Wesley Chapel ice rink likely involved in Tampa World Juniors bid

Rending of Florida Hospital Center Ice in Wesley Chapel, Fla.

Rending of Florida Hospital Center Ice in Wesley Chapel, Fla.

Update (9/21/15):

Tampa’s bid for the 2018 World Juniors has been eliminated from contention, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

When you look at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Pittsburgh and HarborCenter in Buffalo, it’s apparent how nice those facilities are, and that they are open. I’m not familiar with any similar type of new, state-of-the-art complexes in St. Louis that would be comparable that could serve as an auxiliary site away from the main arena.

Original:

It appears that the under construction mega iceplex in Wesley Chapel is a key component to Tampa’s IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships bid.

The Tampa Bay Times reported Thursday that Tampa, with the Lightning’s Amalie Arena as host rink, is bidding for the 2018 World Juniors.

The World Juniors actually go from December into January because of the preliminary rounds. So, the 2015 World Juniors in Toronto and Montreal went from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5.

Back in May, Gordie Zimmermann, owner of the newly named Florida Hospital Center Ice, hinted that they’re in the running for a big national event coming in 2017 in the context of tournaments, according to the Tampa Tribune:

“We’re looking at some big tournaments that have been wanting to come to Tampa,” Zimmermann said. “They’ve never come here because there wasn’t an operation big enough to accommodate them. We’ve been approached by several groups that have never come to Florida, and we’re bidding for some national events in 2017.”

The only major hockey events that can rotate sites are the Winter Olympics (ha! In Florida?), NCAA Frozen Four (already held in 2012 and returning in 2016), the IIHF World Hockey Championships (scheduled for Paris and Cologne that year), the reborn NHL’s World Cup of Hockey (the first will be in Toronto in 2016—unlikely Tampa would be selected so soon. ) and the IIHF World Junior Championships.

You can see how signs point to the World Juniors. A practice rink is just as important to these major bids that field so many teams and you’d think the Brandon rink and Amalie Arena would serve as practice sheets when/if needed.

What certainly helps is the Wesley Chapel rink has the only Olympic sheet in Tampa Bay and a bonus—laundry facilities.

Capitalizing on revenue

Ice rinks tend to struggle out of the gate bringing in revenue from tournaments and non-traditional means, but the Wesley Chapel rink is showing it knows what it’s doing with it’s savings account.

The World Juniors is one example. The naming rights, announced in May, are another.

That one has me wondering if there is something larger coming other than World Juniors, which would certainly give the rink’s sponsor brand recognition.

However, having a community ice rink that doesn’t serve as a NHL or major college program practice rink that happens to have naming rights is peculiar.

For now, that’s the case with Florida Hospital Center Ice—an awkward name that works in a weird name.

The rink, 3173 Cypress Ridge Blvd., Wesley Chapel, Fla.,been called the Wesley Chapel Ice Center, via its official URL and the Cypress Creek Ice and Sports Complex.

There’s not a Florida Hospital Center by official names, and that would help the name. So here, they kind of became it.

You know that the rink will be hosting Olympic skaters, curling clubs, tournaments, and is expected to be the home rink for the USF Ice Bulls. The owner, Zimmermann, is the former GM of the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon, which is the back-up practice rink for the Lightning. You’d have to imagine he will do all he can to lure that business to his rink, which despite being further away for some of the players, it will likely have better facilities, better scheduling and will allow the public to watch more of their practices. It would be a lot better for Development and Training camps, too.

When Zimmermann spoke to the Tampa Tribune in May, he said that the naming rights came along thanks to interest in national hockey programs needing homes:

“Florida Hospital Center Ice has attracted the attention of several national programs who are looking to make a home here along with local and statewide programs from a variety of sports,” Zimmermann said.

Both men’s and women’s select teams have found themselves homes in various parts of the country—outside of the National Team Development Program that’s well established in Ann Arbor, Mich. I don’t know enough about these programs to gather why they’d look somewhere else and so far south.

I could see where this would be a longshot because of competition. The Rinks at Harborcenter in Buffalo have opened and of course there’s the Kingsbridge National Ice Center in the Bronx. This mammoth five-acre building is a former armory that will see nine rinks in what could be probably the best looking community ice complex in the world.

That Mark Messier-led project won’t be an immediate threat as construction isn’t supposed to start until sometime in 2016 or after. So, maybe it’s done by 2020.

