Are Leafs fans crazy? Sure – and they have every reason to be

Adam Proteau
Maple Leafs fan Kyle Larkin watches Toronto lose to Nashville 9-2 Tuesday. (Steve Russell, Toronto Star )

On the most recent episode of Saturday Night Live, cast member Leslie Jones was on the Weekend Update segment of the show essentially arguing that women are crazy because they have to be in order to deal with crazy men. And I couldn’t stop thinking of that dynamic Tuesday night as I watched the outpouring of anger, frustration, confusion, and resentment from Toronto Maple Leafs fans during and after their team put in a thoroughly embarrassing effort in a 9-2 drubbing by Nashville at Air Canada Centre.

People outside of Toronto can make jokes about Leafs fans all they want – and believe you me, they want – but the truth is, if you’d lived in this city (as I have) for the past four-plus decades (as I mostly have), you’d understand why they’re beside themselves on a far-too-regular basis. If Leafs fans are crazy to keep subjecting themselves to this show of gongs – and to offer unrelenting support for a perennial disappointment year-in and year-out as they have is at the very least 1% crazy – they’ve got damned good reason to be. If you grew up having either had a small taste of the Leafs’ last Stanley Cup – or, like a growing number of Buds fans, were born after 1967 and thus had never seen a Toronto team win an NHL championship – you’d be a little sensitive to begin with. But it’s not just the volume of losing that’s made Leafs fans so tender to the touch. It’s the way the franchise has lost over the years that’s so maddening.
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Preds’ Taylor Beck scores from between his legs – and with his back to the net

Adam Proteau
Taylor Beck (Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

As a winger for the Nashville Predators, Taylor Beck doesn’t get to play close to his hometown of St. Catherines, Ont., all that often. So it must have been a thrill and then some for him to score twice and add an assist in Nashville’s 9-2 thumping of the host Toronto Maple Leafs Tuesday night. And it may have been an even bigger thrill for Beck to have scored one of those goals the way he did – with his back to the Leafs net and from between his legs.

With the Preds already up 2-0 late in the first period, Beck went to the front of the Leafs net and turned his back to goalie Jonathan Bernier to screen him; Nashville teammate Filip Forsberg‘s shot hit him in the mid-section, and the puck had barely fallen to the ice when Beck batted it through Bernier to score his second of the night: Read more

Hockey’s 10 richest contracts, in honor of Giancarlo Stanton’s monster MLB deal

Shea Weber

On Monday, Major League Baseball’s Giancarlo Stanton signed the richest contract in North American sports history. At 13-years and $325 million, the Miami Marlins outfielder stands to make more money than the average Canadian or American could earn in one hundred lifetimes.

In fact, here’s how it breaks down. Those earning the average 2014 income in Canada (USD$42,719) and USA ($51,371) would have to spend 7,608 and 6,327 years in the workforce, respectively, in order to match Stanton’s monster deal. Something tells me that might be unattainable.

There was a time – around the formation of the World Hockey Association – when Bobby Hull and the WHA’s Winnipeg Jets made waves with a $1 million dollar signing bonus. And in 1998-99, Sergei Fedorov made $14.5 million, the most ever at the time, which was more than the entire Nashville Predators roster made – combined. The days of both these contracts are long gone. These are the most lucrative contracts in the history of the NHL, all coming during the salary cap era. Read more

Playing past their prime didn’t hurt Forsberg, Modano & Hasek – & it won’t hurt Brodeur’s legacy either

Martin Brodeur (Getty Images)

When I look at the Hockey Hall of Fame’s Class of 2014, the first thing I think of is the eye-popping talent and character of the players and people. The second thing that comes to mind, oddly enough, is Martin Brodeur.

Because as the former Devils goalie floats in limbo these days, not employed by any team but not ready to say he’s retired, I hear some say he’s doing himself a disservice by not realizing what the lack of job offers is telling him, and suggest Brodeur should call a press conference as soon as possible to put his 21-season career to bed. But when you look at the careers of this year’s HHOF inductees, it becomes clear even the best of the best can’t help but play past their best due date. Guys like Red Wings icon (and 2015 lock Hall-of-Famer) Nicklas Lidstrom or Canadiens great Ken Dryden, who retire before a precipitous decline in effectiveness sets in, are the exception. The majority of the elite – including 2014 honorees Peter Forsberg and Mike Modano, and to a lesser degree, Dominik Hasek and Rob Blake – did not leave the sport at their peak. Read more

Mike Ribeiro finding his groove again with the Nashville Predators

Josh Elliott
Nashville Predators' Mike Ribeiro

Nashville Predators centerman Mike Ribeiro is hardly the center of attention on his team, and that seems to suit him just fine. The 34-year-old is quietly but consistently contributing on a line with prized Preds off-season pickup James Neal, and young team scoring leader Filip Forsberg.

For Ribeiro, the key word in that sentence is “quietly.”

He certainly wasn’t getting all the attention in the Predators’ 2-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday, but he was instrumental in helping Neal score Nashville’s first goal, and nearly had one of his own.
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Watch Nashville Predators mascot start pie fight with Oiler fans

Matt Larkin
Gnash, Nashville's mascot, returned from injury triumphantly Tuesday night.

Staged? More than you may think. Funny either way.

Gnash, the Nashville Predators mascot, is back with a vengeance. He had been sidelined since training camp after breaking his fibula while training for the upcoming season.

He made some wheelchair-bound appearances while he healed up, but he returned in full force for Tuesday’s game against Edmonton. Gnash made his presence felt by stuffing a pie in a seemingly unsuspecting Oiler fan’s face. The fan’s response? Pie it forward, baby (rimshot!). He unloads on his laughing lady friend. Check it out:

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Who’s for real – the Flames or the Predators?

Adam Proteau
Pekka Rinne and Shea Weber (Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Calgary and Nashville have some things in common: they’re the epicenters of their country’s country music scene; they’ve had Terry Crisp, Olli Jokinen and a defenseman named Suter working for their respective NHL team; and those two organizations currently are shocking the hockey world by being tied for third place in the Western Conference.

The expectations for the Flames and Predators were considerably different coming into the 2014-15 campaign: the latter made a slew of veteran additions on the ice and behind the bench in the hope of getting back into the playoffs for the first time since 2011-12, while the former was in full-on rebuild mode. But with both off to such a strong start, the natural question is: which of the two will be ahead of the other in the standings by the end of the season?

My answer: the Predators. And here’s why.

For one thing, Norris Trophy-nominated defenseman Shea Weber. For another thing, Vezina Trophy-nominated goalie Pekka Rinne. Nothing personal against Mark Giordano or Jonas Hiller, both of whom are enjoying all-star-caliber seasons for the Flames, but neither Calgary player has elevated his game to be considered among the best of the very best. Until Giordano and Hiller demonstrate consistency at that level, it’s fair to give the benefit of the doubt to the team that has the two better players on its roster. Read more

Filip Forsberg due to fall off, but Predators fans shouldn’t be worried

forsberg2

To this point in the season, there’s little arguing that Filip Forsberg has been one of most shocking stories. The centerpiece of a deal that brought Martin Erat to the Washington Capitals from the Nashville Predators, Forsberg looks to be blossoming before our very eyes.

And while he continues to produce at an alarming rate, there remains a certain skepticism about his ability to keep it up. Could the Capitals really have traded away an early Calder candidate for a player they would jettison just eight months after his arrival in the US capital? Is this a deal Washington will forever regret? Read more