The London Knights are steamrolling the competition at the Memorial Cup and Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Mitch Marner is leading the way, just as he did in the OHL playoffs. All told, the right winger has 57 points in his past 21 games (13 in three Memorial Cup wins). Add in the 116 points he had during the regular season and you’ve got a weaponized threat on the ice.
The Knights have already clinched a spot in the Memorial Cup final thanks to a 3-0 record (in which they have outscored their opponents 20-5), so with one game left on the docket for the team, it’s hard not to speculate what Marner’s future holds next season.
So let’s speculate, shall we?
Legend has it that when John Muckler was running the Long Island Ducks of the old Eastern Hockey League, he traded John Brophy six times and traded back for him seven times. Things sometimes become a little blown out of proportion when it comes to these larger-than-life legends, but that one is pretty easy to believe.
That’s because you couldn’t have made this stuff up. Brophy, who died over the weekend at the age of 83, was a true throwback. He kicked around the minors as a player for 20 seasons and with 3,848 penalty minutes to his name, is one of the most penalized players to ever play the game. He retired in 1973 at the age of 39, not because he could no longer play, but because the league he was playing in folded. As a coach, he was behind the bench for nine teams, all of them in the minors with the exception of the Toronto Maple Leafs in the NHL and the Birmingham Bulls of the WHA, winning three ECHL championships and piling up almost 900 career wins.
The hockey world is mourning the loss of John Brophy, 83, who is one of the most iconic minor league coaches in the history of the game and one of the winningest bench bosses in professional hockey history.
In a statement released Monday, the ECHL, where Brophy coached for 13 seasons, announced his passing following “a lengthy illness.”
“The entire ECHL is saddened to hear of the passing of John Brophy,” said ECHL commissioner Brian McKenna in the release. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Brophy family. There was no greater competitor than John Brophy.” Read more
Should Phil Kessel continue his personal assault on the playoffs and be named winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy as tournament MVP, fans in Toronto and Boston should feel nothing but happiness for him. Wasting their time and emotional energy lamenting what might have been would be an exercise in futility.
And that’s largely because it never would have been. You see what Kessel is doing in the playoffs with the Pittsburgh Penguins? Never would have happened in either Toronto or Boston. Fans in Boston can be thankful for what they got in return for Kessel – Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton for a while – then Jimmy Hayes and three prospects they got when they dealt the players they got for Kessel. Fans in Toronto can watch as Kasperi Kapanen and Scott Harrington try to win a Calder Trophy for their minor league team and hope the first- and third-round picks turn into something nice.
So the Toronto Marlies are off to the Eastern Conference final in the American League as the executives with the big team tap the tips of their fingers together, their plan falling perfectly into place. Mitch Marner and his London Knights made a mockery of the Ontario League playoffs, Auston Matthews is leading USA in scoring at the World Championship and defenseman Connor Carrick, acquired from the Washington Capitals for Daniel Winnik, scored a goal to take over the AHL’s playoff scoring lead.
To be sure there were smiles and backslaps all around when the Marlies defeated the Albany Devils 4-3 in a darn entertaining Game 7 to win the second-round series and earn the right to face the Hershey Bears, the child team of the Capitals.
The Toronto Marlies are generally treated as the bastard child of the Toronto Maple Leafs, an afterthought in a hockey market where fans call into talk radio and wonder why their NHL team can’t just trade for P.K. Subban, like it’s that easy, or simply snap their fingers and sign Steven Stamkos and John Tavares when they become free agents. Toronto’s AHL franchise plays in a former horse palace, albeit a wonderfully refurbished one that makes for a great viewing experience, and despite being in the AHL’s biggest city and the Center of the Hockey Universe™ where they’re in first place and the NHL team is dead last, you can always get a ticket. Sometimes you might even have to pay for it. But there’s a lot of foot room for patrons since the arena is usually only about two-thirds full.
On this day in early February, however, the Marlies have the rule of the roost. The Maple Leafs are out of town on an extended road trip, so the Marlies take over the big club’s practice facility, a four-pad rink in the west end of the city. At one point during practice, Marlies coach Sheldon Keefe breaks the team into two groups, with one traipsing over to one rink to work exclusively on skill development and the other staying behind to work on systems.
Right now, the Brandon Wheat Kings and Rouyn-Noranda Huskies are in control of their respective championships in the WHL and QMJHL, with 3-1 series leads over Seattle and Shawinigan. The Wheaties lost yesterday, the Huskies the day before.
The OHL’s London Knights, on the other hand, haven’t lost a hockey game since the first day of April.
It’s been nearly a month since the Vancouver Canucks’ season came to an end. That hasn’t stopped the local media from speculating about the club’s off-season roster plans.
The Vancouver Sun’s Ben Kuzma lists five things he believes the Canucks should and shouldn’t do this summer. Among those they should do is look into the trade status of Tampa Bay Lightning left winger Jonathan Drouin, though Kuzma expects the asking price could be the Canucks first-round pick (fifth overall) in this year’s draft plus a roster player.
He also recommends pursuing Boston Bruins right winger Loui Eriksson or the New York Islanders’ Kyle Okposo via free agency to skate on the Sedin line. That would buy time for younger players, such as Jake Virtanen, to develop. Read more