One last note on the name change

The name change officially happened between March and May, but lost in reporting of the name is that the ice rink opened itself up in February to the neighborhood for the locals to name it:

Because this will be a community based facility, ZMitch and Florida Hospital have announced a community Naming Contest.  Now through March 10, 2015, community members can submit potential names for the facility at http://www.WesleyChapelIceCenter.com.

Shouldn’t we have all seen this coming because the press release was posted on Florida Hospital’s website?

Good for the rink for bringing in this revenue. The public relations roll-out of the name and going back on an advertised naming contest will irk some people but only those who really get their hockey jocks in a bundle.

All that aside, the new renderings released by the ice rink has me itching to fly down and play:

Rending of Florida Hospital Center Ice in Wesley Chapel, Fla.

Rending of Florida Hospital Center Ice in Wesley Chapel, Fla.

Rending of Florida Hospital Center Ice in Wesley Chapel, Fla.

Rending of Florida Hospital Center Ice in Wesley Chapel, Fla.

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Three Florida Ice Rinks For Sale

Ice Factory of Central Florida in Kissimmee is for sale. (Courtesy of Loopnet)

Ice Factory of Central Florida in Kissimmee is for sale. (Courtesy of Loopnet)

Ice rinks being put on the market should not be a reflection of popularity, or a perceived lack thereof, but instead of poor managerial decisions or thinning profits. I lead with that because there are three ice rinks for sale in Florida that can cause critics of SunBelt hockey smile with joy. I don’t see that issue here. Commercial property listing website Loopnet shows the following ice rinks for sale in Florida:

Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex. (Courtesy of Loopnet)

Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex. (Courtesy of Loopnet)

[Update: The Ellenton ice rink has been sold. See my post on the rink’s sale by following this link. I passed the info to the Bradenton Herald to devote more time to fleshing out details, and you can read on its site about the $7 million deal.]

The Ellenton ice rink I know very well and have written about it before. It’s a busy facility, though they could take advantage of late-night weekend hours better. It includes two NHL size sheets of ice, an indoor soccer arena, plenty of locker rooms, a gym and a vacant restaurant space that has everything from chains to local concepts that never succeeded there.

It’s co-owned by the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections (and former State Sen.) Mike Bennett, who also owns the eclectic Linger Lodge in the eastern part of the county. Bennett told me when I worked for the Bradenton Herald that the ice rink is his most profitable business, which to me was always interesting considering the lack of routine maintenance performed there—paint, rebuilding the ice, fixing broken showers and bathroom doors in the lockers, paying for an actual sign. But he did manage to get a giant electronic billboard at the rink to make money off of advertising.

There are Olympic skaters who train there, NHL alums who play here including some in the Hall of Fame and a nice pro-shop. Good people manage the day-to-day operations, and I know they could do more if they were given more resources. It was a tough turnaround anyway because Bennett and co-owner Marv Kaplan saved the rink from being shuttered when it was called the Igloo. They own a parcel across their parking lot to expand with a hotel one day but I don’t see it with this group. They told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune in 2014 that the north rink could be much bigger:

Kaplan said he envisions adding about 6,000 seats to the north hockey rink and bringing in a minor-league hockey team that would play in the East Coast Hockey League.

Bullshit.

Especially now with the rink being put up for sale with a $12.5 million asking price. Even I think that price might be too rich. The two tried to unload this in 2008 unsuccessfully. (They’re also pitching to sale the Linger Lodge now to the state in a weird loophole deal.)

North in Kissimmee, this rink built in 1998 is the Ice Factory of Central Florida. always wanted to play in this rink but never had the chance. According to the listing, there is a NHL regulation rink plus a studio rink, more meant for youth hockey and figure skating.

Courtesy of Loopnet

Ice Factory of Central Florida (Courtesy of Loopnet)

The rink is off of the Florida Turnpike but it’s on the south side of the Orlando metro area between Kissimmee and St. Cloud. In a way, you could tell the developers were betting in a building boom on the south side of Disney and to the east. Instead, most of the activity is to the north of downtown Orlando. The north side, in Winter Garden, is where a new ice rink complex is being built to serve the ECHL Orlando Solar Bears to get them out of the very busy (and very clean/nice) RDV Sportsplex just down the road.

