For a sport that really loves to tout 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. Morgan Rielly of Toronto was just the latest to wet himself when an opponent reminded him just a little too much that the Leafs had lost a game:
Did you know that Ridly Greig was breaking some unwritten rule that you can’t fire a slapshot into an empty net at the end of the game? Of course you didn’t, because it would be a ridiculously stupid rule to follow. No one cares if you clinch an NBA game with a breakaway dunk. If a player can make that a 360 or reverse jam or something cool, so much the better. Baseball players love to fill their pants about dumb stuff, and yet no one seems to mind when a position player pitching sees one of his offerings cracked to Jupiter.
But no, that wouldn’t do for the Leafs and Rielly, who went Dale Hunter on Greig for his apparent crossing of a line that was only in the Leafs’ or Rielly’s head. And if you’re wondering what kind of institutional control might be going on within that Leafs room, here’s the ol’ hand-steady-on-the-tiller Sheldon Keefe on what he thought of his only good d-man taking himself out of action for the next couple weeks, likely, over a nothing:
Given two days to reflect on his comments with the realization that Rielly is having an in-person hearing and is more certain to miss six games or more, Keefe once again had his brain fluid drip down out of his mouth:
Dig up, stupid.
The Leafs have lost touch with both the Panthers and Bruins in the Northeast, and now will spend the last 30 games of the season scratching and clawing with Detroit for the final automatic spot, as well as the Wings, Islanders, and anyone who else gets hot for even a wild-card spot. Which likely means that however many playoff series the Leafs play, they won’t have home ice for any of them. Not that that has ever saved them in recent years anyway.
Keefe probably should concern himself with the fact that his team that is loaded with speed and scoring talent is a middling rush team, or that his bottom six is garbage, or that his slow-ass defense is far too passive, which prevents the team from getting out in the open ice as much as it should. Or that their goalies are either hurt, bad, or both.
But no, this is what the Leafs are concerning themselves with. There’s an obvious answer here, which is if a team doesn’t want an opponent putting some flavor on a game-clinching empty-net goal, the proper strategy is to not find oneself in a situation where the goalie has to be pulled against by far the division’s worst team. Don’t want to see the team on the other bench celebrate a win? Great, beat them. Otherwise take the loss and shut up. But in Toronto, no one ever accepts anything and they certainly never shut up about it. Go, Leafs, Go.