In the Nick of Time
With Monday's 3:00 pm NHL trade deadline rapidly approaching, The Masters had to take a backseat for bloggers this past weekend. The weekend was full of distractions and obstacles. After a very long weekend of birthday
celebrations, my most reliable insider called in sick on Masters' Sunday.
I didn't have the time to be suspicious or sick from the birthday aftermath. I had to stay by the horn and blog through this to maintain my blue-collar edge - while the rest of the sports world enjoys Masters' Sunday.
Around late Sunday afternoon, the action started to pick up and the insiders started playing broken telephone. Taylor Hall to the Leafs was circulating all week and I had the "Leafs Receive Hall Pass" blog ready for release. The tune of that blog was much different than this one. The first place team in the NHL doesn't need to try and fix a broken goal scorer. We need an experienced leader for a deep playoff push in spring and we got exactly that. The Buds acquired the captain of Columbus Nick Foligno 24 hours before the deadline, giving up a first-round pick and dividing Leaf Land right in half with this decision.
The stats crowd vs the eye test crowd. These two sides have been bumping heads on the internet since Moneyball hit the theaters. Rarely away from their computer screens, some vocal members of the stats crowd were first to chime in.
The Leafs are in a win-now situation and the future is irrelevant. I wouldn't be concerned over giving up a late first-round draft pick in one of the weaker draft classes when we are now the leading Stanley Cup candidate. The Raptors went all in to get a championship in 2019 and now the Buds have put all their chips on the table. That's the cost of championships.
Many former players were quick to congratulate Foligno and point out a few intangibles that can't be measured on a pie chart, silencing the statisticians.
Need to give credit where credit is due. Dubas has backpeddled on his skill-can-win philosophy and has re-branded the Toronto Micro Leafs. I thought it was impossible to win with four players hanging on to half the cap but Kyle has given us a fighting chance.
With over 30 hard-fought NHL playoff games in the last four seasons, Foligno brings exactly what the Leafs need in the nick of time. He was a driving force when Columbus eliminated the Leafs in the 2020 playoffs and had three points in five games, including the closing goal of the series. Before that, the Columbus captain led the charge in a stunning sweep to the heavily favourited Tampa Bay in 2019. But most importantly, he's got the pedigree. He's the offspring of a former Maple Leaf playoff hero, Mike Foligno. Sharing the same enthusiasm about his new team as his dad did when he took the Buds to the conference finals in 1993.
Hockey folklore says those gloves are still in the rafters at the Joe.
Nick may not wear his ol man's helmet but plans to pay tribute wearing his number. Although we won't be able to see that until his 7-day quarantine wraps up.
The best part about this trade is not receiving Taylor Hall. The Taylor Hall curse has been passed to Boston and they give the 2018 Hart winner the best chance at success. We need Foligno as much as Taylor Hall needs Boston.
The Gord Downie North Division is the most watered down division in the league. Good and bad news for the Buds. As much as I love watching the Habs lose to the Leafs for a dozen times this year, the competition lies south of the border and I'll have to contain most of my excitement for the 16 wins in summer.