This rink is a better deal at $2.8 million [EDIT: Sometime after this was posted, the price has gone up to $3.8 million]. If someone wants to make this place flourish they will have to find a way to market themselves more to tournaments and camps during all parts of the year to folks up north. It’s a little too far away from Lakeland—60 minutes—to market to figure skaters and youth hockey players looking for more ice time other than an odd pick-up. With the new rink coming north of Orlando, someone managing this rink will have to be creative as well as on top of the books.

The folks already do broomball, speed skating and have a bar to add to profits. Many rinks need to look at utilities and labor costs to see if the current fees and admission prices are appropriate. But beyond that, unique training sessions should be offered—the type of drills and tools you’d see at camps but in smaller, weekly settings—to bring in new revenue.

Courtesy of Loopnet

Former Sunrise Ice Chalet (Courtesy of Loopnet)

Down in the greater Ft. Lauderdale area, a shuttered ice rink is on the block that just by the architecture, I wish I could go in and see this place. Yet I can see that this place probably quickly showed its age.

The Sunrise Ice Chalet has an asking price of $2.4 million. And yes, it does look like a chalet with that Swiss-inspired architecture.

This is one building that I don’t think should or could be brought back as an ice rink at this time.

The rink is just 10 miles from the Florida Panther IceDen in Coral Springs, practice facility of the NHL club playing in Sunrise. That is a newer, much better facility.

Until the Florida Panthers get its act together back in the playoffs and resolve attendance issues, the ice rink situation is what it is in the Ft. Lauderdale market.

Oshie to Caps: It’s a Great Day For America

I’m glad I reserved judgment of the Caps’ moves, or lack thereof, until Thursday.

In consecutive days, the Capitals signed Game Seven Hero Justin Williams and traded for All-American Hero T.J. Oshie. 

I was afraid general manager Brian MacLellan would fall back in a conservative mode like his predecessor and former boss, George McPhee, and be reticent to make major offseason trades, so the young players would replenish the stock with the core.

MacLellan is definitely bold but let’s see what the results are before we proclaim victory.

My concern about the lack of big movement wasn’t solely motivated by what Pittsburgh did bringing in Phil Kessel. But instead looking at what the Tampa Bay Lightning and others did to rectify postseason failure in a hurry.

It’s scary to see how machine-like Yzerman moved through last summer to get rid of deadweight and use the return, even if it was just draft picks, to identify the exact type of player he needed in free agency and trades. The deft hand got the Bolts within two wins of the Stanley Cup.

What helped Yzerman was that the Bolts were swept out of the first round the previous season. Despite the close games on the scoresheet, it was clear what he needed and went out and got it. (Except a healthy goalie all the time when Ben Bishop’s groin broke down at the worst time.)

For whatever reason, the Caps convinced no matter what, they were only just one or two players away.

Smart general managers know they can’t buy their way into the Stanley Cup via free agency. They need to draft, develop and have smart trades. Sure, a couple free agents help in the process.

For whatever reason, changing the core with the Caps has taken longer.

At the same time, we all wish that giddy feeling when in 2009 Sergei Fedorov scored the GWG in a Game 7 against the Rangers would last forever, especially into the next round against the Penguins.

The last time the Caps were swept out of the playoffs, by the Lightning no less in the second round, was in 2011.

Here’s what McPhee did:

  • Traded for Troy Brouwer
  • Signed prospect Mattias Sjogren, who didn’t pan out and didn’t want to play in the AHL to get to the Caps
  • Signed Jeff Halpern after being away from the club for years
  • Traded Varlamov for picks, which one of them ended up being Filip Forsberg
  • Signed Joel Ward
  • Signed Roman Hamrlik
  • Signed Tomas Vokoun
  • Traded Eric Fehr to Winnipeg for prospects who haven’t panned out
  • Acquired depth defenseman Tomas Kundratek, who was useful for a season.

So that year after bringing in Marco Sturm, Scott Hannan, Dennis Wideman and Jason Arnott—all veterans needed on a young team—it didn’t cut it.

McPhee went out and got a young player with a Cup ring for the young core to relate to, a faceoff specialist for the bottom six, a clutch playoff performer, a stay-at home defenseman to counter having Green and Carlson and another veteran goaltender to continue the carousel.

