During TSN’s regular segment "Insider Trading" Wednesday evening, it was relayed to us the news that the next 7 to 10 days of discussions between the NHLPA and the league will likely make or break this lockout. If some common ground doesn’t start to come together, it looks like everything could go south and we’re left looking at a potential full-season cancellation once again.
Whether it’s a few weeks, months, or the full season, there are some things I will be upset about missing. For one, hockey in general of course. But in particular, there are a few interesting stories that should be written, or at least started, about the Leafs this season.
We often joke about the lockout saving us from suffering through another Leafs campaign, but in reality there were things I really wanted to see shake out. Of course there are more, and you may prioritize a few of your own a bit differently, but I think most will agree with these three for now.
1. James van Riemsdyk as a Leaf
The move made to bring James van Riemsdyk to Toronto was an enormous one. Outside of signings, it was the biggest of the offseason league-wide. We lost our minds over it for a few days, celebrated, smashed champagne bottles, all that great stuff. But then things cooled off pretty quickly since a) nobody can party that long, b) we ran out of Luke Schenn jerseys for flame fuel, and most importantly c) lockout talk started up. What a drag.
I really want to see this guy play as soon as possible. Right away JvR plugged in to the Leafs’ top six forwards, he’s a second overall draft selection, and in the opinion of many he’s set to break out offensively with added workload. He’s a player we’ll surely hone in on for a while once he does hit the ice as a Leaf, whenever that is.
2. Goaltending, goaltending, goaltending
It’s a big question mark for the Leafs every year it seems, but this time there is (or was) going to be two wild cards.
Last season we thought everything was good to go once James Reimer opened the season strong before taking a knock to the melon, but since then things have spiraled in to a place where you could flip a coin on which of Ben Scrivens or Reimer becomes the Leafs’ starter. You could also probably flip a coin on whether either of them breaks .905 on the year.
One day I get a feeling like Scrivens is going to take over, the next I think Reimer bounces back. Start the season already and let them figure it out.
3. HBO 24/7
Yes this is more so entertainment-related but who cares.
24/7 is so much fun it’s ridiculous. Even if it was a show covering the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild I’d tune in and love every minute of it. Now when, by some stroke of luck (the good kind), the Leafs are going to be showcased, another stroke of luck (the bad kind) comes along in the form of a lockout.
It’s been fascinating watching behind-the-scenes footage of four other teams in the past two seasons. I can’t imagine how great it would be to see Carlyle blow a gasket when the Leafs are getting cooked going into the third, or to see which players turn out to become viewer favorites like Ilya Bryzgalov was a year ago (most bets are on Mikhail Grabovski).
How much milk and toast can Phil Kessel put away? We may never know.
With a fair amount of negativity surrounding the team in the past few days, it’s easy to forget there were still some things to look forward to with the Leafs. Who knows how long we’ll have to keep looking.
That’s my top three. Yours?