On the Cup, Tkachuk and Marner

Trudging the road to happy destiny – aka, the Stanley Cup finale – is taking its sweet time. Many, many steps it seems on this journey.

So, while we have a moment or two (or a day or two or six) to get set for what should be dynamite on ice, let’s have a look at the final itself and a couple of other hottish topics on the way to the big show.



And let’s stay on point with this first one. Is it too long a wait for the players, coaches and management and hockey followers in general to see the first elbow thrown in anger between Florida and Edmonton?

Hockey purists who actually enjoy frigid weather and snow and blistering cold outside rinks will argue (again and again and again) that ‘hockey wasn’t meant to be played in June (dammit!).’

Fine then, have it your way, but this corner of the page enjoys hockey 24/7. So, we’re into June. So, what?

It’s not like I must weed the garden or get going on the mulch (living in a high-rise has its benefits); it’s not as if I’m going to miss out on my now scintillating, sizzling golf game; I mean it’s not like I need to pause and rest up for the start of another impending season, right? (Maybe this is why I’m not in a relationship . . .).

On the plus side, this break sets up well for both the Oilers and Panthers. With apologies to the pro bowling tour, hockey’s chalice is the toughest one to win in professional sports.

Grind it out.

And after three rounds of bedlam and body-breaking, six or seven days off to recoup is just about right for a pair of banged-up teams. I want to see Connor McDavid and Leon and Stuart and Evan at their absolute best. Maybe even Matthew and Sam and Aleksander too.

We waited this long to get here, what’s a few extra hours to get it just right?



For the heart and soul and maybe – more importantly – to deliver broadcasting guru AJ Jakubec into his ‘happy place’ with at least one of his teams delivering for a change, we’re going Edmonton. (BTW, who gets two teams these days?).

But while dreams and wishes are lovely, the brain says the Florida Panthers win it this year. They are the Tiger 1 of hockey tanks; built for the post-season. There’s just too much balanced firepower and structure and speed and, of course, in-your-facedness to stare down.

(Funny – for a team that’s easy to dislike, this corner does a lot of pom-pom waving for Paul Maurice’s team. Perhaps this corner wishes his team was more like Paul’s. ‘Perhaps?’).



“People here have gone nuts. Man, do summers suck in here.

Reading some of these posts is worse than any losing this team has ever done”

• A common-sentiment poster on an Ottawa Senators’ chat site

Losing sucks too and Ottawa’s unfortunate fan base hasn’t had much of anything to keep its mind occupied (outside of the mulching and weeding) now for seven years.

And with losing comes disgruntlement and speculation. The most recent and rampant has Ottawa’s new management pulling an old-management-move and trading Brady Tkachuk for an unbelievable-package-that’ll-carry-the-team-to-the-Cup-add-exclamation-mark-here. One of the more wildly entertaining packages has Tkachuk to the Rangers for a grouping which includes Igor Shesterkin, Alex Lafrenière and a first rounder.

I told you: Entertaining.

I get it. You’re bored.

Bored of losing, bored of watching hated rivals do so much better than you season after season.

It gets tired quickly.

Nonetheless, here’s what’s bubbling in my brain. A Tkachuk trade does not happen this year. Period.


Knowing the level of competitiveness in the Tkachuk clan, yet another kick in the family jewels of a year (and this would make it seven playoffs missed in a row for the soon-to-be 25-year-old Brady), and the Scottsdale, Ariz., native would be looking to move on.

I go back to that disastrous western road swing in early January when Ottawa’s hope was wiped off the map with consecutive losses and Tkachuk appeared late-night on Hockey Night in Canada: After Hours.

Man, the look on this guy’s face told it all. He was done with losing and with the way the team was losing. Game after game. Year after year.

Tkachuk was defeated.

It’s imperative Ottawa turns it around starting in October (just like it was ‘imperative’ last season) for the sake of the collective sanity of the hockey base.

It’s also imperative if they hope to hold onto Tkachuk.



Speculation in Ottawa is nothing like the speculation rolling on in Toronto.

It was the unsaid promise as another failure popped up – the Fab Four was finished.

Picking through the possibilities was fairly simple. Matthews? Nope, staying. Willy? Not a chance? Tavares? Who’s got that kind of dispensable money?


Thanks Tips.

When the Buds signed Max Domi last summer, they’d found the right part to replace the ‘irreplaceable’ Marner . . . a guy who can get the puck to Auston. A free agent, Domi’s got to be at the top of Toronto’s priority list if they’re trading Marner.

Plus, if you’re heading into a playoff set, who’d you rather have – Marner or Domi?

As rapacious as the Ottawa boards are, Toronto-on-Mitch-patrol has a ton more zeal.

The best of the bunch was reading, endlessly, about the quick cup of coffee Marner and coach Craig Berube enjoyed in a west-end Toronto café earlier in the week.

Was he asking him to waive his trade clause? Was Berube asking about renting out Marner’s house when he’s gone? Was he promising him fourth-line minutes? Was he begging him to stay?

Salty stuff.

It’s never dull in the hockey mecca.



Photos: via TSN.com