2022-11-27 · 5 min read · NHL/Hockey
Toronto Maple Leafs Borje Salming and Jordie Benn

CityNews | John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back for this week’s What da Puck, I hope you’ve been enjoying this week’s hockey as much as I have.
1. Borje Salming passed away Thursday following a battle with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) at the age of 71. Let's take a moment to appreciate a true pioneer of the game. Salming started out by having an outstanding junior career in his native Sweden, soon after the Maple Leafs decided to take a chance on him after watching him play in exhibition games against Canadian junior teams. He went on to have a respectable rookie season in the 1973-74 campaign, tallying 39 points in 76 games, establishing himself as a hard-nosed physical player who was far from out of place in the NHL. By the end of his 17th season career Salming was known as a true two-way talent and considered one of the best shot blockers of all time. He finished his legendary career with 787 points (150 goals) in 1,148 regular-season games betweem Toronto and the Detroit Red Wings. Salming also put up 49 points (12 goals, 37 assists) in 81 Stanley Cup Playoff games. He was the runner-up for the Norris twice and made six all star teams (one first, five second). His trophy case didn't stop there as he also won the Viking Award three times as the top Swedish player in the NHL, chosen by a poll of players from his own country. Just the other week saw him honoured in Toronto during the 2022 Hockey Hall of Fame induction. Prior to a 3-2 win against the Canucks the Maple Leafs played a video tribute to him, before Salming dropped the puck for the ceremonial face-off between fellow Sweden natives William Nylander and Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Then the Leafs put out an all Swedish starting lineup for the first time in its long history to honour him. This makes plenty of sense when you consider Salming owns nearly every franchise record for Maple Leafs defenseman, including goals (148), assists (620) and points (768). He was also named one of the top 10 players in Leaf history in 2016 and selected as one of the 100 greatest NHL players during the league centennial celebration. In 1996 he became the first European trained skater inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, truly a trailblazer in the game of hockey and a man who will surely be missed but never forgotten.
2. Speaking of Leafs defenseman, their blue line is having truly rough times. Jordie Benn has been added to the list of defenseman out with injuries, joining a bevy of high-quality names such as Morgan Rielly, TJ Brodie and Jake Muzzin. Brodie is on the long-term injured reserve list (LTIR), it has been mentioned that the rehab has not been progressing well. Now Morgan Riley is on the LTIR as well, meaning he will miss at least 10 games or 24 days. Muzzin was sidelined on October 17th with what is now being disclosed as a back injury, and has been slated to be re-evaluated in February. The Muzzin injury is incredibly concerning as there's talk his injury could be the reason his career ends, sadly not on his terms; not the way you want to see a beloved veteran leave the game. Benn meanwhile is considered week-to-week and will be placed on the injured reserve list with an upper-body injury, head coach Sheldon Keefe announced Thursday. In response both Victor Mete and Mac Hollowell were recalled from the Marlies, with Hollowell making his NHL debut against the Devils on Wednesday. On top of this the Leafs made a move to acquire some D line depth, picking up Connor Timmons from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for Curtis Douglas, a six-foot-nine centre. The 24 year-old blueliner has appeared in two games so far this season for the Yotes, sporting a total of 7 assists in 33 career games over four seasons. The former Sault Ste. Marie Greyhound product checks several boxes for the Maple Leafs, as he is a good shot blocker, can eat up penalty kill minutes, he’s physical, shoots right-handed, and can move the puck well. Furthermore, he comes from the Greyhounds stables in the Ontario Hockey League, which seems to be a favourite of general manager Kyle Dubas. However, it seems likely more will need to be done and all eyes are on Dubas in what increasingly feels like a make-or-break year for him.
3. A handful of notable milestones were hit this week, including Cal Clutterbuck becoming the NHLs all-time hits leader with 3,635; a record he broke Monday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Dustin Brown, who retired from the Kings after last season, had the prior record with 3,632. While impressive, it is important to note the NHL has only kept track of this stat since the 2005-06 season. Bruins Legend Patrice Bergeron tallied his 1,000th career point Monday night. Bergie assisted on Brad Marchand's second-period goal to reach the thousand-point mark, after which the entire Bruins bench emptied out onto the ice to congratulate their captain. Bergeron, who became the fourth Bruins player to score 1,000 points, truly appreciated his teammates' gesture. "That was probably the most special thing about it, to have all the guys jump on me and share that with them," Bergeron told reporters after the game. Speaking of 1000, Penguins legend Evgeni Malkin played his 1,000th career game this week. Malkin became only the second Penguin to reach 1,000 career games; he is third in their history with 1,166 points, behind only Mario Lemieux and Sidney Crosby. Malkin's 1,166 points are the 15th most by a player through his first 1,000 games; he is the 373rd NHL player, and 32nd active, to play 1,000. Lastly but perhaps most impressively Cale Makar became the fastest defenseman to score 200 points, becoming the first to do it in less than 200 games (195). Sergei Zubov who took 207 games to get there held the previous mark. Of setting the record Makar said, “It doesn’t really mean a lot individually, I think this is more of a team thing. I don’t get to that point without these guys.” Very humble response from a guy many would call one of if not the best defenseman in the game despite his youth; I'm very excited to see where his career goes from here.
Quick Wristers
  • The Bruins made history Friday, when they bested the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in overtime at TD Garden. Boston has won 12 straight games at home to start the season, which bested the previous longest streak in NHL history with the 63-64 Chicago Blackhawks and the 21-22 for the Panthers both making it to 11. Boston who now is 18-3-0 on the season, currently rank first in the NHL in goals for (4.05), goals against (2.25) per game and SRS (1.61). The B’s also sit second on the penalty kill (84.3 %), and third on the power play (29.2)%; a very impressive start.
  • Ryan Reaves was traded to the Minnesota Wild from the New York Rangers on Wednesday for a 5th round pick in the 2025 NHL Draft. The 35-year-old forward has no points and 12 penalty minutes in 12 games this season and was a healthy scratch in seven of the past eight games for the Rangers. Reaves reportedly requested a trade before a 5-3 win against the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday. The former fifth-round pick in the ‘05 draft is mostly known as a fan favourite who provides physicality and grit to a team's roster.
  • The Buffalo Sabres introduced their new third jerseys this Wednesday and oh boy do the black and red look good. Wearing the new "Goathead" third jerseys seemed to benefit Buffalo as they pulled out a 6-2 win against the St. Louis Blues, including a tally 18 seconds into the game. The Sabres will next be back in the black and red on December 4 against the Sharks.
Highlight of the week
I couldn't decide between two incredible plays for this week's highlight and I have a feeling you will enjoy them both.
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