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SIXTY-SEVEN! (clap, clap, clap clap clap)

To absolutely no one’s surprise, the Toronto Maple Leafs lost in the opening round of the National Hockey League playoffs. Again. The Columbus Blue Jackets took them out and there was no comeback miracle this time.

That means the Toronto Maple Leafs have now not won a playoff series since 2004, which is also the last time the Atlanta Thrashers won a playoff series. Oh, right … the Thrashers never won a playoff series before moving to Winnipeg.

And just to dig the knife a little deeper, here are some funny money stats because if you know the Maple Leafs, it’s all about the Bordens for Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (Sir Robert Borden is the face of the $100 bill, by the way):

The Leafs’ top three earners – John Tavares, Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, the latter being the highest-paid player in the NHL at $16 million – have a salary cap hit this season of $33.527 million, roughly 40 per cent of what the Leafs can spend under the cap. The Blue Jackets dressed 11 forwards for the deciding game of their first-round playoff series and their combined cap hit? $34.33 million. A reminder: that’s for 11 players.

The aforementioned three players are also the three highest-paid players in the NHL this season ($16 million for Marner, $15.9 million each for Matthews and Tavares). Add it up and you have a trio of dudes who make more combined than the entire gross domestic product of the island nation of Tuvalu. Good return on the investment, eh?

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Now, you Leafs fans out there will probably throw some sick burn my way and tell me about how it’s a work in progress but let’s be honest – the Toronto Maple Leafs have been a work in progress since 1968. It’s now 50-plus years and counting for the longest active Stanley Cup drought.

Let’s hear ya, Leafs Nation! Oh, we did after the Leafs decided to send out a beige “Thanks, fans!” tweet following another season of forcing playoff goulash down their throats. You should check it out … it’s a gas.

Ramon Laureano: my new hero

I wrote a couple of weeks back about how I would love to see what would happen if two teams in Major League Baseball decided to get into it, even though fighting and bench-clearing has been banned by MLB for this season because muh Covid.

We didn’t have to wait too long as the Oakland Athletics took on the Houston Asterisks on Aug. 9 and Oakland’s Ramon Laureano became my new favourite baseball player after he charged the Asterisks’ dugout. He was plunked twice by Houston pitchers and had a few words with those hard dudes in the Asterisks’ dugout who wouldn’t come out and challenge him.

Alex Cintron, Houston’s hitting coach (no word on whether he knows how to play percussion on a garbage can), was the main instigator as he jawed at Laureano on the top step of the dugout, goading him to fight and, according to Laureano, made some rather nasty remarks about his mother. Laureano figured he’d heard enough and it was time for action. Laureano ran toward Cintron, who was then shielded by a few of the Asterisks. Both teams got involved and the fun began.

Through all of this, Mr. Tough Guy was nowhere to be found as he hid behind the madding crowd of players, which is typical of someone who loses their testicular fortitude once they realize that the person they’ve been jacking at decides to call their bluff.

Make no mistake – Cintron started this whole thing. He and his big mouth needed to be punished by Major League Baseball and it was as he was handed a 20-game suspension on Aug. 11. Serves him right. Laureano got five games and that’s fair. You can’t charge a dugout and not expect to be wrist-slapped. But Cintron got the lion’s share of what was handed down and rightfully so.

And finally …

Good Idea: Having fun with the scoreboard at NHL playoff games.

Bad Idea: Not having fans in the stands to react to them.

The NHL playoffs are continuing in the bubbles of Toronto and Edmonton without any fans but that isn’t stopping the guy operating the scoreboard at Rogers Place in Edmonton from having some fun.

One such graphic reminded fans that concession stands would remain open for the entire game, complete with someone opening up a fridge. Another told fans that the wave was strictly prohibited on-site at the arena while a third urged fans to safely leave their couch following completion of the game.

What would make this even more fun is to have the scoreboard somehow tap into livestreams of fans watching games to see if they could do Kiss-Cams, proposals, drinking games … wait, scrap that idea. The Kiss-Cam can go off the rails really quickly, right?

Until next time, folks …

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