false negative – the test says you don’t have COVID-19, but sadly you do.

Related: Maple Leafs & Jets Exchange Fighting Words

But there are also type III errors. A type III error happens when a researcher gets the right answer to the wrong question. Applying the concept of a type III error to the question of how much it will cost the Maple Leafs to sign Hyman, a type III research error would apply the logic that hockey players will sign the contract that pays them the most money. The problem with using this logic is that Hyman isn’t driven by money.

Why Do I Believe Hyman Is Not Driven by Money?

In Hyman’s case, I believe there are two key questions Maple Leafs’ fans should ask: (a) “Who is Zach Hyman?” and (b) “What drives Zach Hyman?”

First, Reviewing Hyman’s Youth and University Experiences

Zachary Martin Hyman was born in Toronto, on June 9, 1992. He’s Jewish, comes from a large family, and attended the United Synagogue Day School and finished high school at the Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto. He graduated with honors. Hyman’s father Stuart is the owner of the Markham Royals, a Junior A hockey team out of Markham.

Toronto Maple Leafs Zach Hyman
Toronto Maple Leafs left wing Zach Hyman (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn)

Hyman graduated as a history major from the University of Michigan, where he played hockey. He was named AHCA First Team All-American and to the All-Big Ten First team. He was chosen as the Most Valuable Player by the SB (Sports Blog) Nation College Hockey Big Ten Media. He was awarded the Big Ten Distinguished Scholar Award twice and the Big Ten All-Academic selection twice. His grade point average (GPA) was 3.7. In in 2015, the Athletic Department at the University of Michigan named Hyman the Michigan Athlete of the year.

Second, Reviewing Hyman’s Work as an Author?

As many Maple Leafs’ fans know, (Zachary) Hyman has written three children’s books. In order of publication, these include The Bambino and Me (published in 2014 when Hyman was 21 years old and attending the University of Michigan). Hockey Hero (2015, Hyman’s first written but second published book; he was 22). The Magician’s Secret (Hyman’s third book was published in 2018, when he was 25).

(1) The Bambino and Me (short summary)

The Bambino and Me is about a youngster (George) in 1927 who meets his hero New York Yankee slugger Babe Ruth. But George’s relative has given him a Boston Red Sox uniform that his mother makes him wear to the game. At George’s first baseball game ever, he’s wearing a Red Sox uniform! Although he carries Babe Ruth’s baseball card in his pocket, everyone knows he’s a traitor. (The Bambino and Me, Zachary Hyman, Zachary Pullen (Illustrator), Jason Alexander (Reader), Tundra, 2014).

After the game, George meets Babe Ruth and they talk. Ruth gives George an autographed baseball, his jersey, and this life lesson:

“Listen, kid. Don’t let the fear of striking out hold you back. I swing big, with everything I’ve got. I hit big or I miss big. Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.”

He (Ruth) straightened back up and gave me a wink. “If you try hard enough, you’re bound to come out on top!”

[Lesson: It’s hard to beat a person that never gives up.] (As an aside, the book came with a CD read by Jason Alexander, who played George on the TV show Seinfeld.)

(2) Hockey Hero (short summary)

Hockey Hero is the story of a shy youngster (Tommy) who dreams about being a star hockey player but plays in his older brother’s shadow. Tommy’s grandfather, who played for and won the Stanley Cup with the Detroit Red Wings, teaches Tommy to play pond hockey. (Hockey Hero, Zachary Hyman, Zachary Pullen (Illustrator), Tundra, 2015).

As they play hockey together, Tommy hears stories about how Maurice Richard, Bobby Orr, and Gordie Howe all became great stars. Later, during the championship game, when the team is short of players the coach asks Tommy if he’ll play. Tommy does, with great success.

His grandfather tells Tommy: “Tell you what, kid—you score, and they’ll never forget you! You’ll be a real-life legend!”

[Lesson: In hockey, whether you win or lose, you rise to the challenge.]

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(3) The Magician’s Secret (short summary)

Although The Magician’s Secret isn’t a sports book, it’s become a best seller. It tells about the adventures of a youngster (Charlie) who listens to his grandfather’s stories that emerge from his Magic Story Chest. (The Magician’s Secret, Zachary Hyman, Joe Bluhm (Illustrator), Tundra, 2018).

Charlie’s grandfather was a magician, but his magician’s secret was how he did his tricks. Grandpa kept a Magic Story Chest in the attic that contained many objects – each one carried Charlie into his grandfather’s adventures: an hourglass from King Tut’s tomb or a white scarf from the Red Baron.

For example, “Oh, this isn’t just any old rock, Charlie. This is the philosopher’s stone – it can do magical things. It looks like any other old rock on the ground. The philosopher’s stone is everywhere – in every field and under every tree.

Grandpa pulled me close. But to be able to see it, you have to believe it.”

When Charlie’s father says his grandfather’s stories are make-believe, Grandfather answers: “You know the trouble with grown-ups, Charlie? They don’t have faith in make-believe anymore. And that’s too bad, because when you use your imagination, you can turn a dream into something real.”

[Lesson: If you believe in your dreams, you can make them come true. In hockey, whether you win or lose, you should engage your dreams.]

What Can We Learn About Hyman?

After studying Hyman’s children’s books and the lessons he’s teaching in them, I have a better sense of who Hyman is and what drives him. Here’s what Maple Leafs’ fans can know about Hyman.

First, he’s from Toronto and he’s tight with his family. He’s probably wanted to wear a Maple Leafs jersey since he was a kid. His books were inspired by his grandfathers’ stories to him and his brothers.

Second, he’s an intelligent, hard-working young man. You can’t get a 3.7 GPA without really hard work. You can’t dig out pucks in the corners without really hard work.

Third, he’s driven by at least three things: (a) loyalty (wearing a Red Sox jersey to a Yankee’s game – yikes); (b) legacy (he wants to become great and be remembered); and, (c) his dreams (he dares to believe and is willing to follow his dreams).

The Maple Leafs haven’t won a Stanley Cup in 54 seasons. You have to know Hyman believes they can. You have to know he’s driven to make that happen. You also have to know that he wants to be part of Maple Leafs’ history.

I Can’t Know What Hyman’s Contract Numbers Will Be

I can’t guess what numbers will be on Hyman’s new Maple Leafs’ contract; however, I’m convinced Hyman isn’t chasing money. He’s driven by becoming someone others can look up to – like Babe Ruth or his grandfather who’s encouraged him to dream.

Related: Zach Hyman: Toronto Maple Leafs’ Top-Six Winger and Children’s Author

I also can’t imagine Maple Leafs’ general manager Kyle Dubas underpaying a core member of his team. And, make no mistake, Hyman is a core member of this franchise.