A quick mix of the things we gleaned from the week of hockey, serious and less so, and rolling four lines deep. We’re stacking memories here.
1. As Brendan Shanahan’s pursuit of a new Toronto Maple Leafs general manager begins with urgency and intrigue, get ready to hear a barrage of names linked to the seat vacated by Kyle Dubas.
Shanahan’s lone clue as to the type of candidate he wants to hire? Experience.
That makes a world of sense, considering the new guy must hit the ground at full sprint, making decisions on the coaching staff, prepping for the draft and free agency, and drilling into the uncertain futures or core forwards Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander before their trade clauses kick in.
Shanahan says he’s open to all ideas, but the experience qualifier drops the Brandon Pridhams and Eric Tulskys to long-shot status.
We fully expect the Leafs to interview ex-Flames GM Brad Treliving. And as Sportsnet’s Eric Francis reports, Calgary has reconsidered blocking the executive — technically under contract through June 30 — from speaking to the opposition.
Treliving’s father, Jim, knows Leafs co-owner Larry Tanenbaum well from the business world. That could help.
Marc Bergevin has never left the game and wants back in the big chair.
If the Leafs are open to promoting from within, assistant GM Laurence Gilman may be of interest. His résumé is longer than Pridham’s.
Sources say another person of interest will be former Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman, who guided Chicago to three Stanley Cups and resigned from the organization amidst fallout from the Kyle Beach incident.
The 49-year-old has been quietly putting in work behind the scenes to restore good faith with the league. He’d like to work in the NHL again. He checks the experience box and has a history of making big trades and signing superstars.
Do not be surprised if Bowman earns consideration here.
Some bonus stray thoughts on Maple Leafs…
• Is there anyone more nervous for his job security right now than Sheldon Keefe? He was hardly given a ringing endorsement from either Dubas or Shanahan this week, has no idea who will be his next boss, and only has one season remaining on his contract.
• Keefe’s assistant, Spencer Carbery, has garnered interest in New York but is still considered the favourite for the Capitals gig.
• We’re told the idea that Dubas would take over in Pittsburgh was more smoke than fire. One source: “I think Kyle’s waiting for Ottawa.”
• Were the timing different, the Maple Leafs and Doug Armstrong may have been a match. In 2021, Armstrong signed a five-year deal with St. Louis that carries through 2025-26. He also holds the president’s tag there, so taking a pure GM role would be a step down in title.
2. Gerard Gallant wants right back in the game, under the proper circumstances.
More of a motivator than an X’s and O’s tactician, the fired New York Rangers coach will be willing to hop right back behind the bench of a team that is ready to run.
Think Calgary more than Columbus.
Hearing that Peter Laviolette — late of Washington and relaxing in Florida — is eager to get back to work as well. Although the way things unravelled with the Capitals, he may not be able to be as picky.
3. Here is your semi-annual reminder that Sidney Crosby is a national treasure. Worth a short read…
4. Yes, deputy commissioner Bill Daly said he expects to see the Arizona Coyotes skate one more season at 5,000-seat Mullett Arena.
But look at the disaster that is the 2023 Oakland A’s.
Knowing their club is leaving for Las Vegas, A’s supporters have stopped supporting.
On Monday, the A’s sold a pitiful 2,064 tickets to the Coliseum for an A’s-Diamondbacks game. (Actual butts in seats was even lower.) That’s the park’s weakest turnout since 1979.
We’d expect the NHL to look long and hard at moving the lame-duck Coyotes to a different city for 2023-24, even if it’s temporary, and avoid some embarrassing crowds at tiny Mullett Arena.
We’d also expect the NHLPA to pipe up here, as this Arizona file should be high on new union chief Marty Walsh’s to-do list.
Whether Clayton Keller’s father’s Twitter account was hacked or not, there is a strong argument that giving professionals the college treatment is an awful look.
5. Despite some backlash over the Chicago Blackhawks’ lottery win, here’s betting that Connor Bedard is the one who flips conversation around the organization to the positive.
Kyle Davidson tanked with the best of ’em (A slightly used Petr Mrazek? Yes, please!), but building around a generational superstar is a different animal. Look no further than Edmonton or Toronto for evidence of how difficult it is to complete a contending roster.
The good news is that Davidson’s cap outlook for the Bedard years is nearly a blank slate.