All of those types of players were what the Caps needed but it’s clear that McPhee didn’t go out and be aggressive enough to get the best players available that fit that mold. You’d think by that time his reputation with player agents and some GMs caused issues with acquiring players either via trade, even if they had to waive a NMC, or by free agency.

This all would lead to Bruce Boudreau being fired the following season and by then, there should have been turnover of the core, core and not the outer fringe of the core.

Alex Semin, Mathieu Perreault, Mike Green and Michal Neuvirth would all eventually part and all without any significant return. Two of those players lost to free agency. Perreault let go for a minor leaguer and a pick and Neuvy brought back a shaky Jaroslav Halak, who didn’t even get the Caps to the playoffs.

After Hunter got the Caps into the playoffs for two rounds, Adam Oates came in and salvaged a poor start to get the Caps into another seven-game defeat with Mike Ribeiro, Wojtek Wolski, Aaron Volpatti, Steven Olesky…and Martin Erat for the ride. Sigh.

In came Mikhail Grabovski, who was pretty good for the Caps, then deadline acquisitions Halak and Dustin Penner and an Oates disciple in Alex Urbom…who definitely er… bombed. That all exploded the careers of Oates and McPhee.

MacLellan has so far, made moves getting the Caps back to the right direction. He can’t do everything as GM and certainly can’t undo everything in his first season. It look awhile for Yzerman to undo his previous regime’s mess, but that included having to stockpile picks. Once he had those picks he could wheel and deal hard.

MacLellan’s moves to get the Caps at least back in the playoffs brought both Brooks Orpik, Matt Niskanen at a steep price but absolutely the right players. Taking Justin Peters as a back-up was a sacrificial lamb having to pick someone who was OK to not play so Holtby can get his game on track. It worked. Worked so well that Philip Grubauer had to spell Holtby in the playoffs because it was ages since Peters played any game.

As for Tim Gleason and Curtis Glencross…I’d give a B for Gleason and a D for Glencross.

GMBM: Year Two

Now what we’re looking at is Year Two GMBM Retool.

There’s enough turnover here saying goodbye to Joel Ward, Eric Fehr and Mike Green combined with the other players the Caps parted ways with from the former Young Guns Gang where he has to see what he has now.

He upgraded in the Playoff Clutch Scorer Category.

In Oshie, he’s great in the shootout but that doesn’t count in the playoffs. Can this finally be the winger we’ve always wanted? Can he reach that ceiling that everyone expected him to hit?

Evgeny Kuznetsov, drafted by McPhee, is finally on the team full-time and showed in the playoffs he can be a No. 2 center. Can that be sustained?

Can Burakovsky be a dominant Top Six forward that can finesse? It looks like it.

Can Tom Wilson be a Top Six Forward—the next Milan Lucic? He’s got until the trade deadline to figure it out. Right now he’s the Caps’ Brett Connolly.

Can Brooks Laich finally not put so much pressure on himself and perform? Hopefully, because we need him to be healthy enough to trade him. I don’t expect a good return on him, but at least a pick to help clear space for a bigger move.

Is Braden Holtby the franchise goalie for the Capitals? Will the Capitals be good enough for him to not play 70 games so he can rest for the playoffs?

Is Justin Williams going to be a better Mike Knuble and sustain production beyond his first season here?

Here’s what I see shaking out in the season ahead:

  • Tom Wilson is traded for a veteran bottom-six winger who has more offensive upside.
  • Justin Peters is waived before the start of the season and is either claimed or buried in the minors
  • Brooks Laich is traded to Anaheim or Los Angeles for a pick or prospect since he won’t command more thanks to his health and declining production
  • Justin Chimera will have a rebound season and be kept in Washington for his seventh season here.

Back to Brouwer, Brooks

When McPhee brought on Brouwer, everyone was excited because the team was getting a young player from the Stanley Cup champ Blackhawks. I was pumped, too, because sending a first-round pick must have meant there was a high ceiling for a player who was drafted in the sixth round.

Brouwer played well, setting career highs in Washington, but everyone thought he’d get more than 43 points. Nobody thought he’d be so healthy as to play all but one eligible game for the Caps in his four seasons.

But he became duplicative with Brooks Laich, who came up with the Bears and was still part of that core. Didn’t matter he started with the Ottawa Senators—he barely got a sniff with them before we traded Peter Bondra for him. (Funny because Blues GM Doug Armstrong said Oshie duplicated other players on his roster.)

