Sinful Admiration

By JD Lagrange – On Sunday night, I was watching the end of the game between the Boston Bruins and the Florida Panthers and, like most hockey fans out there, I was shocked by the outcome. But what really got me during those post-game moments, was seeing Patrice Bergeron hugging each and every Bruins’ player coming off the ice. Then, seeing how emotional he got when hugging David Krejci… and then, Brad Marchand.

This whole sequence made me realize how much appreciation and admiration I have for Bergeron. Yes, in spite of him playing for one of the two teams I dislike the most. I guess it is possible to hate a team, but love a player on their roster.

It got me thinking that today, like most Habs’ fan out there, there are two teams that I strongly dislike (not to use the word ‘hate’): the Boston Bruins, of course, and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Historically, since I’ve been following the NHL, you can add the Quebec Nordiques to these two. Oh there have been other teams that I disliked over the years, mostly due to short rivalries (like the Ottawa Senators), but it comes nowhere close to Quebec, Boston and Toronto.

Sinful admiration

With that said, there have been players on those teams that I have really liked. I will try to dress a list but don’t worry, you’ll see that it’s rather short.


Bobby Orr: What’s there not to like about the guy? He could do it all on the ice. Offense, defense and he was tough as nail. The best defenseman to ever play the game, in my opinion.

Brad Park: For some reason, I have always liked Park, a defenseman who wore the Bruins’ colours from 1975 to 1983.

Jean Ratelle: I’ve just mentioned Brad Park, but Ratelle was traded with Park and Joe Zanussi to the Boston Bruins for Esposito and Carol Vadnais in November of 1975. I remember him more as a Bruin, with whom he had 450 points in 419 games in Boston.

Raymond Bourque: Again, another class act on and off the ice. If you were to put a picture in the dictionary about the definition of the Norris Trophy, as the best all-round defenseman, he would be it during his time.

Patrice Bergeron: We’ve just talked about him a bit, but he’s another genuine good guy. Great leader, good at both ends of the ice and on faceoffs. Doing the little things right.


Wendel Clark

Wendel Clark: Clark is simply the type of player that I like most: power-forward who will play a physical game, and who can (and will) drop the gloves while contributing offensively as well. They don’t come any grittier than that, while being an excellent hockey player.

Darryl Sittler: The Leafs’ captain was cut in the same cloth as Steve Yzerman and Joe Sakic. Class acts, great player, who can forget that afro? He was a 200-foot player who made his teammates better.

Lanny McDonald: A prolific goals’ scorer often better known for his red moustache. I liked him as a Leafs, but also as a Flames when he went to Calgary.

Rick Vaive: My admiration for Vaive dates from before he ever skated in the NHL. He was one of the many former Castors de Sherbrooke, in the QMJHL, whom I grew up watching, alongside Jimmy Mann, Richard Sévigny, Jere Gillis, Ron Carter and Floyd Lahache, amongst many others.


Michel Goulet: I hated him for his timely goals against the Canadiens, but what a good goals’ scorer he was. He wasn’t dirty but played hard, and he was always a threat while on the ice. You just couldn’t hate the guy.

Joe Sakic: Burnaby Joe was putting up 100 points a season on a bottom-feeding Nordiques’ team, well before they became respectable. In the same mold as many of the players in this article, he is a true class act and has been his entire playing career and now, in management.

Owen Nolan: Again, the power-forward who could do it all. It’s unfortunate that he and Sakic had to continue their career in Colorado when the NHL moved the Nordiques’ franchise there in 1995…

There you have it. So it’s a total of 12 players on three teams over a period of about 50 years! Not a high percentage, is it? I didn’t dislike every other players on those teams, far from there, but I wouldn’t go as far as saying that I liked them either. Who would be on your list? Put them down in the comments below.

Draisaitl, Matthews, MacKinnon… McDavid

By JD Lagrange – Living in Canada, you almost have to be a hockey fan. While Lacrosse is, for some odd reasons, considered to be the National Sport, hockey is the passion. It’s what gets the motor ticking, the sport most followed in this beautiful and vast country. And with seven teams to choose from, you have fans everywhere. The issue? All major sports’ media outlets are located in… Toronto.

