It’s on the Maple Leafs’ stars to lead, and past due that the effort matched …

first_img Auston Matthews Maple Leafs Mike Babcock 2 A few weeks ago — the morning of the Maple Leafs’ second home game, to be precise — coach Mike Babcock discussed the importance of depth on the roster.“The more depth you have and the deeper you are down your lineup and the more people you can roll out night after night, you can win night after night,” Babcock said on Oct. 5, hours before the Leafs played host to the Montreal Canadiens and lost in a shootout. “If you only have a few stars, you can’t win night after night. Now they get points, but you go home disappointed a lot. You need team depth.”We can presume that Babcock figured then that his stars, specifically Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, captain John Tavares, William Nylander and defenceman Morgan Rielly, would shine. Ditto for those who occupy the next level, including Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson.Through 11 games, most of this group has recorded the points Babcock was talking about. Marner has 12 points. Matthews and Rielly have 11, and Matthews’ eight goals were third-most in the National Hockey League prior to games on Wednesday.It’s all a bit hollow though, eh?The Leafs head into a home game against the San Jose Sharks (with whom Patrick Marleau is making a difference, ironically, after not doing that for Toronto last season) on Friday night with a mediocre record of 5-4-2.Story continues belowThis advertisement has not loaded yet,but your article continues below.Of those losses, four have been by one goal, including the shootout loss to the Canadiens and the fall in overtime against Columbus on Monday.The Leafs haven’t been held back in the win column because they lack depth. They have plenty of solid role players. No one who has watched Toronto through the first three weeks would argue that players such as Alex Kerfoot, Ilya Mikheyev, Trevor Moore, Frederik Gauthier and Dmytro Timashov have mailed in many shifts.Some of what Babcock says has the tendency to drive segments of Leafs Nation up the wall — such as insisting after the loss in Boston that he liked the team’s effort — and with each loss, there is increased braying for his firing.But when Babcock said in Boston that the Leafs’ dominant players have to be the dominant players, those in the group of reporters nodded in agreement.The Leafs haven’t been getting that kind of consistency from players such as Marner, the highest-paid performer in the NHL this season with a salary of $16-million US, or from Matthews, tied with Tavares for  the second-highest paid at $15.9-million.There shouldn’t be any extra motivation when the money is rolling in at the age of 22, like it is for Marner and Matthews. As much as it’s on Babcock to get the most out of a roster that has an abundance of talent, there’s absolutely no reason for Marner and Matthews to not be completely invested every time they go over the boards.The absences of Zach Hyman and Travis Dermott to injury have hurt, and losing Tavares for a stretch is painful.Hyman is vital with Tavares and Marner, leaving a hole that has not been properly filled. With Dermott out, the Leafs have had an unsettled third pair, not that the top four of Rielly-Cody Ceci and Jake Muzzin-Tyson Barrie has been spectacular.We understand that a team that has as many new players as the Leafs will take some time to learn who fits best where, etc.This is a club that could help itself immediately, however, with full determination every time the puck is dropped.That starts with the Leafs’ stars.It’s great that Matthews, who has spoken more like a captain this season than he has in his previous three years in the NHL, said on Tuesday night that everyone, including himself, has to be better.Go do it, then. Back up the words.If the work matches the talent, Babcock just might see the season through.SUPPORT FOR HUTCHINSON HAS BEEN LACKINGMichael Hutchinson hasn’t been getting much help from his Maple Leafs teammates.The Leafs’ backup goalie has faced an average of 37.7 shots a game in his three starts, while No. 1 netminder Frederik Andersen has faced an average of 31.6 shots a game in his eight starts.Granted, each time Hutchinson has started has come in the second game of back-to-back sets, but that shouldn’t be used as an excuse for the discrepancy.While the Leafs mostly have lauded Hutchinson’s play when he has been in the crease — against the Boston Bruins on Tuesday, Hutchinson had to make several difficult saves — the 29-year-old, like the rest of the men wearing the Leafs’ colours, has to be better.A save percentage of .890, which Hutchinson sports, isn’t good enough. Not that Andersen has sparkled, posting a save percentage of .901.A gaffe on Hutchinson’s part helped lead to the second Bruins goal in a 4-2 Toronto loss, and afterward, the goalie acknowledged the tests that come in playing with new Leafs defencemen.“It’s always a bit of a challenge at the start of the year,” Hutchinson said. “(We’re) continuing to work on it and communicate off the ice, after games, in between stoppages, trying to sort it out as quickly as possible.”Coach Mike Babcock put his support behind Hutchinson (0-2-1) on Tuesday night.“We needed to get another (goal) for him,” Babcock said. “It’s unfortunate that we haven’t been able to help him get a win. He’s been in a situation with these back-to-back (games), we haven’t given him a real good opportunity.” center_img Comments Share your thoughtslast_img read more

Tamil Nadu awaits clearance to salvage 36 trawlers in Sri Lanka

The operation should have begun on September 10 but was delayed for want of clearance, the sources said. The State government had also sanctioned about Rs. 20 lakh for salvage operation – towards fuel and repair costs and ration for the salvage team members.A sum of Rs. 15,000 had been offered for each mechanised boat and Rs. 10,000 for each country boat for repair work, they said. Based on the report submitted by the team, the State government prepared a list of salvage team members to bring back 36 boats – 11 belonging to Rameswaram fishermen, 24 to Nagapattinam fishermen and one owned by Pudukottai fishermen. The Tamil Nadu Government is awaiting clearance from the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to salvage 36 trawlers impounded by the Sri Lankan Navy in March 2015 and ordered to be released by the Government of the island nation last month, The Hindu newspaper reported.After the Sri Lankan Government ordered the release of 42 boats – 36 belonging to Tamil Nadu fishermen and six to Karaikal fishermen – a seven-member team, led by G. S. Sameeran, Additional Director of Fisheries, inspected the condition of the trawlers from August 17 to 20 and decided to salvage them. Immediately, the Fisheries department prepared a list of 36 boats, 242 fishermen and technical persons to tow the boats back to shore and sent the proposal to the MEA, official sources said. The first batch of 15 boats, 93 fishermen and technical persons would leave immediately after getting clearance from the MEA.The second batch of 21 boats, 149 fishermen and technicians would leave after three days, they said.A three-member official team, led by the Deputy Director of Fisheries, would accompany them. The ICG had been asked to be in a state of readiness, they said. The Puducherry government would send a separate team to salvage the six boats from the Union Territory, the sources added. The boats have been berthed in Kankesanthurai, Karainagar, Mannar and Trincomallee in northern Sri Lanka and Puthalam in the west. (Colombo Gazette) Indian Coast Guard (ICG) would escort the teams up to International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) and hand them over to the Sri Lankan Navy to be escorted to the ports. read more