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SIMMONS SUNDAY: Maple Leafs pay Marner big bucks, time for him to earn them

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Mitch Marner is the second highest-paid winger within the Nationwide Hockey League and with that comes an inherent set of duties.

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He doesn’t need to be the nicest man on earth or the friendliest and even essentially the most quotable: None of that basically issues huge image.

What he needs to be is productive — that’s why the Leafs paid a lot for him on the eve of coaching camp in 2019. More cash than Patrick Kane. More cash than Alex Ovechkin. More cash than Nikita Kucherov.

The expertise is certainly there. That’s why he was voted first all-star staff final June. That’s why he’s a candidate for Canada’s Olympic staff. The Leafs paid for what he had already performed within the NHL and for what he’s anticipated to do sooner or later.

Heading into Saturday evening’s sport towards what’s left of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Marner had not scored in Toronto’s first 5 video games, all however certainly one of them towards groups that weren’t within the playoffs final 12 months. Greater than that, although, he had not dazzled the way in which he can dazzle, danced the way in which he can dance.

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In his earlier 5 seasons, he’s by no means opened a marketing campaign with out scoring within the first 5 video games. The season earlier than he signed his big contact, he started with 10 factors within the opening 5 video games.

There is no such thing as a doubt Marner will get better from his playoff disappearance towards Montreal and the sluggish begin to this season and discover his place. However there’s additionally little question that the struggles of the Montreal sequence have lingered with him by this disappointing early season.

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A former coach on Nick Ritchie: “This child hurts my coronary heart.” … A scout on Ritchie: “Nobody ought to be stunned. That is how he performs.” … What the Maple Leafs lack by 5 regular-season video games, an id. Who’re they? What are they? What are they going to be? … Wasn’t the hiring of assistant coach Spencer Carbery supposed to repair their energy play? Two of their three power-play objectives heading into Saturday evening have been scored by Jason Spezza and Pierre Engvall, two-thirds of Toronto’s fourth line … Engvall is greater and quicker than virtually everybody he performs towards: Do you assume he is aware of that? … Zach Hyman has displayed his versatility and success within the early season in Edmonton. He’s scored three power-play objectives for the Oilers, all assisted by Connor McDavid, one shorthanded objective, and one even-strength objective assisted by McDavid. That’s 5 objectives, which by late Friday evening was greater than Auston Matthews, Marner, William Nylander, and John Tavares — The $40 Million 4 — have mixed to handle. However then once more, none of them get to play with McDavid, who already has 13 factors in 5 video games. That’s a really early 213-point tempo. Very early … What a pleasant addition 38-year-old Duncan Keith has been to the Oilers defence … Younger Rasmus Sandin is giving coach Sheldon Keefe each cause to maneuver him up in Toronto’s defensive rotation … The Raptors couldn’t have performed two extra completely different video games to start out the season. The opener, trying fully misplaced. Recreation 2, a coming-out social gathering of kinds for the endearing energetic rookie Scottie Barnes … Russia can have Andrei Vasilevskiy, Igor Shesterkin, and presumably Sergei Bobrovsky in objective for the Winter Olympics. The U.S. can have Connor Hellebuyck or John Gibson. And if Carey Value is unable to play, Group Canada will doubtless have a shell-shocked Marc-Andre Fleury or Jordan Binnington in web. Gulp.

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In the midst of the well-known Joe Carter at-bat, 28 years in the past Saturday, we had been speaking within the press field. Me, then colleague Mike Zeisberger, the late Jay Greenberg, the late Joe Falls, pontificating how Carter by no means obtained successful when it issues. We had been sitting within the soccer press field down the left-field line. Within the midst of our dialogue, the ball flew previous us, over the left-field fence, the SkyDome went wild … The distinction between Mike Sullivan and Jon Cooper: Sullivan gained two Stanley Cups in Pittsburgh with out an Vasilevskiy in objective and with out a Victor Hedman on defence. Sullivan and Cooper are the 2 greatest coaches in hockey at the moment … Not far behind: Barry Trotz, Bruce Cassidy, and Joel Quenneville …

