December 31 2016 08:43AM
If you didn’t know it, hockey is a connector okay? So like it is a connector of space and time and cities. It is ALSO how players score, by their passes connecting. Wasn’t that so clever of the narrator to use the word “connect” several times to bring us this valuable information?
Here’s the thing, if you’re reading this or have ever talked to anyone about your hobbies or interests you are very aware of what connections can be and how they can be literal or figurative. Sorry, I’m already starting of heated and we haven’t even hit the jump yet.
Here’s the recap of episode three of The Road to the Outdoor Classics and here's Auston Matthews stretching in tiny shorts. Shoutout to Auston not caring about attire and just wanting to get his work in.
Mr Narrator Man is back at, spouting platitudes like a substitute teacher who just likes to hear their own voice to remind you how incredibly valuable there are. Calm down, Dead Poets Society. We get it. You see things on a different plane that our feeble little plebian brains can’t handle but with enough of your coaching we might see a sliver of enlightenment. And perhaps by the end of today, we’ll understand how important this game with a century of history connecting to success. And we’ll be “eager for what awaits.” Ah yes like another lockout.
What are our Leafs up to? Well, Mitch Marner played cards and fell asleep a few minutes into watching Sully which means my grandparents share the same hobbies with a 19 NHL rookie.
Mitch likes a lot of ketchup on his omelette in case you wondered.
We finally got a glimpse of ref decisions in this episode! Morgan Rielly having a chat with the officials in Colorado. Actually, Morgan was pretty chill while Gabe Landeskog talked himself in a circle and was trying to work the call in his favor. Refs, it’s almost like they’re people too and have personalities. I’d rather strip away all the recaps and heroics of how every game is important and instead watch these interactions of players and officials. Also I feel very bad for Avalanche ice crew because they have to wear tiny and ugly holiday dresses with really awkward socks and still smile.
The bulk of the episode focused on Auston Matthews and the narrator noted how Auston is only the third player of Mexican descent to ever play in the NHL. I think this is important to note as well since a lot of people (myself included) thought Auston was just another white boy in the league. And it is important to remind people his role in the NHL means something and is vital to the next generation.
The show pointed out how Auston grew up in Arizona - a place where we shouldn’t expect to find hockey. At this juncture that narrative isn’t needed. This isn’t a hot take. This isn’t new. This is about a frozen Hot Pocket. Yeah, there’s hockey in a lot of places you wouldn’t expect and they all mean different things to their community and are ultimately fostering a great atmosphere for kids and showing that you can do something outside of the geographical norm.
Aside: just look at how incredibly full and long Auston’s eyelashes are! He can’t possibly need all those. Oh and if you aren’t paying attention, Auston looks like Dylan O’Brien. Three of you will care about that detail.
It’s clear Auston has a fantastic family who supports him and is proud of his Phoenix debut. Coach Babcock took the time to remind the team how important this homecoming is to Auston. Babs didn’t want the team to phone it in or complain about the travel. “We’re gonna f*cken go balls to the wall,” Babcock told the locker room in a perfectly beleaguered parent sort of way. You could almost hear the veiled threat that paralleled “you better not ruin your brother’s birthday or I’m going to cancel all major holidays for you for the next five years.”
And to drive home the weight, importance and connections: we see Auston Matthews taking a faceoff again Shane Doan. Doan has been with the Coyotes basically since Auston was born. We wrap the Leafs segment by watching Auston hug his family and pose for pictures with his grandparents who are impressed with his fancy suit.
Auston heads out on the ice with Max Domi to take a picture with the kiddos of the local hockey team and everyone is all smiles. I can only hope that future NHL rosters will see so many new faces and not just the typical one we have now. I hope by then we’ve stopped being disparaging toward “non-traditional markets” and accept the fact these markets are made of different kinds of people extending beyond the idea of the great white north. The sport can talk all it wants about it being open and accepting but those words are hollow until we truly have more players from different walks of life lacing up skates together and who feel comfortable and free to be themselves. Hockey isn't for everyone until we no longer have to make a point of what players like Auston mean in the history.
Next we have the game ahead of us! From the crew here at TLN - thanks for making 2016 so great for us! We appreciate all the tweets and shares that expand our connections and reach. The Leafs like to say it’s the passion that unites us all and we have this fantastic space because of all of you wanting to talk about what you love. Here’s to smashing 2017!