TLN Monday Mailbag: September 12th


HOCKEY’S BACK! Look, I know a lot of people think the World Cup is a cash grab, but if the exhibition games have shown us anything, it’s that these players aren’t shying away from taking the games very seriously. Besides, cash grabs are good; it’s hard to complain about the NHL finding new ways to add revenue while wondering why the cap is taking so long to shoot up again.

But enough about that, let’s open up the mailbag.

@GarrethOHL asked: Why is Patrik Laine so much better than Auston Matthews?

Matthews has been invisible to you because you’ve been watching the wrong games looking for him. He plays for Team North America, not Team USA. It’s an understandable mistake though, Garreth; some would say that it makes a hohl lot of sense that you followed the more logical, but ultimately incorrect path.

@StephenSwales17 asked: When the Leafs sweep the Stanley Cup Final this year, who lifts the cup first since we lack a captain?

First off, don’t be ridiculous. They won’t sweep it; the Leafs will have home ice and don’t want to win on the road, so they’ll throw Game 4 to make sure they can win it in 5. Now, as for the person, it has to be Brooks Laich. The man suffered through so many breaking playoff stub-runs with Washington that I’m willing to engage with this crazy fantasy and hand it to him first.

@hockeyphreak asked: Can the Leafs trade for Team North America?

That trade makes no sense, honestly. They’ve already got two of the players, Connor McDavid is 2119 days away from hitting unrestricted free agency, and everybody else should be replaced with Adam Brooks.

@LeafGuyCarlo asked: If we’re comparing Auston Matthews to a former NHLer, who would it be?

Alright, I guess we can take one or two questions seriously. I’ve said many times that Matthews’ present NHL comparable is John Tavares, so by extension, we should go to one of Tavares’ idols who shares a similar playstyle to both himself and Matthews. 

That person is Mike Modano.

Modano was a pretty big boy himself (6’3, over 200 pounds), and had stunning footwork to get himself going when he needed it. But what made him great was his 200-foot intelligence, always knowing where to be and how to support his teammates offensively and defensively. 

That’s what made him the best American player of all time, and one day, it might be what helps Matthews eclipse him. 

@nialldsmith asked: Do you think that Team North America having success would have a noticeable impact on how coaches deploy their younger players this year?

I doubt it. Most people will brush off what happened as 6 or 7 games of circumstance and not read much into it, even if every brainiac’s money is on the near-prime and trending up kids blowing the roof off of this tournament. 

As well, while some teams could use a little bit more trust in their top players, others might be intentionally keeping integration slow to keep those second and third contracts down. That’s only for the groups with established cores and no gaping holes, though; which admittedly doesn’t describe many teams.