Not one Chicago forward or goaltender is signed beyond 2023-24. Seth Jones and Connor Murphy are the only defencemen under contract beyond next summer.
The club has draft picks and cap space aplenty.
Patience will be key. Same with finding the proper pieces to construct a core around Bedard’s prime.
Davidson may have the most exciting executive job in sports right now.
6. Trivia time.
Of all the NHL’s impending unrestricted free agents, who racked up the most points? Skated the most minutes? Registered the best plus/minus? Ripped the best points-per-game average? Secured the most wins?
If you guessed Alex Killorn (64 points), Dmitry Orlov (22:33), Tomas Tatar (plus-41), David Krejci (0.8 points per game), and Martin Jones (27), go to the head of the class.
That these players are all over the age of 30 illustrates the lack of young talent available on the free agent market this summer.
7. Dallas rookie Wyatt Johnston scored the Stars’ series-clinching goal —a Game 7 jaw-dropper — Monday, one day removed from his 20th birthday.
A feat all the more remarkable when you consider that Johnston missed his entire 2020-21 season of development in Windsor due to the OHL shutting down for the pandemic.
Sitting in a Toronto rink after an hour of sloppy old-guy shinny, I turned to my right and showed Johnston’s high school hockey coach the highlight on my phone.
The coach/teacher perked up and told me how a young Johnston carried his school to an OFSSA title.
How Joe Pavelski, 38, took the kid into his busy house rent-free.
How Johnston spends chunks of his free time playing video games with Pavelski’s eldest son, Nathan, because, heck, they’re way closer in age than the home’s two pro hockey players.
How Johnston tries to repay Pavelski by buying him dinner, but Joe refuses to let the entry-level skater pick up a tab.
Just a nice reminder of all the ripples of community pride left in the wake of these individuals who are now eight wins or less away from a Stanley Cup.
8. How much should we read into the fact that, as of this writing, the only Nylander on Sweden’s world championship roster is Alex?
Brother William would like to participate, too.
“It’s been talked about. I need to talk to Kyle and Sheldon and see where their minds [are] at,” Nylander said Monday. “But I think it would be fun to go. We’ll see what happens.”
Asset protection? One wonders.
P.S. Kinda cool to see Timothy Liljegren and Rasmus Sandin re-paired so quickly over at the IIHF tournament.
P.P.S. Team Sweden’s player-of-the-game token is a Pippi Longstocking wig?! Incredible.
9. Workhorse Brandon Montour skated about nine miles over nearly a full hour of ice time (57:56) in Florida’s 3-2 Game 1 quadruple-overtime win in Carolina Thursday — the sixth-longest hockey game in NHL history.
Montour’s workday goes down as the ninth-most ice time logged since they began tracking such things. Reports that the defenceman consumed four extra-large pizzas through an IV during intermissions remain unconfirmed.
10. Spoke to a few traveling Maple Leafs fans while covering Toronto’s series in Tampa and Sunrise and learned something new.
Toronto fans will proudly dust off their old TUCKER or CLARK or KEON or SUNDIN replica sweaters and wearing them proudly at the rink to root for the current club, perhaps as a badge of how far back their loyalty runs.
Well, more than a few Leafs fans said they would get chirped viciously by the locals in Florida for wearing old threads. Because real fans update their gear. (The eye test suggests the Panthers’ beautiful baby-blue Reverse Retros are a smash hit.)
Interesting to see the cultural differences among the fan bases.
11. With much turnover anticipated on the fringes of their lineup, the Maple Leafs could have three cap-friendly wingers on their 2023 opening-night roster who were not included on 2022’s starting roster: Matthew Knies ($925,000), Bobby McMann ($762,500), Nick Robertson ($796,667).
Even if two of them earn a role, that’s a win.
That’s in addition to goaltender Joseph Woll ($766,667), who should surely be part of the picture.
The organization remains high on prospects Fraser Minten, Alex Steeves, Roni Hirvonen, Topi Niemelä, and William Villeneuve.
Promoting more youth — provided they play well enough to stick — will be invaluable to freeing up cap dollars to build a more complete squad.
12. Wayne Gretzky is out here casually murdering the Toronto Maple Leafs in playoff season like it’s 1993: “You got guys in Toronto on milk cartons. They’re missing.”