Yes this is a site about hockey in Colorado, but for today let’s talk about basketball - more specifically the Toronto Raptors. Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam and the Raptors are doing something that hasn’t happened for 25 years. One of the teams I cheer for is actually playing for a championship (unless you want to count the Memorial Cup run by the Oshawa Generals in 2015). So I’m going to talk about them.
The Raptors are a team who has been the little brother in Toronto for two and a half decades. Even as they were leading the NBA in regular season wins and had the weight of the world’s biggest pop star behind them, they were the second (or third) fiddle in their own city. That’s changing. Toronto is the most multicultural city in North America and that’s causing a shift in the landscape of sports fans in the city. They’re a team run by an immigrant from Nigeria. A team who’s super fan is known as nothing other than Uncle Nav (if you have a few minutes, read about the greatness that is Nav Bhatia). a team with a roster including players from the United States, Canada, Cameroon, Spain and the Republic of Congo, plus the first Taiwanese-American to play in the NBA finals. Simply put, they’re a team that perfectly encapsulates what Toronto is as a city and what it means to be a Torontonian.
“We’ve always been a melting pot and one of the biggest in the world,” proclaims former national team member and Raptors analyst Sherman Hamilton. “So to see all of the rainbows of colors out here cheering for the team, we’re used to it. And we’re very proud of it.”
People here love the Maple Leafs, but there is a passion for the Raptors that is different and more authentic. There’s a reason the US media is has been so caught off guard by what is happening down at Jurassic Park during this playoff run [The Ringer]. “The spirit is way different,” said former Raptors star Chris Bosh. “Even me being back and seeing how much it means to people here, it’s a little different. The passion and enthusiasm is way different.”
The Raptors aren’t the Leafs - they’re something entirely unique. They legitimately changed the way Canadian children in this city look at sports. You don’t have to look any further than the Denver Nuggets for proof of that. Jamal Murray has helped turn the Nuggets into a contender. A Canadian kid has become the face of a Denver sports franchise that isn’t hockey. That’s all thanks to the Raptors. Murray has spoken in the past about how he is only a professional basketball player because of Vince Carter and the growth of the Raptors in the early 2000s.
My 6-year old daughter loves watching hockey with me but she wants to play basketball. She dribbles her basketball on our walk to school every morning - and that’s because of the Raptors. They’re fun, they’re open and they elicit a feeling in people across Canada that goes beyond sports fandom.
I was eleven years old when the Raptors played their first NBA game. Hockey was the game I grew up playing, the one that had been ingrained in my family, but over the last 24 years I’ve fallen in love with a new team and a new sport. They might not win another game this season and I’m ok with it. I didn’t go into the series expecting the Raptors to win - I still don’t expect it - but for now they are leading 1-0 in the best of seven NBA Finals so I’m going to celebrate it.
Now on to hockey.
The Stanley Cup Final is still underway (even if no one cares about it) and the Blues are going to be short handed as the series shifts to St. Louis. Forward Oskar Sundqvist has been suspended one game for a dangerous hit that sent Matt Grzelcyk into concussion protocol.
Off the ice, we saw a minor transaction as the Minnesota Wild traded for unsigned prospect Fedor Gordeev from the Toronto Maple Leafs. Gordeev was selected in the 5th round of the 2017 entry draft and just finished off a run to the Memorial Cup with the Guelph Storm.
MIN and TOR have a trade for the rights to unsigned junior Fedor Gordeev, who goes back into the draft if not signed before June 1. 7th round pick if he signs in MIN. Which is fully expected to happen.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) May 30, 2019
Shortly after the trade was announce, the Wild signed Gordeev to an ELC meaning the Leafs receive Minny’s 2020 7th round pick to finalize the deal.
Despite suffering through injuries during the early part of his career, Coyotes defender Jakub Chychrun has quickly become a fan favorite in Arizona and a lot of it has to do with his actions away from the ice. An example of that is Chychrun’s work with The New Foundation - an organization that works with Arizona youth who suffer from mental health issues.
What if I told you a defenseman named Nikita Z requested a trade away from his current team? Well that’s exactly what happened yesterday but don’t worry Avs fans, it wasn’t Nikita Zadorov.
After a difficult season, TOR and Nikita Zaitsev are working together to find him a fresh start. He is available and we will see where it goes.— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) May 30, 2019
Zaitsev is a decent 3rd paring RD who was given an absurd contract by Lou Lamoriello a couple seasons ago. He’s making $4.5m a season for the next five years. The Leafs won’t get much (if anything in return) but simply getting the contract off the books would be a huge win.
Alex Turcotte is going to be drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks. It sucks but we’ll have to deal with it.
Alex Turcotte said he grew up a #Blackhawks fan living in the Chicago area. Loves the Jonathan Toews comparisons, and has definitely fantasized about playing in Chicago one day. Has met with the Hawks multiple times so far.— Slavko Bekovic (@SBekovic) May 30, 2019
There’s a very good chance Kirby Dach is going to be a member of the Colorado Avalanche a month from now. It’s time to start embracing it. Last year armchair scouts started to downplay the talents of Brady Tkachuk. “He’s overrated because he’s big” was the common refrain. Now that’s happening with Dach and he’s going to end up making a lot of critics look very silly in a few year.
Kirby Dach pretty fun watch sometimes pic.twitter.com/y19pNwtnMR— AJ Haefele (@AJHaefele) May 30, 2019
Kirby dach: outside of his 14 game slump (3 5v5 pts) ((which should not be discounted)) here is what he did:— Luke (@JCLCommodities) May 31, 2019
48 games 24G 46A 70Pts (1.46ppg)
5v5 20G 21A 41Pts
Over a season
62 games 31G 60A 91Pts
5v5 26G 27A 53Pts
PP/SH 5G 33A 38Pts #NHLDraft
SB Nation Mock Draft
A couple guys the MHH community loves (Krebs and Zegras) went at the end of the top-10:
- New Jersey Devils - Jack Hughes
- New York Rangers - Kaapo Kakko
- Chicago Blackhawks - Alex Turcotte
- Colorado Avalanche - Kirby Dach
- Los Angeles Kings - Dylan Cozens
- Detroit Red Wings - Bowen Byram
- Buffalo Sabres - Cole Caufield
- Edmonton Oilers - Peyton Krebs
- Anaheim Ducks - Trevor Zegras
- Vancouver Canucks - Matthew Boldy