The Stanley Cup playoffs have obviously ended for the Maple Leafs, and fans and pundits alike, (including us here at The Rival Sports), have tossed around thoughts and ideas on what should be done this off-season.
The obvious discussion around the buds revolves around the oft-maligned blue line. The lone bright spot of Morgan Rielly is effectively dimmed when surrounded by the heavily criticized supporting cast. Name a defenseman, and people will have a complaint. Roman Polak? Can’t skate, too slow. Ron Hainsey? Too old, also slow. Travis Dermott? Still too young to carry meaningful minutes. Jake? Oh, Jake. Poor Jake.
As my colleague @Alex_The_Rival has already stated, the big fish out there will be Islanders Captain, John Tavares. It seems quite obvious, who wouldn’t want him in their sweater? But there are really only a few realistic chances he’ll have, for different reasons. A lot of teams just simply can’t afford him – boom, eliminated from contention. Who isn’t eliminated? Toronto.
I’m not going to go through the cap stuff, the moving parts, etc, everyone knows that. (If you don’t, know the Leafs can afford him). But one thing I’ve heard recently from an ex-player turned analyst really got me. It was such a “hockey” way of thinking about this stuff. Watching and reading more on the subject since then, it appears this isn’t a unique view.
The reason people are using to explain why John Tavares will never come to Toronto? Being 1B to Auston’s 1A.
I wonder where Malkin keeps his Scarlet ‘B’? Maybe next to his three rings? Does Kane replace his ‘A’ with a ‘B’ just to remind him he’s not the ‘C’? Do his rings care?
There was a funny moment at the All-Star game that was well-documented between Matthews and Doughty, having Auston trying to influence Drew’s next landing spot, (if it changes at all). I mean, I’d consider Drew Doughty a superstar, wouldn’t you? A Norris Trophy winning Stanley Cup champion. In that interaction, did you feel as if Matthews would feel threatened to have a top player play alongside him?
It’s becoming increasingly clear that there’s a new feeling around hockey, that players are less territorial and all they want to do is win. Of course there are still the demands for ice-time, power-play time, etc. But are you going to try and convince me the best players don’t want to play alongside the best players? I’m sorry, but that will just never fly. Unless all those rumour’s I’ve been hearing about Malkin being upset playing on the PP with Sid and Phil are true!
We’ve seen it happen in basketball, soccer, football – players actively recruiting their friends and fellow stars to their teams. Why? Because it’s fun to play with good players. It’s simple, really. Lebron started this wave with Wade/Bosh in Miami, (and again in Cleveland), Durant going to Golden State with Steph, the trio of Russ, Melo and George in OKC.
In the NFL, similar recruiting techniques have been utilized in an effort to get the best alongside.
The NHL has made a sharp turn in recent years to cater more toward a younger, more educated fan. For instance, the phasing out of fighting and focusing more on a faster, higher-scoring game. A small part of that also includes fantasy-mimicking All-Star drafts, something fans do in everyday hockey-conversation. It’s fun to imagine the best players playing together. Why? Because they’re really, really good and they produce and amazing and entertaining product.
Imagine what could happen if they actually had something to play for, like a Stanley Cup. I think they’d enjoy that opportunity very much, and more than likely put they’re ego’s up on the shelf, soon to be accompanied by some sparkly rings.