Today’s thought:

We’ve heard endless talk about the importance of Mike Babcock instilling the structure, culture and work ethic required to compete with a chance to win on a nightly basis. What maybe doesn’t get mentioned enough amid the talk of rebuilding, development, draft picks and tanking is that it’s important the fruits of the team’s labour actually bear out in terms of some positives results and occasional hot streaks. Babcock’s reputation and credibility goes a long way with players, no doubt, but, like anything in life, seeing is believing.

In addition to the progress of young assets like Morgan Rielly or Nazem Kadri, we’re starting to see some of the Leafs‘ stopgap veterans produce and we’re starting to see a few of their older core members, whose asset value was seemingly depreciating sharply as the year went along last season, benefit from competitive hockey under Babcock. Enough of the narrative that winning is counterproductive.

Onto the links.

Leafs Links:

  • Mark Rackham: Leipsic the OT hero as Marlies edge Amerks (MLHS)
    William Nylander’s assist was his 20th point of the season, and by virtue of having played one less game than Joe Witney (Bridgeport Sound Tigers), the Marlies forward leads the league in scoring.
  • Jonas Siegel: Babcock, management divide leaves Corrado in limbo (
    “It’s not that we don’t like him … [but] we’re in the winning business so we try to do the best thing to give our team the chance to win. That’s no indication of how he’s played or what he’s done, it’s none of those things. Now what we’ve done is we’ve put him in a bad spot because he hasn’t played in a long time.”
  • Stephen Burtch: How the young Maple Leafs are providing optimism (Sportsnet)
    Further, Kadri is playing top-line minutes on one of the top 10 possession lines in the NHL with 26-year-old James Van Riemsdyk and irritating defensive forward Leo Komarov.
  • Scott Wheeler: Leafs should encourage Nylander and Kapanen to play in World Juniors (PPP)
    This year, both are suiting up for the Marlies in their final year of WJC-eligibility. And while there is a case to be made that the two soon-to-be 20-year-olds are over-ripe for the WJCs, there are good reasons they should both be given their last chance at a U20 gold medal.
    My take over in the PPP comments below. Keep in mind Nylander could well be the most dangerous player on the Leafs if he were called up tomorrow.
    Screenshot 2015-11-19 18.38.06
  • Jonas Siegel: Hockey fun again for Lupul after turbulent season (
    “I feel like sometimes in the past couple years it felt like I kind of had the weight of the world on me,” Lupul said this week. “It was like every time we’d lose or I wouldn’t play well, I’d get injured, stuff would really affect me in my personal life, too.”
  • Mark Masters: Reimer credits team for slowing down the Avs (TSN Video)
    Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer credits the team for slowing down the Avalanche, breaks down a couple of his bigger saves, and talks about his improved rebound control.
  • MLHS: Keefe on Nylander: “He’s among the scoring leaders, among much older, more experienced players — that speaks to the talent level” (Transcript)
    “The finer details of the game in particular, stuff without the puck, there’s room for growth. He’s still adjusting to playing center for the first time in North America and the responsibilities that come with being away from the puck and being strong positionally, and managing the puck and managing your shift; things like that.”
  • Rob Longley: Surging Leafs getting into playoffs conversation (Toronto Sun) 
    “The positive thing for us is we seem to be getting better as a group. It’s way easier to play when you think you have an opportunity. For me, it’s a good thing for our group. We’ve got to keep grinding.”
  • Adam Proteau: Maple Leafs’ efforts paying dividends and making rebuild less painful (Metro)
    Finally, the Leafs seem to understand what many have known about Toronto sports fans for years: it doesn’t matter if you’re the most talented team on the playing surface — so long as fans see a full effort being put forward, they’ll respond positively. And, since November began, that effort has always been visible.