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There are 18 Canadians on NBA rosters to start out the season and 25 Canadians presently on NFL rosters and follow squads … What Patrick Mahomes may use, together with a defence who can cease any individual, is a wholesome Laurent Duvernay-Tardif on his offensive line. The injured physician has but to play a sport this season with the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs… Sure, COVID-19 has modified nearly every thing, which suggests there are extra tickets out there for professional sporting occasions than there’s ever been earlier than. Was once subsequent to unattainable to search out Leafs tickets: Now, it’s the place do you need to sit? … It should kill the Miami Dolphins that they handed on Justin Herbert and drafted Tua Tagovailoa as a substitute. Herbert might be a Corridor of Famer someday. Which jogs my memory of those that handed on Mahomes … Each Canadian skilled sports activities staff ought to discover a manner to herald Mary Nahwegahbow to do the nationwide anthem at the very least as soon as, perhaps extra. She sings O Canada in one-third English, one-third French, and one-third Ojibwe, relatively brilliantly.

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Wayne Gretzky is off to a robust begin along with his panel work on TNT. He might not have the TV persona and supply down pat but however content-wise he’s doing greater than superb. In discussing the loss of life of former participant Jimmy Hayes, who was discovered with cocaine and fentanyl in his system, Gretzky stated: “This isn’t only a hockey downside. This can be a downside in society…That is greater than hockey or sports activities.” Greater than 10,000 Canadians have died previously two years of opioid associated overdoses. A few of them are your brothers or sisters, your uncles or aunts, your youngsters. Method greater and sadder than only a hockey downside …  You notice how little some Individuals find out about hockey when Gretzky went on the NBA post-game set with Charles Barkley and Shaq O’Neal and neither of those world-class athletes knew maintain a hockey stick and the place to place their palms … In the event you switched Charlie Montoyo and Alex Cora at supervisor my perception is the Blue Jays would have been within the playoffs and the Pink Sox would have been residence watching … Cora’s greatest low season gaffe: Having an excessive amount of religion in Chris Sale, who made three post-season begins and lasted all of 9 innings … One pitch modified the complete Pink Sox sequence with Houston. A missed name on a 3rd strike. From that second on, the Pink Sox had been performed … Has anybody ever hit a quieter three residence runs in a playoff sport than Chris Taylor did for the Dodgers. I can nonetheless see and listen to Reggie Jackson’s three residence runs and George Brett’s three post-season homers. These had been lifetime recollections. In components of eight huge league seasons, although, Taylor has solely hit 79 homers … Taylor, by the way in which, is a free agent and may be a attainable substitute if the Jays can’t retain Marcus Semien, who might be closely pursued within the low season.

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Tony LaRussa believes managers Dusty Baker, Cito Gaston and Tom Kelly, two of whom with two World Collection titles, all belong within the Baseball Corridor of Fame. Baker has now been to the World Collection managing an American League staff and a Nationwide League staff … Pau Gasol is on the highest 75 gamers of all-time checklist simply introduced by the NBA. Unsure how. Not on the checklist: A disbelieving Klay Thompson, a most likely harm Vince Carter, his cousin Tracy McGrady and a well-deserving Bob Lanier. I’d take all 4 forward of Gasol … Comfortable to see Bob McAdoo acknowledged, although. On the age of 23, McAdoo led the NBA in scoring, averaging 34.5 factors a sport with the Buffalo/generally Toronto Braves. And there was no three-point scoring in these days. He was the primary basketball participant this 17-year-old ever cared about … Don’t know what’s extra compelling, Succession on Sunday nights or the Rogers Household enterprise, Monday to Friday … Sixteen video games into his NHL profession, the now-injured Ottawa rookie Shane Pinto already seems like a keeper. He’s the sort of participant you construct your future round … How lengthy earlier than Jeremy Colliton is let go as coach of the Chicago Blackhawks? He’s my greatest wager to be the primary coach fired within the NHL this season … What a particular merchandise — getting former President Barack Obama to pay tribute to Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser on the twentieth anniversary of Pardon the Interruption. It left the at all times speaking Wilbon and Kornheiser momentarily speechless on ESPN … This isn’t the way it’s speculated to work: Toronto FC has the second-highest payroll in MLS and the second-worst file. The Reds are 18 factors behind the Vancouver Whitecaps, the bottom spending staff in MLS … I don’t perceive the obsession with shot makes an attempt in hockey. It’s like getting excited over incomplete passes in soccer. We virtually completed one thing. To form of quote Gretzky, one hundred pc of all shot makes an attempt taken don’t rating … One other beef: Hockey announcers who’ve to say each time what number of photographs on objective there have been on an influence play. energy play controls the play. A foul one scrambles round. The variety of photographs isn’t at all times related. Scoring likelihood is on this case … Comfortable birthday to Drake (35), Harold Snepsts (67), Jim Peplinski (61), Nick Bosa (24), Rafael Devers (25), Al Leiter (56), Chris Colabello (38), Jay Novacek (59), Ron Gardenhire (64) Wayne Rooney (36), Jaylen Brown (25), and Justin Medlock … And hey, no matter turned of Shea Hillenbrand?

