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In this edition of the Maple Leafs News & Rumors, I will share what I have read and have fun with the Ottawa Public Health Council and an iconic television commercial that is now almost 30 years old.
Point One: The NHL Preliminary Lottery: Not A Game, But Rather Exciting
Last night, in the NHL Entry Draft lottery, a madman happened again when neither of the two teams with the best mathematical chances of winning the draw succeeded. The Ottawa Senators get third and fifth picks, and the Detroit Red Wings had a rotten chance and slipped to fourth. This gives a losing team 12.5% chance of picking up the first player in total.
At the start of the evening, the eight lottery “mystery” spaces had little or no chance of winning. In fact, the odds ranged from 1% to 6%. Yet a team that was not supposed to win the first draft choice did. While this is exciting, if you are a “traditionalist” in the NHL, this is probably not great news.
Of course, that will change if you are a Maple Leafs fan and your team loses to the Blue Jackets, but then gets lucky and wins the second phase of the draw with the first choice in the general classification. Does this make sense? There is more excitement on the way.
Point 2: Defensive prospect Kalle Loponen expected to play in Finland next season
Kalle Loponen, the 2019 Maple Leafs seventh round pick in the 2019 draft, will return to Finland next season to pursue his career. The 19-year-old defenseman who played for the Sudbury Wolves in the Ontario League in 2019-20 would be ready to join Karpat in Finland’s best professional league each time next season’s game begins.
Although no reason has been given for the move, from a competition perspective, it makes sense. The 5-foot-11-inch, 187-pound Loponen right-hander will take his development further by facing older and more difficult competition. He may not get as many chances as he does in the OHL, but it will go a long way to staying on the Maple Leafs radar if he plays well. It’s not like the right-hander is a penny.
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This season, Loponen has played well, especially in power play. He has a “heavy” punch, which the wolves used as a weapon. In his only playing season in Canada, he scored six goals and 18 assists in 56 games; 17 of these points were scored in power play.
Point Three: Even the government laughs at Maple Leafs fans
Maple Leafs fans are a tough group, but sometimes it seems like there is no end to the abuse. Now, an arm of government is entering the law. Last week, Ottawa Public Health had a little fun encouraging people to wear masks to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Guess who was the target of the joke?
I liked the announcement, but I’m not sure that all Maple Leafs fans enjoyed the latest joke at their expense. However, there is a wealth of research that links good sense of humor to great intelligence.
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Either way, the message from Ottawa Public Health was that wearing a mask is a way to stay healthy in times of danger. I encourage everyone to wear one to help keep the virus away. To complete your Maple Leafs jersey, I will share this link.
Point four: Wayne Gretzky and Mats Sundin in an iconic McDonald’s ad
In preparation for Super Bowl XXVII in 1993, McDonald’s marketing director Paul Schrage wanted to take advantage of Michael Jordan’s reputation as the greatest basketball player in the world. He created one of the best sports commercials of all time – a H-O-R-S-E game between Jordan and Larry Bird. It has become a classic.
The NHL’s response was to pit the Great Wayne Gretzky against the Maple Leafs captain Mats Sundin as they tried to outdo themselves by shooting puck into the net, the loser buying lunch. It has become one of the best hockey ads of all time and remains as fun today as it was then.
Gretzky then played for the New York Rangers and had just passed his idol Gordie Howe (who had scored 802 points) as an all-time NHL leader with ultimately 894 points.
In this classic McDonald’s ad, the two shoot from all over the ice and finally stadium rafters. Each time, the shots become more incredible.
What’s the next step for the Maple Leafs?
As phase 2 of the return to play plan continues and the Maple Leafs players return to Toronto, it is interesting to speculate how far the team could go with all of its training (with the exception of ‘Andreas Johnsson and for the first time this season or so) in good health. If they can get hot, they have a good chance of going far in the playoffs.
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Of course, 24 other hockey commentators have probably written the same thing for each of the other teams entering the playoffs. Like I said, it’s been a crazy season.