One way to avoid getting lost in the “new guy” shuffle is to stick up for your teammate. Maple Leafs defenceman Jake McCabe did exactly that on Saturday, responding to a monstrous Tyler Myers hit on Toronto captain John Tavares.
The tussle between Myers and McCabe was short yet spirited, but the new Toronto blueliner picked up 17 penalty minutes on the play — five for fighting, plus a two-minute instigator and a 10-minute misconduct.
This hit by Tyler Myers on Tavares... 😨 pic.twitter.com/vpzIUp3mD7
— B/R Open Ice (@BR_OpenIce) March 5, 2023
It’s promising that Tavares got out for his next shift. Still, it’s a situation worth watching. As you may remember, he suffered significant, scary injuries from an accidental hit by Corey Perry back in the 2021 postseason. Beyond the hard hit by Myers, Tavares seemed to take some impact when he bumped into Canucks forward Andrei Kuzmenko before he fell to the ice.
McCabe part of a revamped Maple Leafs defence after trade deadline
Saturday marked McCabe's third game as a member of the Maple Leafs after being traded from the Chicago Blackhawks. The underrated defenseman isn’t a frequent fighter, yet he also hasn’t been shy to drop the gloves. Hockey Fights lists eight fights featuring McCabe: six with the Buffalo Sabres, two with Chicago, and now one with the Maple Leafs. This appears to be the 13th fight of Myers’ career.
So far with the Maple Leafs, the 29-year-old has logged more than 20 minutes per outing. McCabe hasn’t generated offense yet, and while Toronto didn’t acquire him to be a fighter, the hope is he’s the sort of player who can take on tough, unglamorous assignments, such as fighting a tree-like foe.
It will be fascinating to see how an already-deep Maple Leafs blue line shakes out with the additions of McCabe, Luke Schenn, and Erik Gustafsson, with Rasmus Sandin being the most notable defenceman who was shipped out.