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The Edge of Lori: Treliving in Toronto

By Lori Bennett National Sports Columnist NHL Noise Either the Vegas Golden Knights or the Florida Panthers will hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup. After falling behind to Vegas three games to none, the Dallas Stars made a series of it. In their first opportunity to claim the series, veteran Joe Pavelski scored in overtime to delay gratification for the Knights. Last weekend they had a second chance to end it, and this time it was Ty Dellandrea who played hero, scoring two goals for the Dallas win. On Monday night, May 29, the comeback was quashed as Vegas came out flying and dominated the Stars in a 6-0 shutout win. The Golden Knights will get a few days of rest before facing the well-rested Panthers. By the time the two meet the Panthers will have been done their Conference Final series since May 24th, a full ten days of rest. Generally speaking, that amount of down time would evoke questions of whether the team would be rested or rusty. In this case, it is well documented that goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky is at his best when rested. The Stanley Cup Final was due to get underway last Saturday night. In other news, the general managers saga continues. On Wednesday, the Toronto Maple Leafs named Brad Treliving their new GM. This comes a little over six weeks after Treliving and the Calgary Flames agreed to part ways, and less than two weeks after the Leafs fired Kyle Dubas. As usual, the Toronto fanbase is displaying a rational approach to things. After widespread criticism for Dubas and his inability to take the Leafs over the top, the jabs turned to Treliving before he had worked one day in the market. “The guy who couldn’t sign Tkachuk to a long-term contract is in charge of dealing with the core four?” We can only read between the lines, but every indication is that Treliving had little to nothing to do with Matthew Tkachuk’s desire to move on from Calgary. Considering what he was confronted with, the GM didn’t do too poorly in the return. The bigger question is what will be learned in Toronto? Will Shanahan take to heart the ultimate outcome of his reluctance to relinquish control and give his previous GM a “seat at the table”? Will Treliving be given freedom to deal based on what he has learned from the Gaudreau and Tkachuk experiences? Will Sheldon Keefe return as Head Coach and, if he does, can he have more success under a new boss? Last Thursday, Treliving met with the Toronto media, along with Brendan Shanahan. He identified travelling to Arizona to meet with Auston Matthews as a top priority. When asked about Keefe, Treliving noted this was another priority, but offered his view of Keefe from the outside. “I think he’s a really good coach.” He also said he would get to know Keefe before making decisions. When asked about the Core Four, Treliving said, “This can’t be about the Core Four. This is about the Toronto Maple Leafs.” He confirmed he would look at all options. Brendan Shanahan was asked about the autonomy of the GM role, based on the circumstances under which Dubas was rumoured to have left, and his answer was a bit of a non-answer. He said that ultimately, the General Manager must make decisions and described Treliving as a collaborative person. One thing is certain – there will be some coaching changes in Toronto. On Tuesday, the Washington Capitals announced they had hired Spencer Carbery as their new head coach. Carbery had been the Leafs assistant coach under Sheldon Keefe for the past three seasons. So, the Leafs found their new GM before Dubas found his new team, but just barely. On Thursday the Pittsburgh Penguins named Dubas their new President of Hockey Operations, dropping their announcement minutes before Treliving was due to meet the Toronto media. Presumably, this means Dubas will be on the hunt for a GM and may already have guys in mind. This past week we also saw a rookie GM make his first move, and it was significant. On Tuesday, the Nashville Predators Barry Trotz fired Head Coach John Hynes, and by Wednesday he had announced Andrew Brunette as the new bench boss. Brunette comes by way of New Jersey where he was an Assistant Coach last season. With that hire, three coaching vacancies remained, assuming no one else is relieved in the days and weeks ahead. The Calgary Flames, New York Rangers and Columbus Blue Jackets are all still interviewing candidates for the Head Coach role. Several experienced and unemployed coaches are options to fill the roles, including names like Gerard Gallant, Peter Laviolette, and Bruce Boudreau. In the coming days we’ll know if teams chose veterans over up and coming coaching prospects. Raptors Racket On Monday, news broke that Nick Nurse had reached an agreement to become the next head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers. Nurse, who had coached the Toronto Raptors for five years and led the team to its first NBA Championship, had parted ways with the Raptors at the end of their season. Nurse is not the only coach the Raptors will play without. Adrian Griffin had spent the past five years in Toronto as an Assistant Coach. Last weekend he was nabbed by the Milwaukee Bucks to be their next head coach. In the meantime, the Raptors’ search for a new Head Coach continues. Blue Jays Babble Last weekend the Toronto Blue Jays won their first series in a while, claiming two wins in a three-game series against the Minnesota Twins. Solid outings by Kevin Gausman and Jose Berrios on Friday and Sunday bookended a Saturday bomb by Chris Bassitt. At the end of the weekend, the Twins led the American League Central with a poorer win percentage than the Jays who were in the American League East basement. That fact summarizes the conundrum for the Blue Jays. On Tuesday the Milwaukee Brewers arrived in Toronto for a three-game series. On Tuesday night Yusei Kikuchi pitched his usual five-inning outing and allowed just two runs. The bullpen held the lead the Jays grabbed early off a four-run opening inning and the Good Guys claimed the 7-2 wn. On Wednesday night, Alek Manoah had another rough start. He needed 48 pitches to get through the first two innings and was pulled after four having made 89 pitches and allowing two runs. The final was a 4-2 loss for Toronto. Manoah has become somewhat of a Rubik’s Cube with some missing stickers – no one knows how to solve him. After a stellar season last year, some regression was expected, but Manoah has struggled mightily this season. His speed is diminished, his pitch command is off, and he’s not pitching as aggressively as we’ve grown used to. Some have asked whether the newly introduced pitch clock is a factor. But truly, no one knows what to do to fix the big man. The Jays were built for this season with the assumption that he would be their ace, alongside Kevin Gausman. Instead, the discussion surrounding Manoah is whether he needs some time in Triple A to regain his form. The Jays were due to play the rubber match against the Brewers on Thursday before heading off to New York for a three-game weekend series against the Mets.

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