James O'Brien

Mike Babcock

Close, but no cigar for Leafs in Babcock’s debut


Nobody said it would be easy for Mike Babcock and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Through one game of this expensive marriage, the Maple Leafs looked competitive against the Montreal Canadiens, yet they ultimately lost 3-1 (with Max Pacioretty‘s empty-netter inflating the difference).

One wonders if Phil Kessel supporters may feel a little vindicated by the stream of reactions that seem to indicate that Toronto played well … but lacked finish.

That seemed to be the theme from members of the Maple Leafs:

While media members and/or fans echoed similar sentiments:

Even Pacioretty – who scored two goals, while P.K. Subban assisted on all three Montreal scores – seemed impressed by the Buds’ efforts.

Sports – not just hockey – show over and over again that it’s often extremely foolish to believe that the first game of a season tells you anything more than “this happened in a single contest.”

Many seem to think this “close, but not good enough” recap might just be the template for Toronto in year one of the Babcock era, however.

Babcock makes first-ever coach’s challenge (and succeeds)


It didn’t take Mike Babcock long to make NHL history with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

OK, this is pretty innocuous stuff … but he made the first coach’s challenge, and it worked. Huzzah.

Jeff Petry seemingly scored for the Montreal Canadiens, but the league ultimately agreed that Tomas Plekanec kept Jonathan Bernier from making the save.

With that, the goal was overturned and Babcock saved his timeout.

This gives you an idea of how much the process did or did not halt play:

Thoughts on the process, which skipped dress rehearsal altogether?

Update: Here’s the league explanation, via the NHL’s Situation Room Blog:

The Referee determined that Plekanec interfered with Bernier before the puck crossed the goal line. According to Rule 78.7, “The standard for overturning the call in the event of a ‘GOAL’ call on the ice is that the Referee, after reviewing any and all available replays and consulting with the Toronto Video Room, determines that the goal should have been disallowed due to ‘Interference on the Goalkeeper,’ as described in Rules 69.1, 69.3 and 69.4.”

Therefore the original call is overturned – no goal Montreal Canadiens.

Since the Coach’s Challenge resulted in the original call being overturned, the Toronto Maple Leafs retain their time-out.

Want more info on the coach’s challenge? Read the rest of that blog entry.

Video: Blackhawks raise 2015 Stanley Cup banner

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The Chicago Blackhawks experienced a tumultuous summer, to say the least.

Wednesday serves as a reminder of successes that came mere months ago, as they raised the 2015 Stanley Cup banner before kicking off the 2015-16 season against the New York Rangers.

You can see video of the Blackhawks raising their banner above.

As a bonus, check out Oscar Lindberg‘s first NHL goal, doing his part to quiet down the crowd a little bit early in this game on NBCSN:

Bonus bonus: Artemi Panarin scored his first career NHL tally, too:

The first period didn’t end very well for Chicago, though.

Sharks sign Meier’s pal Fitzgerald to entry-level deal

via San Jose Sharks
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Cavan Fitzgerald might owe Timo Meier a steak dinner or two.

Yes, Fitzgerald was responsible for making a good impression on the San Jose Sharks once he got a chance, a process which resulted in an entry-level contract on Wednesday.

Meier, the ninth pick of the 2015 NHL Draft, basically helped Fitzgerald get a shot with the team not that long after he was selected by the Sharks.

Their QMJHL team, the Halifax Mooseheads, shared the heart-warming story back in June.

“I received a Facebook message from Timo about an hour after the draft ended asking for my phone number as soon as possible,” Fitzgerald said. “I got a call from San Jose a minute later asking if I would like to come to their (rookie) camp.”

Pretty neat, right?

Again, Fitzgerald still had to make the most of what he called “the opportunity I’ve been dreaming about,” yet he can’t deny that Meier did him a big-time solid.

Pacioretty scores the first goal of 2015-16 to Leafs’ torment

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Looks like Max Pacioretty‘s healthy enough to score.

As you can see from the video above, Pacioretty scored the first goal of the 2015-16, and it’s the sort of thing that will torment Jonathan Bernier.

Toronto Maple Leafs fans tormented Bernier a bit, too, providing a sarcastic cheer when he made a save shortly after giving up that goal against Pacioretty.

It all feels like a nice way of everyone saying “Welcome to town, Mike Babcock.”

Fun note: the NHL reminds us that Pacioretty scored the opening tally of 2014-15, as well: