Maple Leafs make first pitch to Tavares

The Maple Leafs were the first to make their John Tavares pitch late Monday night Eastern time.

Pulling up to the Creative Artists Agency offices in Century City, Cal., were its heaviest hitters, club president Brendan Shanahan (expected to press Taveras about coming back to help end the hometown Cup drought), general manager Kyle Dubas and the very persuasive coach Mike Babcock.

The Leafs, who spent two hours with agent Pat Brisson and Team Tavaras, were said to have included a convincing video, shot at the ACC.

Former Marlies video coach Justin Bourne, now a contributor at The Athletic, recalled Dubas sweated every detail of a pump-up video he supervised for the farm team in the playoffs.

Sportsnet and TSN crews camped on site say San Jose and Boston will have their chance Tuesday, followed by Tampa Bay and Dallas on Wednesday. The Islanders, taking no risks after getting some momentum back in a front office purge and strong draft, joined the caravan of teams, led by new GM Lou Lamoriello.

Two other teams, believed to be Vegas and Nashville, are keeping in touch by phone. Dallas, Tampa, Vegas and Nashville all have the advantage of little or no state tax.

FAME GAME

The Hockey Hall of Fame’s 2018 class will be voted on Tuesday and announced later in the afternoon.

Fast-tracked this year by the 18-member selection committee will be newly eligible goaltender Martin Brodeur, who has the most victories (691) and shutouts (125) at his position, but after that, no one can be called a tap-in. Ottawa’s Daniel Alfredsson, a success on the international and NHL stage, has already been bypassed once, but is now joined by first-year eligible Martin St. Louis, winner of the Art Ross and Hart trophies and of course, the Stanley Cup.

Then it’s a very long waiting list of veterans. Pierre Turgeon took over from 2017 inductee Dave Andreychuk as the player with the most points (1,327) not yet in the Hall, while Keith Tkachuk’s case strengthened when fellow 500-goal scorer Mark Recchi was recently admitted. A 75% vote is needed for induction.

Two dark horses of recent vintage, should the committee not take an aging veteran out of a deserving pool, would be European Alex Mogilny or goalie Curtis Joseph.

MISSING ZEBRA

The Hall can admit up to four male players and two females as well as one or two in the builder category, provided one of the 18 makes the nomination. Willie O’Ree, the first black player in NHL history and a devoted ambassador of spreading the game to new cultures, could get picked — as long as there are one or no referees/linesmen picked in their category.

But the under-represented referee class might consider long-time league official Bryan Lewis. The 75-year-old first handled amateur games more than 50 years ago in his native Georgetown, Ont., and toiled through the minors to the NHL in 1970. Working more than 1,000 regular season games and various Stanley Cup and Canada Cups, he became president of the officials association before joining the league office in officiating development, keeping the NHL’s standards the highest in the world.

Thrust into the director’s job with the sudden passing of John McCauley in 1989, Lewis supervised a team of nearly 100 and guided such innovations as the two-referee system.

 HARD ROAD TO CUP

As teams scheme their way through free agency, trying to find an ace or two that can put them over the top and UFAs weigh their best options, only one team can win the Cup every year. After watching the new documentary, The Russian Five, Wings executive vice-president Jim Devellano commented on how long it took his team and more recently, the Washington Capitals, to finally have success in June.

“It’s something for fans to realize. You see how hard it is to win the Cup, how hard it is to make the moon, the sun and the stars all align. We got upset in 1993, ‘94, ‘95 and ‘96. That’s four in a row where we felt we had a team that could win it and we didn’t.”

ICE CHIPS

The feel-good story of the Caps can’t escape the business realities of the NHL. The team did not extend winger Devante Smith-Pelly by Monday’s 5 p.m. deadline, sending him to unrestricted free agency July 1 after seven playoff goals. But the team has not ended talks with him, meaning he could return as Brett Connolly did a couple of years ago in the same situation … Newly signed John Carlson would like to see Washington hire assistant Todd Reirden as head coach to replace Barry Trotz. Carlson is also pushing for the team to complete a new deal for partner Michal Kempney by the weekend deadline … Nail Yakupov, the first overall pick by Edmonton in 2012, was not qualified by Colorado, same for goalie Petr Mrzak in Philadelphia, while in L.A. defenceman Jordan Subban and winger Tobias Rieder are out, the latter whom they acquired in the Darcy Kuemper trade with Arizona … Among others looking at the UFA tag are Anthony Duclair of the Hawks, 80th pick in the 2013 draft by the Rangers and a good talent the team just couldn’t afford. Winger Daniel Carr is also out of the Habs’ plans … Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports that an unnamed team that was in on the Mike Hoffman trade talks went as far as trying to track down one of his fiancee’s college roommates to attempt to unravel the social media storm she created before Hoffman was moved out of Ottawa.

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Source:: Toronto Sun – Movies

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