Leafs Nation are a passionate bunch! We wear our hearts on our sleeves and aren’t afraid to fight to make a point so it’s always an exciting time when a new trade rumor, free agent signing, or other Toronto Maple Leafs news hits the web. Every week, I’ll break down what’s “in the news” and give you my perspective. You know what they say about opinions- everybody has one, some just stink more than others! This is how I see it… in my VIEW FROM THE BLUES!
A Dream Come True For Hyman…
June 19 was just another Friday for most Leafs fans. Most of us got up, went to work, came home before finally getting our weekend started. The 2015 NHL Entry draft was only a week away and our excitement was coming to a boiling point. For one Leafs fan, that day went from ordinary to life-changing with just one phone call. In the blink of an eye, 23-year old Florida Panthers prospect Zach Hyman fulfilled a lifelong dream- he was now a Toronto Maple Leaf.
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) June 20, 2015
The trade was an absolute heist with the price being only 23-year old forward Greg McKegg who didn’t figure into any of the team’s long-term plans. Five days later, the club signed Hyman to a 2-year entry-level contract voiding the conditional pick they would have received had they not been able to come to terms. So who exactly is Zach Hyman and why should we be excited about him? A list of his accomplishments include:
- 2011 Canadian Junior Hockey League Player of the Year
- 2013-14 University of Michigan Junior Athlete of the Year
- 2014-15 University of Michigan Athlete of the Year
- 2014-15 Hobey Baker Finalist
- 2014-15 Big Ten First Team All-Star
- 2014-15 First Team All-American
- 2014-15 Academic All-American
- 2014-15 Big Ten Scoring Champion
- 2014-15 Big Ten Media MVP
He also set a Big Ten scoring record this past season when he scored 22 goals and 32 assists for 54 points in just 37 games while playing on a line with Red Wings prospect Dylan Larkin. Hyman spent 4 years at the University of Michigan playing for coach Gordon “Red” Berenson, a veteran of 987 NHL games playing with the Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, Detroit Red Wings, and St. Louis Blues. He also coached in the NHL for three seasons winning the Jack Adams Award as Coach of the Year in the 1980-81 season. Berenson taught Hyman to be a complete player by easing him into a top six role with the Wolverines.
An interesting sidenote is the relationship between Berenson and new Leaf head coach Mike Babcock. The two have been friends for about 10 years beginning when Babcock took the job as coach of the Red Wings. In a 2009 interview with The Ann Arbor News, Babcock had some strong words about his friendship with Red.
“When I talk to Red, things just make sense to me. I don’t know what I offer him, if anything. The first thing is, we have a friendship. We’re two guys who love the outdoors and love hockey. He’s a man I have a ton of respect for, and love being around.” (Mike Babcock -2009)
Bottom line- Babcock knows what he’s getting when it comes to Zach Hyman. This is a man who loves information so there is absolutely no reason to believe that he wouldn’t get the full scouting report from his good friend Red. He was also a regular visitor at Michigan games last year to watch Wings prospect Dylan Larkin so he also has some scouting notes of his own.
With a veteran core of forwards upfront for the Toronto Maple Leafs next season it seems that jobs will be scarce in the first year of the rebuild. Hyman will have to go into training camp and make a bold statement to the coaching staff. However, Mike Babcock has mentioned several times that he “likes skilled players.” Hyman obviously has the skill and as much as the Leafs have said that they won’t rush their prospects, players like Hyman are different. At 6’1 and 205 pounds, he has NHL size and was named NSCA All-American Strength and Conditioning Athlete of the Year in 2015. In the end, it will be Zach himself that decides his own fate next month at training camp.
One of my fondest memories from this summer was the time I spent at the Leafs’ Prospects Camp in Collingwood, Ontario. It was there that I met a man who is a huge part of Zach Hyman’s life. He stood just to my right in Central Park Arena during the on-ice portion of the camp. I struck up a conversation and learned that his name was Stu and he was in fact the father of Zach Hyman. We spent close to 90 minutes together that day just talking hockey. Here’s the recorded portion of that chat…
Stu will join me on a future edition of the Blue N’ White Tonight Podcast. I’ll keep you posted!
Leafs Hub’s Exclusive Access To Marner…
As the 2015-16 season approaches, Leafs’ prospect Mitchell Marner is hard at work preparing for his first NHL training camp. Marner skated in Ajax last week along with London Knights teammate Christian Dvorak and Leafs Hub was allowed exclusive access.
“Mitch’s skating and edge work were off the charts,” said Corey Connolly, Social Media Director at Leafs Hub. “The first few times I saw him make cuts I was in disbelief. Combination of skating, excellent hands and pass receiving, and hard work were on display for two solid training sessions. Was truly an honour to witness live.”
What’s next for young Mitch? He’ll play in the Leafs’ Annual Rookie Tournament at Budweiser Gardens in London from September 11-13. The tournament will be a “homecoming” of sorts for him as he makes his first return to his junior home since being taken by the Leafs in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. It will also be the first time that the Leafs Top 3 prospects (Marner, William Nylander, and Kasperi Kapanen) will appear on the ice together. Kapanen and Nylander skated in the “senior” group at the Collingwood Prospects Camp while Marner was with the younger group. Watch for an exclusive inside look at Marner’s training coming soon right here at Leafs Hub.
