NIAGARA FALLS — The polarizing and troublesome negotiation with William Nylander is just the start of prolonged contract enterprise for Maple Leafs normal supervisor Kyle Dubas.
The start of a most fascinating and complex season.
There’s Nylander to signal and what’s clear after two days of coaching camp is that the Leafs have nobody like him to play with Auston Matthews. That’s the stress level from a hockey aspect for the membership, however not from a monetary aspect the place the Leafs proceed to face agency. They and the Nylander camp are to this point aside that it isn’t mistaken to imagine that, if Nylander doesn’t capitulate on the cash he’s asking for, the Leafs will seemingly open the season with out him.
After Nylander is taken care of for this season and the long run, there are all types of contractual landmines that Dubas should work his method by. Defenceman Jake Gardiner is developing on free company. Dubas has to resolve whether or not he needs to keep up Gardiner and at what value: What he can’t do is lose him for nothing, the way in which he (and the earlier administration) misplaced James van Riemsdyk for nothing.
Additionally they have restricted free brokers approaching, primarily with Matthews and Mitch Marner, but additionally with Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson and Josh Leivo. And Ron Hainsey, like Gardiner, is up without cost company on the finish of the season, additionally.
Dubas’ plate is stacked excessive and with a season of some sort of celebration anticipated, the topic of contract negotiation may dominate Maple Leafs speak.
THIS AND THAT
I’d have given a letter to Matthews, fairly than the Leafs placing him within the uncomfortable place of getting to clarify why a man who needs to put on the ‘C’ wasn’t given an ‘A.’ Subsequent season, it says right here, the ‘A’ wearers — Morgan Rielly, Patrick Marleau and John Tavares — will proceed with their A’s, Matthews will get the ‘C’ for captain … The Nylander camp is asking for a minimum of 30% greater than the Leafs appear prepared to pay. That’s what you name a considerable distinction between ask and provide … If two days of coaching camp imply something, Kapanen must be skating alongside Matthews in Nylander’s spot as an alternative of the fairly hopeful Tyler Ennis. His pace has stood out in camp, simply as Johnsson’s pace has been spectacular …. An up-close commentary: Tavares is bodily smaller than I keep in mind him being … I do know there are solely 31 normal supervisor jobs within the NHL and it’s an unattainable job to get. Plus, I like and respect Pierre Dorion but when I have been him, there could be 30 groups with normal managers and one tousled staff out there for one … In 2007, the Montreal Canadiens used their first three draft picks to pick Ryan McDonagh, Max Pacioretty and P.Ok. Subban, all of them spectacular sufficient to have letters on their jerseys, all now gone with the return for the three considerably inconsequential … Statistics can’t measure what Henrik Zetterberg did for the Detroit Crimson Wings. They’re solely a part of the bundle. A participant like Zetterberg, getting 18 minutes an evening, was 16 minutes of a clinic on methods to play with out the puck. There have been few gamers smarter than him in his time within the NHL. He’s in my Corridor of Fame, each single day … Daniel Nestor got here to fame in Canada enjoying Davis Cup in Vancouver. Appears solely becoming he goes out enjoying Davis Cup. My favorite Nestor second: The gold-medal doubles win in Sydney in 2000.
HEAR AND THERE
Noticed the Grant Fuhr documentary, Making Coco, the opposite night time. In the event you get an opportunity, I’d advise you see it, too. It’s actual and it’s emotional and it’s troubling and it’s worthwhile … Don’t perceive the NHL, half 2789: Will probably be authorized to smoke marijuana in Canada subsequent month. The NHL will proceed to check for what’s about to be leisure substance … The most effective motive I do know to not commerce Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman: Are you able to essentially belief who could be doing the buying and selling? However it’s a must to marvel: What would both carry within the open market that may improve the Blue Jays roster? … The beginning rotation subsequent 12 months could possibly be Sanchez, Stroman and Ryan Borucki, after which who? … Nice choice: The Lester Patrick Award being offered posthumously to Jim Johannsson, for thus a few years the glue that made American hockey occur … Each time I try to take NHL coaching camps severely, I consider the years when Dan Labraaten and Mike Craig have been the very best gamers in camps I coated. After which the season began … The Blue Jays can brag this season concerning the growth of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., the Jap League championship it received and that they really received a recreation whereas strolling simply as soon as and placing out 20 occasions … The oldest gamers within the NHL: Matt Cullen, 41; Zdeno Chara, 41; Roberto Luongo, 39; Joe Thornton, 39; Marleau, 39 immediately … The favored narrative: Leafs aren’t ok on defence. An alternate narrative: with Travis Dermott, Calle Rosen, Andreas Borgman, Justin Holl, Rasmus Dahlin, Sean Durzi, Timothy Liljegren and Igor Ozghiganov, they’ve encouraging depth on defence. If two or three of the eight are gamers, that makes the group that a lot stronger.
SCENE AND HEARD
I’m in awe of James Duthie, Chris Cuthbert, Ray Ferraro and Ryan Rishaug. Good work from Humboldt on essentially the most troublesome of broadcasts … Former Raptors GM Glen Grunwald is the brand new head of Basketball Canada. Essentially the most important factor he may accomplish on the job is discovering a technique to by some means persuade the very best of Canada’s younger stars to surrender some private time and play collectively when it issues most for the nation … Simply since you labored for Invoice Belichick doesn’t make you Invoice Belichick. The mixed document of Belichick assistants who went on to change into head coaches within the NFL, a fairly awful 156-227 … Marner has bulked up a little bit, as a lot as he can bulk up. He not appears fully like anyone’s youthful brother … The one time you’ll see sellouts in Ottawa this season: Leafs video games … Identical could also be true for Detroit house video games … Wasn’t stunned that Steve Yzerman determined to go house and take a break from the Tampa Bay Lightning. It’s by no means labored notably properly for obsessives: Working in a single metropolis, household in one other metropolis. If Ken Holland winds up working the Seattle enlargement franchise within the NHL, search for Yzerman to wind up again with the Crimson Wings once more … The Leafs not should take care of Karlsson within the East or in opposition to the Leaf-killer, Pacioretty. Or in opposition to Tavares for that matter … I at all times figured Julien Brisebois was Montreal’s Plan B if it needed to fireplace Marc Bergevin as normal supervisor. Now what’s Plan B, Patrick Roy?