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LEAFS WON’T WIN MANY WITH HUTCHINSON IN NET

It isn’t Michael Hutchinson’s fault that he isn’t ok to play within the NHL.

He’s, as they are saying, what he’s.

A minor league goaltender of some high quality — and there’s no crime in that. He’s merely not proficient sufficient to be an NHL distinction maker. And the very fact he’s put in objective for the Maple Leafs at this stage in time is a condemnation of two issues: 1) Leaf administration’s incapacity to enhance the positional depth; 2) Leafs historic unwillingness to draft and develop goaltenders.

Because the Leafs chosen James Reimer within the fourth spherical of the 2006 NHL draft, some 15 years, they haven’t had any success in growing a netminder. Over that point, they’ve drafted seven completely different goalies. All these mixed have performed 38 video games for the franchise, 36 of these performed by the relatively bizarre Garret Sparks.

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Of the goaltenders presently employed by the Leafs exterior the NHL, not one is taken into account a prospect of serious prominence. Everyone seems to be a piece in progress.

They had been lucky actually that Jack Campbell went from no person to any individual relatively rapidly in Toronto, which gave them an choice in objective, initially supposed to again up Frederik Andersen. Now they’ve veteran Petr Mrazek as a second goaltender, which he has been for lots of his profession. It’s a good pairing when each are wholesome and performing.

When certainly one of them is gone and Hutchinson is compelled to play, the Leafs incapacity to handle this vital difficulty turns into tough to understand.

ISIAH THOMAS WAS AHEAD OF HIS TIME

The Raptors discuss lots today about taking part in positionless basketball prefer it’s a model new idea.

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The idea isn’t new nor, in actual fact, is the method of the staff. When Isiah Thomas drafted Marcus Camby with the second choose within the 1996 NBA Draft, Thomas envisioned the 6-foot-11 Camby to be the sort of participant who may serve a number of positions on the identical evening.

Thomas talked manner again when about taking the common 1-2-3-4-5 positions in basketball and making them superfluous due to the person athleticism of the gamers on the roster. Like most issues throughout Thomas’ artistic and harmful time with the Raptors, his imaginative and prescient by no means fairly materialized. However what you see, trying again, are so a lot of Isiah’s concepts nonetheless related all these years later.

Camby didn’t final all that lengthy as a Raptor and in the long run neither did Thomas, who drafted Damon Stoudamire and Tracy McGrady as nicely throughout his brief time in Canada.

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The present Raptors roster, complicated because it has been with out Pascal Siakam by two video games, one horrible opening evening and one stunning victory in Boston, has lots of interchangeable components — not essentially conventional within the common method to taking part in positions. However in equity, gamers comparable to LeBron James and Magic Johnson, may begin the sport as a degree guard, transfer to energy ahead after which centre, with out ever actually altering positions in any respect.

Whether or not Nick Nurse can discover a manner to make use of Siakam, OG Anunoby, Scottie Barnes and others equally, whereas having them play high quality defence, is the upcoming take a look at for this season. The idea Isiah Thomas talked about 25 years in the past continues to be value exploring at the moment.

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