When the Detroit Red Wings move to the Eastern Conference next season they will find themselves in familiar, but unfamiliar territory. Some fans remember when the Wings would play against Toronto, Montreal, and Boston back in the original six days, but those days are no more. The new Red Wings and their fans will have to adjust to the new conference and teams.
Michael Amato (MA) from Editor in Leaf was gracious enough to answer a few question about the Leafs, our new conference, and of course the Winter Classic.
What is something Red Wing fans need to know about the Toronto Maple Leafs and their fans?
MA: These are not your older brother’s Leafs. In a strange twist of logic and common sense, management is now starting to cultivate young talent and build for the future. Nazem Kadri, Jake Gardiner, and James van Riemsdyk are some young players that should be the core of this team for years to come. The turnaround of the organization has to be credited to a strong development system down in the AHL, led by head coach Dallas Eakins.
As far as the Leaf fanbase goes, Toronto has been hungry for playoff hockey for nearly 10 years. Fans have long been waiting for a team such as this that has drafted and developed young talent, and has acquired prsopects with plenty of potential. With a real chance for success in the near future, the intensity of an already dedicated group of fans will be amped all the more.
Me: I am convinced these aren’t even the Leafs, but another team playing in their uniforms. How else would someone explain them making the playoffs?
Which Red Wing player are Maple Leafs fans most afraid of playing against next season?
MA: Well it has to be Pavel Datsyuk doesn’t it? His bag of tricks just seems endless and anyone that has a deke named after them is probably someone to keep an eye on. Datsyuk is quickly becoming the Chuck Norris of hockey.
Me: Well they do both knock people down on their butt, just ask Logan Couture.
— Logan Couture (@Logancouture) March 29, 2013
Which player from the Maple Leafs should Red Wing fans fear?
MA: The Red Wings should fear Kadri. He is now up to 44 points and is still just learning the NHL game. His ability to produce with just about anyone on his line and in limited minutes has shown he is ready to take his game to the next level. Kadri has a skill set that can stack up against just about anyone in the league. It won’t be long before Kadri becomes the number one centre on this team.
Me: Nazem Kadri has been an animal this season, but Red Wings fans know a lot about one year wonders, just look at Filppula this season.
The Winter Classic is on next season, by how much do the Red Wings beat the Leafs?
MA: Well since the game is almost eight months away, it’s hard to pick a clear cut favourite just yet. However, I think the Leafs have the edge when it comes to the alumni game, as long as Larry Murphy plays for the Red Wings and Mike Palmateer stands on his head.
Me: You mean the Larry Murphy that won two Stanley Cups with the Red Wings?
Are you planning on heading to the Big House to support the Leafs?
MA: I haven’t decided yet, but I’m leaning towards no. After the fiasco of another lockout, giving the NHL a large sum of money to watch a hockey game in sub-zero temperatures just doesn’t seem right. Although seeing two Original Six teams play in that type of atmosphere would be a once in a lifetime experience.
Me: I understand that, but it is less about the NHL and more about the experience of the game that will be taking me there.
What will it be like to have four of the Original Six teams in the same conference?
MA: Having both Detroit and Toronto in the same division once again is long overdue. Some of my earliest hockey memories date back 20 years ago when the teams would battle it out in the Norris Division. There is a rich history between the two organizations and having them play just once or twice a year simply wasn’t enough.
Add in Montreal and Boston into the mix, and all of a sudden there should be many people feeling very nostalgic about The Original Six. Detroit hasn’t played the Canadiens and Bruins with regularity in many years, but with that being said, it shouldn’t take long for the three squads to reignite old rivalries. It will be especially interesting to see how Boston and Detroit match up since both have been elite teams in the NHL in recent years.
Me: Detroit an Toronto have not meet very often and this move will make the Winter Classic that much more exciting.
A big thank you to Michael over at Editor in Leaf for answering these questions and helping us transition to life in the Eastern Conference. Be sure to check them out and we look forward to seeing you next season in Toronto and at the Big House for The Winter Classic.