AND ANOTHING THING
My least favorite soccer staff: The New Orleans Saints … My second least favorite soccer staff: the Saints … The Leafs don’t have any scarcity of leaders except for these carrying letters: Matthews, Zach Hyman, Connor Brown or Hainsey may simply have a one thing on their jersey … Superb to see the hockey followers lined up exterior the Gale Centre right here, all to observe training-camp scrimmages. The one spot to check this to within the NHL: Vegas of all locations … With Karlsson in San Jose, I now determine the Sharks, Nashville Predators and Winnipeg Jets are certain issues to make the playoffs within the West. The race for the ultimate 5 playoff spots, and that features an improved Las Vegas roster with Pacioretty, goes to be intense … Dumbest query on opening day of Leafs camp, earlier than the primary apply. “How’s the staff coming collectively to this point?” I actually want one of many gamers who was requested the query would have answered: “We haven’t even skated but, you fool!” … Matthews, all of a sudden humorous, was requested if he has any private objectives for the approaching season. He answered: “Yeah, they’re private.” When requested Saturday if he would say the Leafs expectations have been excessive, he stated the Leafs expectations have been excessive … They knocked down the previous Kronk Health club in Detroit. It’s the place I first met Emanuel Steward and first watched Thomas Hearns spar. It was a spot the place boxing felt and regarded like boxing … Completely happy birthday to Tim Raines (59), Braden Holtby (29), Robin Yount (63), Elgin Baylor (84), Orel Hershiser (60) and Eric Vail (65) … And hey, no matter grew to become of Olli Jokinen?
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ZAITSEV LOOKING FOR OLD COMFORT ZONE
The participant with nearly essentially the most to show at Leafs camp: third 12 months defenceman Nikita Zaitsev.
Two seasons again, as a rookie, Zaitsev got here to Toronto and performed greater than admirably. He regarded like an NHL defenceman, a keeper, a steal or kinds in free company.
Then Yr 2 got here and he obtained damage blocking a shot and misplaced his confidence and mainly by no means discovered his method after that. If he decided, typically it was the mistaken one. That’s commonplace for younger defencemen, having a setback after having some success.
Nevertheless it turns into all of the more difficult as a result of he’s partnered with the unpredictable Jake Gardiner, so all types of miscues have been taking place and Gardiner is hardly the mentoring sort and Zaitsev wanted somebody to point out him the way in which.
Now comes Yr three. We just about know what to anticipate from a lot of the Leafs veteran gamers. They’re who they’re. Zaitsev is the curiosity for me.
Can he be that rising defenceman he was in his rookie season that earned him a long-term contract? That defenceman who was so strong on the world championships final spring? Can he be sensible and powerful and efficient — fairly than uncomfortable — and if he could be that method, how a lot better does that make the Leafs?
JAYS SHOULD PLAY THEIR CARDS RIGHT
If Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins need to mannequin the Blue Jays after something, why not the St. Louis Cardinals?
The Cardinals are in a race to get to the post-season, once more. Ought to they make, it could be the 13th time for the reason that Blue Jays final received the World Collection in 1993. Over these 25 yards, the Cardinals have been within the playoffs mainly each second season.
And who is aware of when the Jays will subsequent be within the playoffs?
Whereas the tear down seems to be fashionable in baseball immediately, particularly after Collection wins by the Houston Astros, Chicago Cubs and Kansas Metropolis Royals, the Cardinals appear to remain aggressive, 12 months after 12 months, hardly ever bottoming out, commonly producing gamers, by no means ranging from scratch.
That is the sixth straight season wherein the Jays payroll exceeded that of the Cardinals — however one other with little to point out for the output. You need to admire what the Cardinals handle, 12 months in 12 months out, even when they miss out on a wild card this season.
JUMPING THE GUN ON ROGERS MEMO
If I’ve discovered something from all of the years doing this, it’s that regardless of how clearly you write one thing, how clearly you categorical an thought, regardless of how apparent it could to be you, somebody misinterprets the message or the tone of it. And so it was when Rogers Sportsnet president Scott Moore despatched a memo to employees not too long ago, as he commonly does.
The memo was seemingly innocent, if not a little bit on the cheerleader aspect. However that’s not what I used to be instructed about it from numerous Rogers employees members, a few of whom have been involved that Moore was teaching them to deal with the Blue Jays entrance workplace with child gloves. Taking their view of the memo and asking among the most credible folks I do know at Sportsnet about it, I wrote an merchandise in final week’s column questioning why Moore would try this and questioning concerning the editorial freedom of those that report on the Jays at Sportsnet.
Then I noticed the memo. And I noticed nothing it in in any respect that drove protection or opinion in anybody path.
Whereas I could quibble with Moore evaluating Auston Matthews and the present state of the Maple Leafs to the rebuild the Blue Jays are starting with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. there was nothing within the word to employees that I believed, in any method, influenced the path of protection.
Apologies to the nice folks at Rogers — a lot of whom are associates and colleagues — and to the president Moore, whose phrases have been misinterpreted right here.