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I’ve got very mixed feelings on Babcock. I think it was the right time for the Leafs to let him go, but I also don’t think the team’s recent slide into irrelevance is enough to undo the impressive record he’s amassed over the course of his career.

It’s hard to believe now, but there was once a time when Mike Babcock could have been considered a progressive coach. His teams emphasized possession long before it had become a buzzword, and were routinely among the least-penalized clubs in the league. People are quick to credit his success to having a strong roster during his time with the Wings, but he was still able to achieve some pretty impressive results despite lacklustre rosters in Anaheim and the lean years in Detroit.

It’s hip to hate on him now, but I think it’s more of a case of the game passing him by than his reputation being unearned. He was once a good coach, even if he isn’t anymore. My biggest issue with Babcock has to do with the rumours of his behaviour towards his players, some of which are more credible than others. What he allegedly did to Mitch Marner has no place in the game, and I have a tough time believing it would be effective. If that kind of behaviour was a regular occurence from Babcock, then I’m happy to see him go.

To answer your sub-question about Mike Commodore: his tweets come across as unhinged, petty, and needlessly aggressive. They’re also hilarious. I hope he never stops.

I don’t have any NHL coaches in my rolodex, so the best I can do is speculate. My guess would be that it’s a risk assessment thing. Teams can ice the puck on the penalty kill, which means they’re free to fire as many shots at the open net as they desire if they gain possession. I’d imagine most coaches would rather take their chances on the power play and only pull the goalie when it’s absolutely necessary.

My guess is that we’ll see a number of players from both the WCE team and the one that made it to the Cup Final in 2011. Naslund will obviously have to be there, along with Alex Burrows, but I’d love to see some of the lesser-known linemates like Jason Krog and Trent Klatt make an appearance because of their unique places in Sedin lore. I’d imagine whoever can’t make it in person will be in the video tribute, which I imagine will probably go down as the best in team history.

I usually like the slightly less ubiquitous ones (at least in Canada) like Five Guys and Johnny Rockets. If we’re talking national fast food chains, A&W probably has the best selection, but the best sandwich available at any national food chain is easily the Spicy Chicken Sandwich at Wendy’s.

In all honesty, though. Fast food isn’t even cheap anymore, which was always the biggest selling point. Outside of the convenience, there isn’t much of a reason to seek it out. Go support a local place if you’ve got the time.

Boucher is a classic AAAA player. He’s too good for the AHL, but he loses most of his effectiveness once he makes the transition to the majors, either because he’s thinking the game at a slower pace or he’s taking an extra half-second to get open and get his shot off. He’s got NHL-level offensive tools, but that’s about it, and I think that arguably makes him more valuable as a minor league piece. At the AHL level, he’s a superstar. At the NHL level, he’s just another guy. Personally, I don’t mind having him in Utica, where prospects can get some experience playing with a guy who has NHL-level offensive instincts. That’s not to say he couldn’t be useful at the NHL level, I just don’t he’s worth getting worked up about. At best, you could maybe get a fourth-line PP specialist out of him. If that’s the case, I’d prefer to see Nikolay Goldobin in that role, anyway.

I don’t think you can really fault Travis Green for using Boeser, Pettersson, Horvat, Miller, and even Pearson ahead of Quinn Hughes, if only because defensemen generally seem to have less success in the shootout than forwards do. If he’s not fifth or sixth in the rotation, I’d say that’s a problem, but the truth is that we’ve rarely gotten the opportunity to see if that’s the case.

To be honest, I haven’t noticed him very much when he’s been in the lineup, even going back to last year. He’s posted some pretty ugly underlying numbers so far this season, but he came out in the black by shot-share and expected goals over his four games last season, so it’s too early to judge him for that. At the end of the day, MacEwen can probably be a cheap, cost-controlled option on the fourth line in the near future, and I don’t think expectations are any higher than that. He’s clearly worked very hard to get to where he is, so I’m happy to see him earn another call-up.

It’s Jake Virtanen and it’s not close. Despite starting off the season with another offensive outburst, he’s been the team’s worst regular forward by expected goals, hasn’t fared much better in terms of controlling the share of shot, and has consistently been a massive drag on his linemates regardless of where he’s played. In all the time I’ve watched the Canucks, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a player blow as many offensive opportunities as Virtanen. He’ll consistently make a controlled zone entry with plenty of time and space, only to stop up and deliver a wrist shot from 30-40 feet out. It’s infuriating. It’s not something a player with good hockey sense would do, and it’s not the type of thing we should be seeing after five seasons of pro hockey experience. Given that his defensive abilities have completely atrophied from where they were during his first year, I’m not seeing a ton of value from him right now, in spite of the decent goal output.

It’s going to depend on how Leivo fares over the course of the rest of the season. Thomas Drance had a great article for the Athletic recently that touched on this subject, and he correctly pointed out that there’s a very fine line between Leivo getting a huge payday in the offseason or simply looking for another audition. If he continues on his current pace, he’ll finish the season somewhere in the neighbourhood of 37 points, which would make him an intriguing option for a number of teams in free agency. If he takes a step back and only gets to 30, the Canucks can probably get him for around 2 million dollars a year. If his shooting percentage regresses and he picks things up a bit, he could get to 40 or more, which would make him prohibitively expensive. Right now, there’s a wide range of possible outcomes, so it’s tough to guess how contract talks are going to go.

Trading Jacob Markstrom at the deadline this year is undoubtedly the smartest way to handle the situation if you’re looking at it in terms of prioritizing the long-term health of the team. Unfortunately, unless the Canucks really hit the skids at some point in the next couple of months, it’s never going to happen. This team went all-in on making the playoffs this offseason, so there’s no way they will trade Marstrom if they’re in the playoff picture come the trade deadline.