Pompous columnist takes aim at society that cares so much about the Leafs

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National Post columnist Jonathan Kay is outraged that so many people are outraged with the Maple Leafs.

Referencing a Toronto Star column by Dave Feschuk that called for Leafs GM Brian Burke to apologize to the fans, Kay wrote:

I’m very sorry that the Leafs (apparently) aren’t heading to the playoffs. And no doubt, well-apprised fans have all sorts of ideas for improving the team’s performance. But when did we, as a society, decide that losing at sports is some kind of moral sin — one that requires public shaming, histrionic lamentations, and the sort of grand appeals for “forgiveness” (Feschuk’s word) that we more traditionally associate with the legacy of Indian residential schools? Feschuk informs me that a pair of Leafs gold-section season tickets cost $16,000 per year. That’s a lot of money. But anyone who pays that price isn’t “owed” anything — except the right to be admitted to the arena and watch 60 minutes of NHL hockey.

You expect people to get crazy and irrational in the actual heat of sporting competition. What is the act of “rooting for laundry” after all, except an institutionalized, socially acceptable outlet for the thinly suppressed tribal passions and hatreds encoded in our evolutionary psychology? Instead of Hutus and Tutsis, Sunnis and Shiites, we’re Leafs and Canadiens, Cowboys and Steelers. I get that. And in the immediate agony of defeat, it makes sense that we would demand abject “apologies” from our tribal overlords for shaming us in our failed show-battles against rival tribes. But once the players file into their dressing room, it’s time for people to wake up to the amoral reality of modern professional sports. Losing isn’t a sin, just as winning doesn’t make us all better people. No one owes you an apology just because the lions ate the wrong gladiator.

In a related story, Jonathan Kay is a real hit at parties.

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.