No Longer the Cat’s Meow

There are a few things popping into mind as the NHL post-season winds closer to a close (it’s close, right?) . . . and here is my assembly line of thoughts.

So long DeBrincat:

Seems inevitable that Alex DeBrincat’s stay in Ottawa will rank as a short one. The restricted free agent never appeared to embrace the Senator crest and it certainly looks like he’ll be wearing a different one come the start of the 2023-34 season.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported late Monday that DeBrincat and Ottawa are on the outs: “. . . the team is considering all options, everything from taking him to arbitration (or) to a trade.”

Leaving the Ottawa region will definitely not be a boon for lazy headline writers. Think of it: no more “Cat’s on the Prowl,” or “Alex has Nine Lives!”

(Please do me a favour and scroll right on past the headline adorning the top of this page).

Also, loving the chat boards currently lighting up with DeBrincat trade options: “Yeah man, DeBrincat, Scott Sabourin, Patrick Brown and Mathieu Joseph for, let’s see here, Roman Josi and Juuse Saros!”

Can’t beat the logic.

Criticizing Florida’s methodology:

Man-oh-man I wanted to grab the remote and mute TV colour-voice Craig Simpson about half-a-dozen times Monday night.

At every opportunity, Simpson – who’s usually quite astute – railed against the Panthers and their over-exuberance/reliance in/on the physicality and nastiness departments. I get it. It’s been a tad over-cooked in the opening two games of the final.

But do remember, the Panthers got to where they are thanks in large part to that style. Just ask the Maple Leafs, and in a somewhat lesser sense – the Bruins and Hurricanes.

As well in this final, Florida’s gunslinger attempt at justice was really only out of hand when the opening two games were out of hand.

Go with what brung you to the dance, I say. I don’t expect the crashing, banging and face-washing to be reduced.

Maybe, just maybe, Vegas is simply a different animal, and this is becoming a mismatch on so many levels. Not much you can do about that. As Prop Joe from The Wire offered – “Look the part, be the part!”

A Stone’s throw from Lord Stanley:

(Look, another industrious headline . . . Gotta excel at something, my dad would say).

So how you feeling about this, Ottawa Fan?

I mean, look at it this way: Chara left, Alfredsson left, Karlsson left and Stone left. Some by trade, others by free agency. They all wanted out. Safe to say Ottawa’s track record on keeping franchise players hasn’t been stellar.

Now Mark Stone is just a two-shot away from a championship.

Could it have been in Ottawa if he’d chosen to sign long-term here?

Would have been interesting to watch a team with Stone and Nick Paul and perhaps Karlsson (although the return for King Erik was grand) as well as the Brady Tkachuks of the world engage.

THOUGHT, SEEN AND HEARD: More on Mark Stone’s trade out of Ottawa – hailed correctly as a steal – was scripted this week by The Athletic’s Pierre Lebrun. Mind you, it’s a paid subscription service . . . Yup, The Athletic: hockey journalism’s answer to Amway . . . Some folks shy away from the heat of the media spotlight, but not if your name is Paul Maurice . . . In the mid-1980s, Maurice skated for the OHL’s Windsor (Compuware) Spitfires. One of his teammates? Peter DeBoer . . . Another – Adam Graves, one of my favourite NHLers . . . Wouldn’t a few ‘Adam Graves’ be just what the Leafs need? . . . Oh, never mind . . . Some things I don’t quite get. Eric Staal still taking a regular shift is one of them . . . Marc Staal’s not far behind . . . How can you not be happy for Michael Amadio? The former OHL 50-goal scorer with North Bay (2015-16) was shown the door by both the Senators and Leafs before being rescued in Vegas. He has eight points so far in these playoffs . . . Good value or great value: Cole Caufield signs for eight years at an average annual value of $7.85 million US. We over here project – great value . . . So then, Kyle Dubas is now president of hockey operations in Pittsburgh. What exactly does a president of hockey operations do? Lots of overseeing and development and managing, so pretty well anything he wants.

SWINGS AND KNOCKS AND BLUE JAY THOUGHTS: There was a time, a recent time, when the belief was that the Toronto Blue Jays had a trio of stupendous, can’t-miss prospects in Vladdy Guerrero, Bo Bichette and (yup) Cavan Biggio. Two-out-of-three isn’t bad, eh? . . . No idea what happened with Biggio. Maybe mismanaged? Under-played? Under-developed by the organization? He seemed to have all the tools . . . Alek Manoah might want to move his locker away from Biggio’s, too. Or stop eating what Cavan’s eating . . . Good to see Nate Pearson finally coming around. Cautiously optimistic over here . . . Matt Chapman’s come back to being Matt Chapman. Not necessarily a bad thing, especially with the mitt . . . Remembering (fondly) the days of the complete game? Not so much anymore. As Postmedia’s Steve Simmons writes on Kevin Gausman’s exceptional start this season: “Gausman has one complete game in his career, none in the past nine seasons.” . . . The greatest Jays’ pitcher in history – Dave Stieb – posted 103 complete games in his career. Yowzah . . . ‘Hustlin’ Irish Jim Clancy had 73, while the late Roy Halladay went the full nine innings 49 times as a Jay . . . Nice to see Toronto employing more of an assertive attack on the basepaths in 2023. Whit Merrifield, who’s been nothing short of terrific, leads the team in stolen bases with 16 . . . The former Postmedia News editor in me kicks in often (sometimes, too often). One that always gets me is when broadcasters/writers refer to the Rays as playing in “Tampa Bay.” If they did, better have their bathing suits at the ready.