You’d think Brooks Laich would be the better one to trade with a higher cap hit, declining results and diminishing returns in the post season. You’re not going to get good value for that in return if you want to compete, and interested teams would be wary of Laich’s rash of injuries over the last few seasons.

Instead, you load up and give up the player who makes less, plays all 82 games, contributes much more than Laich on the PP over the last few seasons.

And how can you not forget the beauty of a goal Brouwer scored in the Winter Classic this year?

If we’re comparing the past, well, Oshie isn’t all that much different on straight stats and advanced stats. Biggest difference is Oshie gets more shots to the net, unblocked, and Brouwer is better on the PK. Even that is slight.

Here, the expectations of the guy coming in are even higher. Oshie never played with guys with skill of Backstrom, Ovechkin, Kuznetzov and Burakovsky. The only player coming close to that group is Vladamir Tarasenko, who Oshie hardly played with.

Pheonix Copley shouldn’t be lost in this, but he’s expendable after the Caps selected the best available goalie in the draft. He surprised a lot of people when had to be relied on in Hershey making him wanted in St. Louis where they’re still searching for a franchise goalie.

 

For what it’s worth

After the Lightning was bounced out of the first round in 2014—after not making the post-season the year before—here’s what Yzerman did last summer:

  • Acquired Jason Garrison and rights to prospect Jeff Costello for picks
  • Traded Teddy Purcell to Edmonton for Sam Gagner, flipped Gagne for a sixth-round pick while shipping out B.J. Crombeen to clear salary and contract counts
  • Traded Nate Thompson to Anaheim for fourth- and seventh-round picks in another salary dump and to clear contracts to do the following:
  • Signed Brian Boyle, Anton Stralman,Brenden Morrow and Evgeni Nabokov—the last two to one-year deals
  • Bought out Ryan Malone following his cocaine arrest and trial

Then to round-out the team:

  • Waived Richard Panik following opening night
  • Traded Eric Brewer for a pick
  • Traded once heralded prospect Brett Connelly to Boston for picks
  • Traded promising defenseman Radko Gudas for Brayden Coburn
  • Forced Nabokov into retirement

That’s how you shake up your core, shed salary and use prospects and young stars wisely thanks to a well-stocked system of even younger players waiting for a roster spot. And all of that was after saying goodbye to Marty St. Louis and previously, Vincent Lecavalier.

I don’t think anyone can mirror the Blackhawks no matter how hard they try. It takes a lot of luck with loaded contracts panning out into championships paired with incredibly smart amateur and pro scouting.

It’s been Kane, Toews, Hossa, Sharp, Seabrook, Keith and anyone else along for the ride for at least two of the three Cups.

Final Thought

When we’re talking teams in the Stanley Cup Finals—win or lose—are we ready to say this group of defenseman, without Mike Green now, is better? Or is worthy of a Stanley Cup Finals appearance?

Right now it’s floating somewhere in between the 2012 New Jersey Devils, 2011 Vancouver Canucks, 2008 Pittsburgh Penguins and 2013 Boston Bruins. The Flyers, Rangers and Lightning all had better bluelines that still lost out.

Without any changes you have Brooks Orpik, Matt Niskanen, John Carlson, Karl Alzner, hopefully a health Dimitri Orlov and Taylor Chorney with Connor Carrick and Sean Collins filling in when necessary. Hell, we may even have a Christian Djoos sighting.

A healthy Orlov could have made Green expendable earlier in his career. Now, I don’t even remember how the guy plays and don’t know if he still has it. I sure hope Orlov does.

At least in that Top 4, do you equate them with Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith, Doughty, Victor Hedman, Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi, Zdeno Chara and yes, even Andrew Ference who’s had three SCF appearances?

Not until they get to the finals.

 

Leafs were sick and tired of Steve Simmons

I’m sure everyone would agree that this piece by Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun was, uh, harsh on Phil Kessel. You would have thought that the guy got caught with prescription drugs at the border or something, but instead it’s fat shaming for a guy who’s a hell of lot fitter than any of us and a guy whining why can’t you score 60 goals! But it’s a much enjoyable read when you replace every Phil Kessel reference with Steve Simmons’ name (and a couple minor adjustments for player to writer references). h/t to Japers Rink for the link to the hit piece of the year.

