Wayne Simmonds scored first for the Toronto Maple Leafs Saturday and Michael Bunting gave them some breathing room with his third period goal.
In Saturday’s 3-1 win against Ottawa, the Maple Leafs leaned on their local talent. Toronto’s first and third goals were scored by Wayne Simmonds and Michael Bunting, respectively. Both wingers hail from the Toronto suburb of Scarborough.
When the Toronto Maple Leafs sign free agents in the offseason, we often hear that the player grew up as a Maple Leafs fan. It is a dream come true for them just to put on the Blue and White.
John Tavares as a kid with a Toronto Maple Leafs comforter may be the most vivid recent example. While this can feel overdone at times, this local connection works for non-superstars, too.
Growing up in Toronto, or southern Ontario, there are a lot of kids who want to play for the Maple Leafs. There are benefits to being the team in this huge hockey market. Jason Spezza keeps signing discount deals to play for the Maple Leafs because this is his hometown.
“I think being able to play in my hometown and have my wife and daughter there for warmups – they have been there the past two games – has been really nice for me to see them,” said Wayne Simmonds.
“It was a cool experience to look up and see all the Maple Leafs jerseys in the crowd, and they’re cheering,” said Bunting, about celebrating his third-period goal. “They’re cheering for me. For a kid growing up in Scarborough, not too far from here, it’s definitely a dream come true to score the first one.”
The Maple Leafs also dipped into the local hockey market just to find a backup goaltender for Saturday’s game. Due to a salary cap crunch, the Maple Leafs could not recall Michael Hutchinson from the AHL to replace an injured Petr Mrazek. So the Leafs grabbed University of Toronto netminder Alex Bishop, who was born in Markham and lived in Richmond Hill, two more Toronto suburbs.
Bishop did not need to play against Ottawa but, still, a pretty cool experience for a local Toronto kid. That local connection plays from stars right down to a local university student who was the backup goaltender for a day.
The Maple Leafs have recalled Hutchinson on an emergency basis while Mrazek is sidelined for the next two weeks. Bishop will return to classes at U of T.
PASS THE HAT
A couple of kids who played minor hockey for the Toronto Marlies had big nights, too.
Connor McDavid’s hat trick powered the Oilers to a 5-2 win in the Battle of Alberta. Mike Smith had 45 saves.
Sam Bennett notched a hat trick in Florida’s 5-1 over the New York Islanders.
Brad Marchand scored two goals in Boston’s 3-1 win against Dallas.
The Penguins chased Marc-Andre Fleury, scoring early and often in a 5-2 win against Chicago.
Thomas Greiss stopped 40 shots in Detroit’s 3-1 win vs. Vancouver.
Tomas Hertl and Jasper Weatherby led the Sharks attack against Winnipeg.
Frederik Andersen had 38 saves in Carolina 3-2 win at Nashville.
AROUND THE RINK
Max Pacioretty is out long-term for the Golden Knights.
The Buffalo Sabres do not want to retain salary in a Jack Eichel trade.
Dallas Stars defenseman John Klingberg saw defensemen get paid this summer and now wants to cash in.