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February 11, 2015

NHL must do whatever it takes to get phenom Connor McDavid to Leafs

NHL Notebook
021115_connormcdavid_AB Aaron Bell/OHL Image

Connor McDavid of the Erie Otters.

The National Hockey League should hire Bill Belichick to run this year’s draft lottery and make sure he figures out a way to have the Toronto Maple Leafs get the first draft pick. By hook or by crook, by secret video or deflated ping pong balls – whatever it takes -- Belichick would be given orders to make sure the Leafs get Connor McDavid.

Somehow, he would get it done. He would get everybody to do their job, or at least look the other way at an appropriate time --- and we would all be better off for it because the Maple Leafs need Connor McDavid, and the NHL needs Connor McDavid in Toronto.

With all due respect to Buffalo, Carolina and Phoenix, it would be a waste to have McDavid start and pursue his career in those cities. And no apologies are required for Edmonton, a franchise that should be outright banned from another chance at the top pick on the general principal that they would find a way to make it fail.

Let Carolina, Buffalo or Phoenix have a chance at the American can’t miss prospect, Jack Eichel, or Noah Hanifin. It says here that both Maple Leafs need McDavid north of the border --- the blue Maple Leaf of Toronto, and the red Maple Leaf of the Dominion would be better served with McDavid in Toronto – and so would the NHL.

Everything we have read about McDavid, and every indication from his actions both on and off the ice indicate that he would have the mental toughness to deal with the calliope music and amusement park motif that surrounds the Maple Leafs franchise.

McDavid’s addition would put an end to the disgusting habit of throwing sweaters on the ice, and the woe-is-me fan base that has struggled without a Stanley Cup since just after the Beatles released Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Whatever it takes, some how, some way, deep down in places that we don’t dare want to admit exist – even the hockey fans in Montreal -- we all know that the world of hockey would be better if Connor McDavid lands in Toronto

Let it Be.


The Flyers, who probably think they are owed a miracle in the lottery since they lost Patrick Kane to Chicago in 2007, are getting more and more likely to wind up near the bottom of the pack as their goaltending situation worsens.

There is a good chance that Steve Mason is done for the season because of knee surgery, and backup Ray Emery isn’t likely to carry the team on his back to a playoff run. The more logical scenario is a trade deadline yard sale that includes three veteran defensemen – Braydon Coburn, Nicklas Grossmann, and perhaps Kimmo Timonen.

Timonen is one of the most highly regarded players in the NHL, and his expected last hurrah will begin in the very near future as he returns from his battle against blood clots.  When cleared to play and up to speed, it is only logical that if the Flyers aren’t in the playoff hunt by the end of the month, Timonen will end his NHL career as a valuable addition for a Cup contender.

And if that day comes, the Flyers should be more than willing to let him have that final shot to get his name on the Cup with little in return.


Now that Marty Brodeur has retired can we get rid of that silly trapezoid behind the net? The game was better when goalies would venture out and risk horrible mistakes with the puck.


Shockingly, NBC will not carry the upcoming World Cup of Hockey. It seems they were outbid by ESPN, and that should tell you something about the value of that tourney in the United States.

If the whole think wasn’t doomed to be enough of a dud in the United States, the fact that it’s been further devalued by the concept of an “Under 23 “ North American team and a mongrel team made up of wandering Europeans should have been enough to warn NBC away from the product.

At some point, the NHL should focus on making the Stanley Cup playoffs and finals the crown jewel of the sport, and not international competitions or outdoor games.


When you consider who should be NHL Coach of the Year, this one stat should be at the top of your mind: Alex Ovechkin came into this week as a +12 player. Last year he was a minus infinity (actually -35) , so from this vantage point, Barry Trotz is the leader for the job he’s doing with Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals.

Then again, after watching how much better Mike Yeo coached when Devan Dubnyk arrived as a savior in Minnesota’s net, you have to wonder if Coach of the Year isn’t just a sidecar award to the most valuable goaltenders.

As the legendary Keith Jones once told one of those team-building psychologists when asked about building team chemistry: ‘If you want good chemistry, get a good goalie.”

That is all.