And here we go:

Leafs were sick and tired of Steve Simmons

By Steve Simmons

The hot dog vendor who parks daily at Front and John Sts. just lost his most reliable customer.

Almost every afternoon at 2:30 p.m., often wearing a toque, Steve Simmons would wander from his neighbourhood condominium to consume his daily snack.

And now he’s gone. Just like that. The Maple Leafs could no longer stomach having Simmons around, the first player to be both punished and rewarded for the saddest Leafs season in history. The Leafs held their breath, plugged their noses, and ostensibly gave Simmons to The Onion because they couldn’t stand having him around anymore.

Really, this was as much about illness and insomnia as anything else: The Leafs were sick and tired of Simmons.

Sick of his act. Tired of his lack of responsibility. Unwilling to begin any reset or rebuild with their highest-paid, most talented, least-dedicated player. He didn’t eat right, train right, play right. This had to happen for Brendan Shanahan to begin his rebuilding of the Leafs. Separation between the Leafs and Simmons became necessary when it grew more and more apparent with time that everything Shanahan values was upended by Simmons’ singular, laissez-faire, flippant, mostly uncoachable ways.

It doesn’t matter that the Leafs didn’t get much for Simmons. It doesn’t matter that the writers they received for Simmons are probably named “if” and “but,” and the interns won’t translate into anything before 2019. None of that matters as coach Mike Babcock begins his new era of hope in September.

What matters is that Simmons is gone. That who he is, what he represents, what he isn’t, had to be removed from the ice, from the dressing room, from the road, from the restaurants — from everywhere. They couldn’t have him around anymore and be honest about the direction they intend to pursue. Everything they believe in for the future is almost everything Simmons has proven to be lacking in.

A Leafs front-office voice recently spoke about the two largest influences on any player. One comes from the coach. The other comes from the player who sits beside you on the bench. Those are the voices you hear most often.

For Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk, that voice belonged to Simmons.

If the voice is negative, critical, disruptive, condescending of players, critical of coaches, critical of fans, then that impacts more than just the player doing the talking. It poisons the environment. It brings players down. It cuts into their effectiveness. It establishes the kind of mood no team wants.

The right kind of leadership can make a team greater. The wrong kind can destroy it.

The second-half Leafs were the most destroyed team in Toronto history. The flag carrier of despair was Simmons. He wrote like he didn’t care, insulted the jersey, the paying public, the people watching at home, the interim coaching staff. He wasn’t alone.

But he was the only one making $80,000 a year. He was the only one truly entrusted to make an offensive difference. He was the only one who seemed to take people down with him.

When Dave Nonis was fired, when the Leafs scouting staff was fired, when the coaches were fired, it finally turned to the players. Simmons was the first to go. He won’t be the last. But sending him packing first was necessary. The message was necessary. The tone was necessary. This won’t be tolerated any longer.

Even if this is a Vince Carter-type of trade — the kind that may bring next to nothing in return. Carter quit on the Raptors. In a different kind of way, Simmons quit on the Leafs before they quit on him.

Kasperi Kapanen is a Leaf now. His stock has been dropping since Pittsburgh used a first-round pick to select him. Some people consider him a future third-liner, if he has a future in the NHL at all.

Scott Harrington is a Leaf now. He played four years for Mark Hunter’s London Knights. When they couldn’t come away with one of the Penguins’ better defensive prospects, they settled on the competitive Harrington. He is an AHL skater, scouts tell me. Maybe he’ll play in the NHL. Maybe not.

The best part of the deal is the lottery-protected first-round pick for next June’s draft. It’s nice to have that kind of pick going forward. But expect a choice between 20 and 30. That’s a long shot. Maybe three years away. Maybe more.

And you have to figure Simmons is good to write 40 inches or more reporting alongside either Bob Errey or Rob Rossi in Pittsburgh. And, still, this is a deal the Leafs had to make. A deal that was necessary.

They had to move Simmons out. They had to have him off the roster by the time Babcock begins training camp in September. You can’t have him half-assing skating drills with a team trying to learn how to work. You can’t have him being first off the ice with a team pushing to reach Babcock’s lofty goals. When you have an illness, you must get rid of the poison.

The Leafs did that on Wednesday. They treated their own infection — the Penguins playing the part of antibiotic. It doesn’t matter what they got for Simmons. What matters is he’s gone.