13 Thoughts: Hard to like hockey after a weekend like this

It was not a good weekend for hockey. No way.

It all started in the shadows when Hockey Canada interim president Andrea Skinner threw in the towel. She chose to do it on a Saturday night, perhaps hoping people wouldn’t notice because they were watching the Blue Jays fall apart. (In a very similar way to the Leafs, as it turns out, we’ll talk about that later.)

The writing was likely on the wall for Skinner when the Maple Leafs assistant general manager Hayley Wickenheiser recorded last Thursday saying there was a « need » for « change » at the top of Hockey Canada. The national governing body is still clinging to what little power it has left after sponsors and provincial organizations bailed out for its mishandling of sexual assault allegations and entry fees.

Then two prominent figures in the hockey world – Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Ian Cole and Bakersfield Condors coach Chad Drown – were embroiled in sex scandals.

Cole was suspended with pay by the Lightning and defended himself publicly after being accused on Twitter to « prepare » a minor for sex. Drown is facing felony charges related to contacting a minor to commit a sex offense in California. The Condors, the Edmonton Oilers’ top farm team, fired him. He is from Waterloo, Ontario. and worked with the Guelph Storm and the Canadian Under-18 team.

And then hockey’s racial problem escalated when Toronto Sun columnist Steve Simmons shot Akim Aliu and the Hockey Diversity Alliance returned fire, directed by Leafs winger Wayne Simmonds and Aliu.

For the powers that be, this must look like a mole game. Problems arise and they try to make them disappear as quickly as possible. But the problems will not go away. There are simply too many of them that have not been meaningfully addressed for too long.

I thank Aliu and Simmonds and others from the HDA for sticking with the sport that sometimes treated them so badly along the way, trying to make it better.

But I wouldn’t blame anyone for turning their backs on hockey. For those who are going to stay – like me – let’s not ignore what’s wrong. Let’s try to fix it. And how can we appoint Wickenheiser to take over?

As always, if you have a question, email me at askkevinmcgran@gmail.com and I’ll answer it in my next Mailbag. Now let’s move on to the 13 Reflections.

1. So the Zach-Aston Reese contract for $840,630 (US) certainly looked like a salary cap figure when it was announced. In the end, Aston-Reese undersold. He could have gotten $840,634. Yes, the Leafs’ 20-man roster is $4 under the cap. Yes, only $4.

2. How weird is his cap? He’s sandwiched between 24 players at $842,500 and seven at $840,000.

3. The Leafs won’t wear « healthy » scratches for the foreseeable future.

4. If this team stays healthy when Timothy Liljegren returns, oh my god, the maneuver that will have to happen to get his $1.4 million on board. That would mean giving up two players – possibly Denis Malgin and Mark Giordano – or trading in a player with equal or higher wages. We’re looking at you, Alex Kerfoot.

5. Somehow, the Leafs didn’t lose anyone on waivers. A Thanksgiving Day Miracle.

6. Tyler Seguin will be the highest-paid player this year in terms of salary and signing bonuses at $13 million. (Its cap is $9.85 million.)

seven. The first two games of the NHL regular season have already been played. Has anyone noticed? Does that even make sense? Shouldn’t the season opener be a big deal? I play games in Europe, but they should never open the season there.

8. The Zamboni Company and the NHL have partnered with Kool Karz Playground to release the world’s first Zamboni electric ride-on toy. I can’t believe it took this long. I also can’t believe they haven’t added a vacuum function when the kids « surface » in the living room.

9. « It was 8-1 » will go down in sports history in Toronto with « It was 4-1 » in 2013, « The Leafs are three games to one ahead of the Montreal Canadiens » in 2020 and Gretzky’s 1993 high stick.

ten. It’s a different category, but the Blue Jays’ 0-7 finish to the 1987 season – they were ahead by 3½ games with seven games remaining and finished two games behind – is the worst slump in Toronto sport. from my memory. But there was the “18-wheeler coming off the cliff” in 2012, and the other 2-12-0 finish by the Leafs in 2014 when they went from third place in the Eastern Conference to miss. the playoffs. James Reimer was « just OK » if you remember. Oh, the memories.

11. Incidentally, the Leafs are 55 years old and counting since winning the Stanley Cup, the longest such streak in hockey. But they are not alone in professional sports. Cleveland Guardians/Indians are 73, Sacramento Kings 71, Detroit Lions 64, Atlanta Hawks 63, Texas Rangers 62, Minnesota Vikings 61, Cleveland Browns 58 and the Buffalo Bills at 56.

12. Don’t forget the all-time record is 108 years between championships thanks to the Chicago Cubs. So it’s time.

13. For what it’s worth, I think this is the year of the Argos.


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