— Jude17 (@JudeMac_17) August 24, 2015
Showing The Maritimes Some Love…
The Leafs announced that they will be starting their training camp in Halifax, Nova Scotia from Sept 18-20. The announcement comes only a month after the Toronto Marlies announced that they would play a three-game exhibition series in St. John’s, Newfoundland against the St. John’s Ice Caps. AHL hockey is returning to Newfoundland next season as the Hamilton Bulldogs have relocated to St. John’s. The Leafs’ AHL affiliate spent 14 years in St. Johns before moving to the Ricoh Coliseum in 2005.
Santorelli Almost A Leaf Again…
According to Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun, the Leafs had offered a contract extension to Mike Santorelli back in December but the 30-year old forward declined.
In Dec I was told Leafs made 3 yr offer to Santorelli. Last night another source said it was 2 yr offer. He signed for a lot less with Ducks — steve simmons (@simmonssteve) August 18, 2015
Last week, Santorelli signed with the Anaheim Ducks leaving some Leafs fans thinking “why not us?” This a classic case of a player making himself look better than he really is by playing in the right situation. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed and appreciated Santorelli’s work ethic but stuff like that seems to stand out a lot more on a lazy and unlikeable team like the 2014-15 Leafs!
As much as I like players like Santorelli or Daniel Winnik, it’s important that we see these players for what they really are. Bottom-six guys who work hard but don’t belong anywhere near the top-six on good teams. A look at the Leafs roster next season will show a bunch of those players once again. Guys who are on short-term, low-money contracts that will get the opportunity to play more here in Toronto. Winnik, P.A Parenteau, Matt Hunwick, Nick Spaling, Mark Arcobello, and Shawn Matthias are all perfect additions to teams seeking playoff depth but don’t have much cap space. Hopefully, the Leafs can once again cash in at next year’s trade deadline to add even more picks to the cupboard.
The Blue N’ White Tonight Podcast Debut Episode…
The debut episode of the highly anticipated Blue N’ White Tonight Podcast was recorded this past Sunday afternoon as we take a look at “The Shanaplan” and the Leafs’ complete organizational teardown! Some interesting “sponsors” have jumped onboard and can be heard during the breaks between “periods.”
So, without further ado, the debut episode of the Blue N’ White Tonight Podcast!
If you’ve been following us on social media, then you’ll already know about our BNWT Mystery Leaf Contest. Listen for your three clues in the debut episode to reveal his identity. Remember to write each Mystery Leaf down in order. You’ll need them all for a chance to win this beautiful framed print commemorating the 1993 season featuring Wendel Clark and Doug Gilmour.
The “Mystery Man”
At least once a day, the mysterious stranger leaves a picture in our email. He appears to be “mocking us” in some of them but it’s pretty clear that he’s a Toronto Maple Leafs fan so he can’t be all that bad. Is he a fan? A former player? Tune in to the debut episode to see if we finally uncover the identity of the man who is taking the social media world by storm! (okay, maybe that was just a tinge dramatic.)
So what’s on the docket for next week? Well, this Sunday we will be recording our “Young Marlies Special” when we have a very special guest joining us to take a look at the most anticipated season ever for the Leafs’ AHL affiliate. The special guest will be revealed in this week’s episode!
Twitter: We are sitting at well over 300 followers at the moment. Give us a follow @BNWT_Podcast
Facebook: The Official Facebook Group is less than two weeks old but we are closing in on 200 members already. Check it out!
YouTube: The YouTube Channel is up and running. There’s some great interviews with Leafs prospects Casey Bailey, Travis Dermott, Stephen Desrocher, and Andrew Nielsen and will be adding more content as we move forward with the show.
SoundCloud: This is where we will be posting the show every Tuesday.
Leafs Hub Android App…
Have you downloaded the Official Leafs Hub Android App as of yet? What are you waiting for? Unless you’re an Iphone user like me, you really have no excuse.
If I could get all the great Leafs Hub content right at my fingertips I would be all over it! Do yourself a favour and get it today at the Google App Store!
Tweet Of The Week…
This week’s “tweet of the week” is actually a retweet but we’ll leave the title the way it is. Last Monday, an amazingly well done column called Welcome To The Jungle was published here at Leafs Hub. It was written by Jude MacDonald and outlined the Leafs’ new management structure, comparing it to that of a lion’s den. It didn’t take long for the word to get out and the piece even drew attention from the Toronto Maple Leafs themselves.
It is a very rare occasion when the official twitter account of the Toronto Maple Leafs takes the time to recognize the work of a writer and site that they are not affiliated with so this was “kind of a big deal.” If that wasn’t enough, a member of the Leafs front office also sent some credit Leafs Hub’s way.
As independant writers, we work very hard to bring you great Leafs content on a regular basis and it’s a huge deal when those efforts are recognized. Every retweet on Twitter and share on Facebook means so much. Thank you!
Please send all comments, opinions, and hate mail to: email@example.com or hit me up on Twitter: @robb_ellis.
See you in September… FROM THE BLUES!!!