About a year ago, I wrote an article to vent my excitement for Avengers: Infinity War by comparing all of the Avengers to Leafs players. Having recently watched the movie again, and also passing the anniversary for the article (oh, and the Avengers: Endgame trailer being released), I decided to add another installment in the MLCU: the Maple Leafs Cinematic Universe. I’m not going to set anything else up for the sake of surprise, so without further ado, let’s start.
December 1st, 2018
St. Paul, Minnesota
The Toronto Maple Leafs entered TRIA rink, the Minnesota Wild practice facility, for a practice before their game against the Wild later that evening. But the game was far from focus for the Buds, as today was the final day that restricted free agent and teammate William Nylander could sign a contract extension before being forced to sit out for the rest of the year.
That wasn’t the only thing on the Leafs mind. After a surprise alien invasion in New York just yesterday that resulted in many casualties, including players on the New York Rangers and Islanders, and now the recently unveiled country of Wakanda is fighting off an invasion of it’s own. To the surprise of many hockey fans, commissioner Gary Bettman didn’t end up suspending the league’s schedule due to these apocalyptic times.
“Now listen up!” Mike Babcock yelled at his players, ” I realize that a lot of crazy stuff is happening right now, but I need you guys to focus up. We got an important game tonight! Ennsy’s playing his first game against his former team, and Gards is playing in his hometown, so I want everyone to play a good, smart game for them!”
“But shouldn’t we be slightly concerned with the potential threat of an alien invasion going on?” Morgan Rielly asked.
“If the commissioner says we’re playing tonight, we’re playing tonight!” Babs responded, “Now everyone, let’s work on some zone entries!”
The players lined up, defensemen on the blue line, and forwards on the opposing blue line to work on their 3-on-2s. Babcock blew his whistle and the drills commenced.
“Come on guys, chip and chase, chip and chase!” Babcock commanded, “Auston, stop skating it up the ice, I need to see those stretch passes!”
Suddenly, the Tavares line was up, it started with Marner skating the puck in before dropping it to Tavares. Anticipating a hard shot with a rebound, Hyman drove the net, but Tavares just fluttered a puck on net that Sparks easily snagged.
Babcock blew his whistle. “Johnny, what the hell was that?”
“Sorry coach, I just don’t really have that 110% in me right now,” Tavares sulked. “I lost a lot of good friends in New York, and I just can’t focus right now.”
Babcock skated over to Tavares and patted him on the back. “These are scary times, I get that. But if we live being worried that we’ll end up like them, then that isn’t really living, is it?”
Tavares cracked a slight smile.
“You’re right,” he said, “I need to get back into it, it’s what they’d want.”
“That’s what I like to here!” Babcock said enthusiastically, “Now why don’t you boys try another zone entry.”
Tavares took the puck and blasted into the zone, almost as if he had a new burst of energy in him. He dropped the puck for Marner, who toe-dragged around Zaitsev before sending it back to Tavares. Tavares had a solid shot lined up, but elected to pass it to wide open Hyman in front of the net for an easy tap in. Tavares made a quick move around Gardiner before giving Hyman a no-look pass.
Not to Tavares’ surprise, Hyman missed the easy goal, and the puck went into the corner. Babcock blew the whistle again.
“Why’d you blow the whistle?” Tavares asked in a fit of competitive rage. “The puck’s still loos-”
He turned and saw why the whistle had been blown.
Hyman wasn’t at the front of the net. He’d just vanished out of thin air.
“What the hell just happened?!” Babcock yelled, “Where did he go?”
All of the other players shrugged, unaware of what happened.
“You think this has anything to do with the alien invasion?” asked Rielly.
“Impossible,” said Babcock, “this alien stuff is nonsense. Back to practice.”
The fourth line went up for their turn. They entered the zone and did a simple passing play before Lindholm took a shot on net.
