A Festivus airing of Maple Leafs and NHL grievances

Photo credit:Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
Jon Steitzer
6 months ago
It’s time for the Festivus airing of grievances and as usual the Leafs and the NHL have given me a lot to work with this year. As for your airing of grievances, have at them in the comment section and if your grievance is that someone is still talking about Festivus over 20 years after Seinfeld went off the air, that’s certainly a fair start.
Anyway, onto my list…

The Hockey Canada Investigation

This is meant to be a fun(-ish) post but I feel I need to start with a serious one. As the World Juniors are fast approaching it goes without saying that a bad taste around Hockey Canada rightfully remains in my mouth as nothing has been shared as far as outcomes or repercussions for the players involved. It would be nice to see the combination of the NHL, NHLPA, Hockey Canada, and CHL treat this with some sense of urgency and importance but they all seem to be far more enthusiastic that time is allowing them to sweep this under the rug. Maybe the threat of Cale Makar not being available for Canada at the next Olympics will be a motivating factor and we’ll see this dealt with in late 2025.
I can appreciate that combination of lawyers, police, unions, leagues, and government means this was destined to be a snail’s crawl in being completed but I guess deep down I wanted to believe there was some interest in getting this done right.

The Maple Leafs official website

Shifting gears completely, let’s talk about something that really doesn’t matter and that is the Leafs website front page hasn’t been updated since the Noah Gregor signing. With Noah Gregor eligible to re-sign with the Maple Leafs as of January 1st, it is entirely possible we see another Gregor signing before we see the website updated from the last one.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are now the most valuable franchise in hockey, perhaps they got there by not paying for a webmaster.

Faceoff Stats

I’m not here to have a debate about the importance of winning faceoffs. Starting with control of the puck is always an advantage. We’ve seen beautiful set plays in the offensive zone result in goals off of faceoffs and the fact that Peter Zezel is still one of my all-time favourite Maple Leafs speaks to the fact that I can appreciate a good defensive zone win as well.
That being said, I could do without the bizarre praising of 55% faceoff winning percentages and treating 45% faceoff winning percentages like that player doesn’t stand a chance in hell of winning the draw. When I used to play a lot of roulette my system was often play black and also bet on 5(red) to have a slightly better than 50% of the wheel covered. It was certainly as ridiculous a strategy as banking on slight winning percentage differences in faceoffs.

The statement “Goaltenders are voodoo”

Can we please retire this?
I’ll admit it’s a lot quicker to write that than goaltenders are unique in that they are athletes ask to play a different role inside a game that we largely feel we understand and their talents both technical and athletic are often at the mercy of things happening in front of them. Still, I feel sometimes it’s okay to just say, “I don’t know what’s wrong with Samsonov but I hope Curtis Sanford does.”

Percentile based stat summaries

These feel like a shotgun blast of poorly represented data that lack far too much context. It’s a great way to fall in love with third pairing defencemen that know how to carry the puck and second line wingers that coaches rush off the ice as soon as their team loses possession.

The Hockey at the Olympics uncertainty

Since this is coming up again I want to make my stance on it clear because I’m tired of hearing about the NHL at the Olympics. Figure it and figure it out a couple of years ahead of time for once. The posturing is annoying as hell. Anyways, here are my simple truths about the hockey at the Olympics:
1. The NHLPA cares far too much about sending players to the Olympics. Considering how much NHL ownership have taken advantage of the players they really need to deprioritize this issue and maybe start looking at the ridiculousness of restricted free agency.
2. The NHL needs to care a lot more about going to the Olympics. There are a lot of good American players and the team has a great shot at gold. If they want to grow the game in the United States and move back up into the big four sports and leapfrog wrestling, NASCAR, and MLS, they should be begging to go to the Olympics.
3. The World Cup of Hockey is a poor substitute. As long as the NHL is running it, the tournament feels forced.
All that being said, wanting the ideal outcome for the IOC makes me feel ill too.

Mitch Marner’s hat

I’m pretty sure if Marner ditches the hat I’ll say re-sign him at any price (a lie.)

The Leafs goal song situation

I honestly don’t know what it is, if they’ve landed on a permanent one, or what’s happening anymore. For a team that gets scolded for not having an identity, it seemed like these would have been the easiest part of having an identity and they screwed it up.
There are my grievances as of December 21st before the start of the Buffalo game. Thankfully I wrote it at that point because there is a good chance this list would entirely be Leafs goaltending related. Share your grievances in the comments below.
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