As I start my second week on the job as the managing editor of TLN, I felt it was important to bring back one of the staples of the blogging community, the mail bag. Well, we won’t be calling it the mail bag anymore, because there isn’t a physical bag and I don’t want to start this relationship off by lying to you. We’re going with mail call, and you can expect to see it again with some regularity on this site with different writers responding, not just my ass. We’re also going to try and branch out to themes so you can ask some of our experts about the subject matter they know best. Since I know nothing, we’ve gone a completely random mess of questions for you today.
Realistically, does our fan base go high and low too often? Do other fan bases dip and fly with every stretch run of good/poor play?
— Jordan Turtle (@jorTurtle) March 8, 2020
Let’s start off with the fact that seeking the highs and reacting to the lows are some of the best parts of sports fandom. The rational middle where you seek repeatable results and a steady satisfaction from expected results is damned boring. I’m all about the roller coaster and the Leafs have been exactly that this year.
Now, this does seem to be a less fun roller coaster than other years because the expectations were set incredibly high. Remember, this team was going to be a cup contender and was going to challenge the Lightning for the Atlantic Division title and possibly the Presidents Trophy. This team was 100% going to make it past the first round of the playoffs otherwise the year was a complete failure. Now we’re looking at just making the playoffs as a victory, and if the Leafs get bounced in the first round, too many people are going to say, “we were just lucky to make it.”
I’ve gone off on a bit of a tangent, but I’ll double back around to no, embrace the ride, as it keeps it interesting. It seems that other fan bases are just as prone to this as Toronto and Philadelphia might be the best example, as they were extremely critical to start the year, but are riding a nice little high right now. Looking game to game, the Canucks and Oilers fans seem like good examples, as after a loss a hear an awful lot about Tyler Myers, and ditto for the Oilers with whatever goaltender was in net for the loss. Every team does it, but there are so many more Leafs fans than any other groups, the volume is always turned up to 11.
Can I be on your podcast, since I’m banned from my own websites?
— Adam (@ElSeldo) March 8, 2020
Over at TLN, we’d never do you dirty like that. It’s just a matter of us getting a podcast up and running on this site again, and that’s definitely one of the things high on my to-do list. My hope is that we will regularly have our non-host writers as guests, as well as bring in interesting voices from around Leafs land, and this certainly will include your Niagara Ice Dog takes.
I should add, that if anyone is interested in doing the heavy lifting on a podcast for the site, and has experience hosting and editing, please reach out to me on twitter @fatssundin or email me at puckcontent (at) gmail dot com.
Is the Bilal meme the best meme of all time?
— Billi_Chilli (@Billy_chilly) March 8, 2020
By life standards, I’m old. By internet standards, I’m old as shit. So for my money no meme will ever top the cat saying “I can has cheezburger”.
Perhaps we can combine them into one great meme that will last through the ages…
Back to important questions…
From the past week or two, what have you seen from Dermott’s play? Is he playing way over his head or has he acclimated better to playing against top comp?
— :/ (@riceandbananas1) March 9, 2020
The numbers might tell a different story, as he’s still be a bit in over his head, but my takeaway from Dermott is that he can handle the competition that comes with being a top four defenseman, and I don’t hate him on the ice against the top offensive units of the opposition.
A big part of this comes from the fact that Justin Holl keeps him honest, and there’s also the fact that alternatives were playing Martin Marincin, Calle Rosen, or a very green Rasmus Sandin. There are plenty of excuses/reasons that we could say Dermott didn’t get the job done, but in fact, the Leafs shutout their opposition twice in the past seven games and that’s something to be said for improved team defense.
You can probably point to the Kings game as a throwaway about not getting the offense, but the other shutout was against Pittsburgh, and that’s something the entire team should be proud of, especially the depleted blue line.
Dermott has been a big part of what is going right, but he can equally be a big part of what goes wrong for the Leafs, if he can find that consistency and realizes he’s better off building out his defensive game rather than his offensive game, he’ll be a solid #4 defenseman, rather than a #4 defenseman by default.
somebody order extra Swedish meatballs ?
— JEXUAL (@Jexxual) March 9, 2020
I’m not aware of the concept of “extra” when it comes to Swedish meatballs. They are the elite meatball and all other meatballs pale in comparison. The Leafs are just another example of the eliteness of Sweden, and how adding more Swedish content can only be a good thing. Right now the Marlies/Prospect pipeline is extremely limited on the Swedish front, so I hope Kyle Dubas is the one who ordered extra Swedish meatballs.
Let’s get the obvious part of this out the way, and acknowledge that the Leafs boy band begins and ends with William Nylander. Not only for his strong Euro-Pop combined with Nick Carter vibes, but for all the things that he is that transcends the limitations of the boy band model.
I’m going to stick to the steadfast rule there should be five members of the boy band. I’m a bit of a NKOTB purist, as they were the first concert I ever attended. So let’s look at some of the rules surrounding boy bands, and we’ll populate this group…
In addition to beautiful face of the group (Nylander) there will need to be a bad boy, and perhaps no one fits the boy band bad boy criteria more than Kasperi Kapanen, so he’s in.
There should be the goofy, little brother type, that seems like he’s just there to make sure the boys are having fun, and that’s Mitch Marner defined.
Someone in the group needs to have actual music talent, and as far as I can tell, the Leaf that best fits that criteria is Tyson Barrie.
And finally because he seems to touch slightly on a lot of the criteria of the other members, I’m going to say Travis Dermott is also in.
I just wish they played in sync.
I’m not sure I like serious questions as much as questions about boy bands, but I’ll do my best with this without coming off too ridiculous.
One paper, the Leafs are one of the best teams in the league. They’ve got high end talent, and a very capable supporting cast, and a goaltender who on his good days can win games on his own. Unfortunately, we can’t always look at talent and how players do on their best day, and instead we have to look at the fact that this team is made up of a collection of different personalities.
Some of these guys are enjoying being young, rich, and famous. That’s cool. Good for them, they should enjoy it and I’m not going to scold them for that.
Some of these guys are new Dads. I know what this one is like, it’s awesome, but it means that sometimes your head is someplace more important than your job. I’m not going to scold them for that either.
Others have life changing contract decisions to make in a few months, others have stuff going on that we don’t even know about. Throw into the mix that this team has dealt with a major coaching change, numerous injuries, a pressure cooker of a market, and I’m reluctant to say that just because they are all in situation many of us would kill to be in, doesn’t mean they have it easy.
On their best day, this is a team that can truly compete for a cup, but they seem to be struggling to find their best days, and might need some help stabilizing themselves.
Right now, I don’t like their chances to do much in the playoffs, and I think frame of mind has something to do with it.
Thanks to everyone who asked questions this week. You’re the real heroes.