And it went in, but not because of the shot. Frederik Andersen was winced over in pain, struggling to breathe. He got up, and held out his left arm as it slowly began to turn to dust. Freddy then collapsed back to the ice, before his entire body turned to dust.
“Rielly, maybe you’re on to something,” Babcock said.
Babcock turned to see Josh Leivo beginning to disintegrate.
“Do you think we could hurry up that trade request?” Leivo asked as he vanished into dust.
Matthews let out a blood curdling scream, as he looked into horror as dust began falling from his left shoulder. He panicked in fear for his life that was about to end, but after a few moments realized it was only his shoulder that was gone.
“What the f***, this isn’t even balanced!” Matthews shouted.
Babcock looked around in terror, as player after player started slowly turn to dust. Lindholm, Kapanen, Hainsey, Marleau, Gardiner, Ozhiganov, Marincin, all vanishing before their very eyes. Babcock darted his eyes around to see which players were left.
“Wait, where’s Holl?!”
“Right here sir,” Holl said as he tapped Babcock’s shoulder, “I’ve been here the whole time.”
“Oh, I didn’t realize you were still here,” Babcock said, as he reached into his pocket. “I need to call Kyle, let him know what’s going on.”
“Well William, I’m glad we were able to come to an agreement,” said Kyle Dubas with joy. “It’s been a long few months, but I’m glad this crazy negotiation is almost over.”
“Yup, I’m pretty happy with this $6.969 million contract,” William Nylander said. “It’s a very nice contract if I may say so myself.”
“The internet’s going to love this one.”
“You’re going to wait until 4:20 to announce the deal, right?”
“Of course,” Dubas said with a smirk.
He put the final version of the contract on the table, and handed Nylander a pen, pointing to the dotted line at the bottom.
“So, if you could just sign here, and we can get you all ready to head back to Toronto-”
A ringing phone cuts off Dubas. He grabs his phone and sees the call coming from Babcock.
“What is it Mike? I’m really close to signing William and it would really be better if this waited an hour or two-”
“Kyle, you’re not going to believe what’s happening here. Half of the team, they’re gone!” Babcock frantically explained.
“They walked out? Well, tell them I’m about to sign William, and they don’t have to be mad at management over it.” Dubas said reassuringly.
“No, it’s not that. I think it’s that alien stuff going on in Wakanda right now. Hyman’s gone, Freddy’s gone, Kappy’s gone, Auston’s shoulder is gone.” Babcock said in a panic.
“Ok, that’s not good. I’ll wrap up this signing, and we’ll fly back as soon as we ca-.”
“Mr. Dubas, I don’t feel so good.”
Dubas turned to see Nylander, stumbling with every step.
“You’re alright.” Dubas said.
“I don’t know what’s happening, I don’t understand-” Nylander stopped, short of breath as he fell into Dubas’ arms, tears streaming down his face. “I don’t wanna go. I’m scared, please. I don’t wanna go. I don’t wanna go.”
Dubas set Nylander on the ground, as Nylander looked to the sky in what seemed like his last moments. He looked back at Dubas.
And Nylander faded to dust.
St. Paul, Minnesota
Babcock put down his phone, with a dead ring on the other end. He turned to see Tavares slowly beginning to fade to dust as well. But, unlike the rest of the team, there was no look of fear. It almost looked like he was welcoming his fate, that he can be with his friends again. His look of relief was glued to his face as he too faded to nothing.
“This is getting out of hand,” Babcock said. “We need back up.”
Babcock skated off the ice, and bolted to the dressing room. As he ran by, he noticed more of the staff turning to dust. Assistant coaches. Personal trainers. Equipment managers. Computer boys. All with the fame fate as half the team.
Babcock reached the coaches office, and furiously looked through his bag. He could sense it, his time was almost up. He dug deep into his bag, and finally found it.
He grabbed it, and pressed the lone button, as his hands slowly start to disappear.
The page fell to the ground, loading a message before an icon appeared on the long, narrow screen.