Nichols’ Notes

Nichols’ Notes: Leafs’ Season of Chaos No Surprise

Nichols’ Notes: Leafs’ Season of Chaos No Surprise
Chris Nichols

In the mood for some brutal honestly from a rival executive on how to put the Leafs’ season in words?

Mr. LeBrun always elicits fantastic quotes.

“Before the season began, they undercut a very good GM by firing his support staff,” said the executive, referring to Dave Nonis and his assistants, Claude Loiselle and Dave Poulin, who were let go last summer. “They fired a good — albeit tough — coach in Randy Carlyle before the midway point in the season and declared that his replacement was only a temp. Then they essentially told their players that they are unwanted and proceeded to trade away as many as they could. Is it really a surprise to anyone that their season has descended into chaos?

“On the other hand, if there’s a year you want to tank, this is it. So there’s that. They could get better in a hurry come June.”

Source: LeBrun/ ESPN


Joe Colborne and Nazem Kadri are good friends, so it wasn’t a surprise to see Colborne defending Kadri in the wake of the latest over-dramatized plot twist in the land of the Leafs.

Colborne offered up extensive comments, including some focused on the media in that market.

“You’re either a step under a God out there or you’re right at the bottom of the garbage bin,” Colborne said.

“There’s no in between. Naz, he’s a pretty big personality and when something like that happens, it’s just magnified even more by the media.

“He’s a very confident guy, so I’m sure he’ll be able to bounce back no matter what happens.”

Source: Odland/ Herald


So now that the trades have been made and the train is on the track to potentially land one of Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel, what sort of timeline are we talking about for the Buffalo Sabres’ road back to respectability?

“I think the building blocks are coming into place right now,” said team president Ted Black on Thursday morning.  “I mean, there’s a lot of unknowns. We don’t know where we’re going to draft. Obviously we’re going to have a high pick next year, and where that falls you don’t know.

“But you come to opening night next year, Evander Kane is going to be on the team and in all likelihood, Sam Reinhart on the team. Maybe, depending on where we pick, whoever we pick first in the first round. Who knows? The second pick in the first round could be a guy who’s ready to make that big move and no one’s ready for it either.

“I think the teardown mode certainly is over. You go through that, you’ve got to rebuild your team. You start by tearing down and converting those players into picks and prospects. I think the rebuild phase – I think we’re going to transition now from rebuild to build in this off-season.

“But there isn’t really a timeline. It’s going to depend on the players. But I think the trajectory is upward and I think we’re headed in the right direction.”

Source: Nichols on Hockey/ WGR 550


Gary Roberts is the co-ordinator of the new University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Lemieux Sports Complex, which will open in August.

So in addition to doing his well-known work with a who’s who of hockey players each summer, he’ll also be able to pass his message along to youth athletes. That message is not just about how to train, it’s about how to eat.

“My biggest beef still today in all these arenas is what we feed our children and the athletes,” Roberts said. “I believe we’re going to see better athletes, better results by understanding and educating our youth on all elements of a high-performance lifestyle, I call it.

“I really believe it’s more about a high-performance lifestyle than it is about just high-performance training.”

Source: Whyno/ Canadian Press


Speaking of Roberts and the players he trains, two of them are Cody Hodgson and McDavid.

The former has nothing but praise for the latter, based on having spent months together training.

“Very humble kid for his success, much like Stamkos,” Hodgson said of McDavid. “He’s got a good role model there with Gary’s program that he can watch him every day and see how humble he is and how hard he works.”

Source: Vogl/ News


Humble. It really seems to be a continual theme for McDavid, despite being an inevitable superstar-in-the-making.

“I remember he was at our camp when he was 15 years old and three days into it, I see him walking around, still wearing his Toronto Marlies midget jacket,” said Erie Otters GM Sherry Bassin. “When I told him I’d get him our stuff, he said “no, sir, I haven’t made the team yet.’

“Phenomenal person, academic player of the year. He is a generational player. They throw that word around, but he is a franchise player,” said Bassin. “There’s a book called the Two Second Advantage about people who see ahead … Gretzky said they’ll put a chapter about this kid, too.”

Source: Matheson/ Journal


Mike Babcock, ahead of the Detroit Red Wings squaring off to face the Columbus Blue Jackets:

“We come in here, we try to make everyone look like the ’68 Montreal Canadiens,” Babcock said. “Doesn’t matter what their record is. That’s what we try to do. But they don’t believe us.

“The bottom line is we know we’ve got to get better. We aren’t firing on all cylinders right now, like we were two weeks ago, so it’s time to get our game back, and that’s what we’re going to try to do today.”

Source: St. James/ Free Press


When Ken Hitchcock has a full and healthy lineup, what goes into deciding who plays and who sits?

“You want to make everyone part of the mix, but I think you base it on expectations on where they are in the lineup,” Hitchcock said. “If they’re higher up in the lineup, you expect production. If they’re maybe down a little lower, you expect higher energy, error-free hockey. I think it depends on the role they have whether they’re doing the job or not. It’s the great thing about competition within a team. Every team goes through it, every team has it. It’s good stuff. So that’s kind of what you do is based on where you play the player and how much you expect from him; more how much you expect from that position wherever they fit in, whether it’s top nine or 10, 11, 12, 13 or top three or top four defensemen or bottom three, whatever.”

Source: Korac/ In The Slot


Hitchcock is gunning for his 700th NHL coaching win on Thursday night when the Flyers play the St. Louis Blues.

Hitchcock coached Philadelphia coach Craig Berube in junior, and Berube says Hitchcock wasn’t always of a defensive-based mind.

“I think he mirrored the Edmonton Oilers a lot. Being he’s from Edmonton and watching them and seeing their offense,” Berube said. “But when he got to the NHL, he became more of a defensive-minded coach. He went to Dallas and realized you’ve got to play good defense to win, and he brought that structure to Dallas and they won the Cup there.”
Source: Carchidi/ Inquirer


It’s always worthwhile to look at the reasons behind a player taking his game to the next level, as has been the case with Nashville Predators forward Colin Wilson this season.

“I think he came in this year with a completely different mindset and just took things to another level as far as his speed and work ethic on a nightly basis,” Matt Cullen said. “Sometimes it’s just a conscious decision, a mindset, like ‘I’m not going to be stopped this year.’ I think he’s done that. You can see in his play where he’s outworked guys in the corners, and then has the size and skills to create a lot.”

Source: Glennon/ Tennessean

Nichols’ Notes
Chris Nichols

Chris has written about both hockey and fantasy hockey for a number of media outlets over the last 14 years, including a combined decade with and He launched in February of 2014. An aversion to wearing socks sparked a move from his hometown of Edmonton to San Diego, California in the mid-’90s, and the Oilers have not won a Cup in his absence.

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