(Hello, and welcome to the Weekly Reader, which will run every Saturday and collect news and views from around the hockey world on the week's biggest stories. Seen something worth highlighting here? Hit me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or do the same if you have suggestions for the column going forward. Enjoy!)
Auston Matthews credit watch
Say, have you heard of this "Auston Matthews?"
Plucky American kid, won the rookie of the year award last season, trying to get the Toronto Maple Leafs their first Stanley Cup since The Beatles released "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" and has scored almost as many goals in 89 career games (46) as Connor McDavid has in 132 games (49)?
If it seems like this "Auston Matthews" is rather well-known and lauded by the hockey community, that's because he is. Which is why this investigation from our friends at TSN has become the season's first full-fledged meme:
"Is Matthews getting the credit he deserves?"
The answer is, "YES OF COURSE HE IS, WHY IS THIS EVEN A QUESTION?" But there have been many other reactions to this peculiar query, and not just Edmonton Oilers fans causing a brief tremor via their simultaneous eye-roll at the Toronto-centric media.
In other Auston Matthews takes, please check out the "do the Leafs get too much coverage?" section from Down Goes Brown on Vice Sports and an interesting piece about Matthews' perceived lack of personality from Jeff Veillette.
The new wagering odds for the 2018 Stanley Cup champion were released on Friday, and they are notable for two reasons: The first is that the Leafs, who never get any credit, much like their star player, are the odds-on favorite to win the Cup, at 8-to-1; and the second is that the juggernaut Vegas Golden Knights are at 33-to-1 to win the Cup in their inaugural season, which means they have better odds than 11 other teams and the same odds as the Boston Bruins and San Jose Sharks.
So there's a 33-to-1 chance that we're getting a Stanley Cup parade with Carrot Top. What's not to love?
Brad Marchand is funny
Bruins star Brad Marchand is one of the more reliable tweeters among NHL players, in the sense that he's demonstrably funny and seems to write them on his own, even if people probably think they're being propped up by Patrice Bergeron.
An example of the Twitter Marchand: When he became the first person in hockey to give Auston Matthews the credit he deserves, writing:
At what point do that @MapleLeafs have to start playing Matthews 1 vs 5 to make it fair for other teams??
— Brad Marchand (@Bmarch63) October 20, 2017
But the best comedy is self-deprecating comedy. So a round of applause for Brad Marchand tweeting the "Brad Marchand Video Game Controller":
Anyone want to play some NHL? pic.twitter.com/wdHUg2Eps6
— Brad Marchand (@Bmarch63) October 20, 2017
What a beauty.
NHL apologizes for blown call
The coach's challenge system is ultimately a good thing, righting the wrongs and correcting the human errors that are inherent in on-ice officiating. But offering a check and balance on officiating only works if a bad call isn't reinforced by an even worse misinterpretation of the rules.
Such was the debacle in Denver on Thursday night.
The St. Louis Blues were leading the Colorado Avalanche late in the third period, 4-3, when Nikita Zadorov intercepted the puck in the neutral zone, fed it to Sven Andrighetto, who then passed it across the Blues zone to a wide-open Mikko Rantanen for a one-timer to tie the game with 2:35 left in regulation. (Watch it here.)
Why was he wide open? Because the Blues stopped playing since the play was completely offside: Andrighetto was in the attacking zone when he took the pass from Zadorov; he then skated the puck out, skated back in and made the play.
Therein lies the problem: Goals can only be reviewed for a potential offside under certain circumstances. One of them, according to the NHL rulebook, is that "the puck does not come out of the attacking zone again." Which it very much did, negating the chance to review it.
So the refs blew the call and the review. The NHL sort of apologized for this on Friday. Tom Hunter of Mile High Hockey had a great breakdown of the play and the rule. As Adrian Dater of BSN Denver notes, as much grief as the officials should take for this, how did no one in the Avalanche organization crack open the rule book for clarification during the review? It meant the difference between a 4-3 loss and at least a point in the standings.
Hockey remembers Gord Downie
The death of Gord Downie of The Tragically Hip, aka the unofficial poet laureate of Canada, resonated throughout the hockey world.
The Athletic went into the Toronto locker room for reaction and found a slew of tributes. Dion Phaneuf of the Ottawa Senators spoke candidly about his personal relationship with Downie with the Ottawa Sun. A Bill Barilko hockey card signed by The Tragically Hip -- the card that inspired the band's classic "50 Mission Cap" -- is being auctioned for charity on eBay. James Duthie really captures the moment for TSN: "Gord Downie was Canada's poet, Canada's conscience, Canada's soundtrack -- the author of our national anthems, to be sung full-lung on the dock with beer in hand, forever." Finally, Tim Thompson, the master of montages from "Hockey Night In Canada," created a film in Downie's honor on Facebook.
Hockey tl;dr (too long; didn't read)
A remarkable tale from Michael Russo of The Athletic, on a Minnesota hockey player who used Reddit to build a team to play games in North Korea.
In case you missed this from your friends at ESPN
Emily Kaplan's awesome Now and Later rankings, asking NHL players to name their best players and teams now and in four years.