For a sport that really loves to trumpet how tough its players are, hockey players don’t seem to have much tolerance for anything that makes them feel bad in the slightest. At least on the ice. Toronto’s Morgan Rielly was the last to wet himself when an opponent reminded him too much that the Leafs had lost a game:
Did you know that Ridly Greig was breaking an unwritten rule that you can’t slap a shot into an empty goal at the end of the game? Of course you didn’t, because that would be a ridiculously stupid rule to follow. Nobody cares if you win an NBA game with a dunk. If a player can make it a 360 or a reverse jam or something interesting, all the better. Baseball players love to fill their pants with silly things, and yet no one seems to care when a pitching position player sees one of his offers rotated to Jupiter.
But no, that wouldn’t do for the Leafs and Rielly, who were Dale Hunter to Greig for his apparent crossing of a line that was only in the Leafs’ or Rielly’s heads. And if you’re wondering what kind of institutional control might be going on inside that Leafs room, here’s ol’ Sheldon Keefe, keeping the helm at the helm, telling what he thought about his only good D-man going out thence. action over the next two weeks, probably for nothing:
With two days to reflect on his comments upon realizing that Rielly will have an in-person hearing and will more than likely miss six or more games, Keefe once again had brain fluid dripping from his mouth:
Dig it up, stupid.
The Leafs have lost touch with both the Panthers and Bruins in the Northeast, and will now spend the final 30 games of the season scratching and clawing with Detroit for the final automatic spot, as well as the Wings, Islanders and whoever gets it . hot even for a wildcard spot. Which probably means that no matter how many playoff series the Leafs play, they won’t have a home field for any of them. Anyway, that hasn’t saved them in recent years.
Keefe should probably worry about the fact that his team, which is loaded with speed and scoring talent, is a mediocre team, or that his bottom six players are garbage, or that his slow defense is too passive, preventing the team from get out on the open ice as much as I should. Or that his goalkeepers are injured, unwell, or both.
But no, this is what the Leafs are worried about. There’s an obvious answer here, which is that if a team doesn’t want an opponent to add some spice to a game-clinching empty-net goal, the proper strategy is to not find yourself in a situation where the goalkeeper has to be attacked by far the worst team in the division. Don’t you want to see the other bank’s team celebrate a victory? Great, hit them. Otherwise, take the loss and shut up. But in Toronto no one accepts anything and they certainly never shut up about it. The leaves fall.