Welcome back one and all to a new season of Maple Leafs hockey.
It’s that time of year when the leaves are changing on the trees and the Leafs are developing on the ice. Every season brings with it a new sense of hope, and this year it actually has a basis in fact and not just a wishful thinking. This new hope is as good as the movie that shares is name. Now that the hockey world is taking Toronto’s team and skill a bit more seriously, it’s time to ensure the education of the fan base so that all fans are properly representing the team and other fans. In other words, we don’t want stupid fans making the rest of us look bad, that’s what Sens fans do.
Wrap Around – very different from a reach around, never ever confuse those two. Performing one as opposed to the other during the game will get very different reactions, even if they both end up in you scoring. This is when a player scores from coming out from behind the opposing team’s net and wrapping the puck from around the back to the front in with his stick. Hard to do as the goalie will often hug the post, but if you can catch him off-guard, you can get one in…just like a reach around.
Turnover – The only good turnovers are the ones made with pastry and filled with apples and maybe a little brown sugar. Turnovers during game play is when a player loses possession of the puck over to the other team, usually by direct action such as passing to an opposing player in error or having a pass intercepted. Watching your team perform too many of these boneheaded plays may also result in the fan wanting to turn over to another channel to watch something better.
Empty Netter – When a team is losing by a goal or two in the closing minutes of a game, in an act of desperation, they will have their goalie leave the net to sit on the bench mid-play and send out a fourth forward to play in his stead. This acts as an offensive push via defensive sacrifice. It is a risk but commonly done. It is one of the funniest things to watch when the team who is leading goes to score an empty net goal, and having been made arrogant by the lack of goalie in net, actually misses the net entirely and looks like a buffoon.
Expansion Team – This is what I call my pairs of fat pants during the holiday season. The NHL is home to an expansion team this season, the first since Minnesota and Columbus joined the NHL in 2000. There are two ways to get new teams; first when a failing team moves from one city into a new city, the other is when a brand new team is created from the ground up. When a new team is created from scratch, like the Las Vegas Golden Knights of this new season, this is an expansion team. They form their initial rosters by picking one player from pre-selected pools from each of the existing teams. As they are new and have no history or pedigree, they are often subject to a lot of mockery from NHL fans, although I tip my hat to the LVGK Twitter team for making them so likeable.
Lower-Body Injury – The opposite of an upper-body injury…obviously. Teams and coaches don’t always want to let people know what injury their players are suffering from, especially their star players. The main reason is to keep opposing teams and players from being able to exploit known injuries; you wouldn’t want people going after your star player’s knee because they know he just came back from a knee injury. I believe that the entire Habs team should be categorized as all having permanent lower-body injuries because those guys are always butt-hurt about something.
The Cat, Cujo and The Eagle – While they may sound like mascots, they are in fact players. Toronto has a habit, since the 80’s of nicknaming their favourite goaltenders with animal names. Felix “The Cat” Potvin, Curtis “Cujo” Joseph and Eddie “The Eagle” Belfour were the best goalies in Toronto since the 80’s and were all fan favourites. As love for the current goaltender Frederik Andersen grows, there are many who are already following this tradition by calling him “The Great Dane”, giving his Danish heritage. Frankly I like this nickname much more than my own nickname for him, “The Ginger Danish”.
Instigator Rule – First introduced in 1992, this is a rule by which the person who instigates a fight gets assessed an extra two-minute penalty on top of the 5 minute fighting penalty given to each participant. A lot of people feel very strongly on both sides of this rule; many believe it is trying to take fighting entirely out of hockey, others believe it is to cut down on retaliatory violence and reduce injury risks. There are seldom the brawls of old in the game, and the enforcer is a job that seems to be going the way of the haberdasher and the town crier; however I do sometimes miss the old-style Domi-esque punch-ups that would sparks a team’s resolve during a bad night.
Scotty Bowman – a gentleman who looks like someone’s favourite uncle but is actually one of, if not the, best NHL coach of all time. He holds the record for most wins as a coach and has the second most Stanley Cups of any person in history. Even though he won 5 of his Cups with Montreal, there is not a Toronto fan who does not respect him, he adapted to an ever-changing league over multiple decade, always able to find ways to win. He’s known to be tough and demanding, and while some called him an ogre, I say he looks much more like a wishing troll without the hair (sorry Mister Bowman). He was rumoured to be coming to an executive job in Toronto in 2008, but was “turned down” (his words) by Richard Peddie of MLSE, as though Leafs fans needed another reason to hate Peddie.
Well that’s today’s lesson, nothing too strenuous for the start of the season. I hope you all learned something, and if not, please send your complaints to Joffrey Lupul as I’m sure he has a lot of free time these days.