It’s the biggest market, the biggest population, the biggest advertising dollars and for those reasons, the Maple Leafs are the most talked about franchise on those networks. It certainly isn’t based on success as the Montreal Canadiens have won almost twice as many Stanley Cups. The Maple Leafs haven’t won the Cup since 1967 and haven’t even won a playoffs’ series in nearly two decades!

But with the Toronto bias, comes injustice and frustration across the nation. The other six teams get very little coverage, or the attention that they deserve. If a Leafs’ player is doing well, that’s all you hear about on those networks. Auston Matthews, last season, polarized their attention due to his 60 goals pace and eventually achievement. Yet, in Edmonton, Connor McDavid had a better season. This year, it was all about Mitch Marner and his points’ streak. But the Toronto bias is having its fair share of humble pie this season…

So on this time changing weekend, I felt compelled to set the clocks to the right time. Is Auston Matthews really in the same category as Connor McDavid as a player? Not just this season, but overall? I was under the impression that he’s not and I have set to show why… coming from someone OUTSIDE of Toronto.

I’ve chosen to compare Matthews to two other centers that are closer to his skills’ set. Just to appease the Toronto fanatics, I’ve also included McDavid’s comparables below those tables. Have a look for yourself.


DRAFT3rd overall 20141st overall 20131st overall 2016
PP TOI/GP4:024:043:39
SH TOI/GP0:420:070:03
FO WON613413429
FO %53.7%45.5%52.9%
CAP HIT$8.5M$6.3M$11.64M



So when considering all aspects, the rankings, this season, are:

  1. Connor McDavid
  2. Leon Draisaitl
  3. Nathan MacKinnon
  4. Auston Matthews


Predictable as always, you know that Leafs’ fans will claim as an excuse that their boy is not having a good season and the comparison isn’t fair. So in all fairness, let’s include last year too. In fact, to get an even clearer picture, why don’t we include the year before too?

PP TOI/GP4:013:563:19
SH TOI/GP0:460:040:05
FO WON2,0721,0341,570
FO %54.1%46.1%54.0%



The past three seasons combined, Connor McDavid has scored one more goal than Auston Matthews. Granted, he has managed to better survive the grind of a NHL season, having played more games. For the fact that he’s been healthier and outscored the Toronto protege is an eye opener. Points-wise? It’s not even close.

The rankings for the past three seasons are as follows:

  1. Connor McDavid
  2. Leon Draisaitl
  3. Nathan MacKinnon & Auston Matthews (tie)


Many players are catalogued with their playoffs’ performances, in addition to their regular season. Nathan MacKinnon is the only one of those players with a Stanley Cup but let’s look at their personal contribution to the success of their team, career-wise.

PP TOI/GP3:573:593:18
SH TOI/GP0:370:030:02
FO WON323415335
FO %48.9%46.0%53.3%



The playoffs’ rankings are:

  1. Leon Draisaitl
  2. Connor McDavid
  3. Nathan MacKinnon
  4. Auston Matthews


It is clear, reading comments on social media, that few Eastern fans follow the Western Conference teams closely. For example, I don’t know how often I’ve read Leafs’ fans claiming that Matthews is a 200-foot player while downplaying McDavid’s defensive game. It cannot be further from the truth. This season, McDavid is used regularly on the penalty kill even, something Matthews, Draisaitl and MacKinnon don’t do.

I felt that last year’s votes for the Hart and Lindsay Awards were an insult to McDavid, who was (and still is) the best player in the world. I get it, just like in the times of Wayne Gretzky and Sidney Crosby’s prime seasons, some people (players included) get tired of always praising the same guy over and over again. So they try to be “different” and “imaginative”, and try changing things up. Last season, too many were mesmerized by the 60 goals, in my opinion. Matthews was the best goals’ scorer. He was not the best player.

In fact, Matthews has never been the very best player in the NHL and he doesn’t have what it takes to ever be. This is McDavid’s league and guys like Draisaitl, MacKinnon and yes, Matthews, are all a notch below the Oilers’ number 97. Let’s see what the upcoming Connor (Bedard) can do one day…