Like many Leafs fans, I have been waiting, somewhat impatiently, for the NHL Draft, which will finally take place this Friday, June 24.
Each day this month, I have been counting down the days to this annual event where teams can make the choices that will define their franchise's future and now it is finally close.
The past few weeks have been filled with silly speculation and rumours, including trade offers from Arizona for the first overall pick, and that the team might choose Patrik Laine over Auston Matthews. Those will finally be put to bed this Friday.
This is likely the most anticipated draft since 2005, when Sidney Crosby was chosen by Pittsburgh first overall. Not only are the Leafs choosing first overall, for the first time since they chose Wendel Clark in 1985, but there are numerous trade rumours circulating because of the fact that expansion is all but confirmed to Las Vegas and teams are preparing their rosters for a future expansion draft.
There are many big names that are being bandied around in trade talks currently, including Marc-Andre Fleury, Steven Stamkos, and any of Edmonton's top players such as Taylor Hall or Jordan Eberle. The Leafs acquired one of those in Frederik Andersen.
Of course, there are also teams that are looking to move up in the draft to grab some of the top talent, including the Calgary Flames.
The Leafs will have to take advantage of the fact that this is a deep draft, and each selection will eventually prove what direction the team's future is heading. Going into the draft, Toronto's talent pool doesn't look too bad, with players such as Mitch Marner, William Nylander, Nikita Soshnikov, Connor Carrick and others. To add to that this year, with a first line centre in Auston Matthews, the timeline will likely move up as to when the Leafs can be a competitive team again.
Leafs fans have not exactly had much to cheer about in the past few seasons, with the team's last playoff action being in 2013; and of course nobody wants to remember the game 7 disaster, in that series. Now, at least management has a chance to continue building the team the right way, by drafting and developing quality prospects, not building like predecessors Brian Burke, John Ferguson Jr. or Cliff Fletcher. Enjoy the 2016 NHL draft fellow fans!
The world lost a legend in boxing late last week when Muhammad Ali died at the age of 74.
Being just 21 years-old, I never experienced any of Ali's victories, but during the recap of his life by television networks there was one quote of his that truly resonated with me. That quote is "He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life."
I believe, if Ali didn't become a fighter, he would likely have become a world-renowned poet or writer, due to the many lines he was able to make famous. However, I found this one most interesting because it fits the mantra with which I have been trying to guide my life.
Avid readers of this column will likely remember, my Jan. 7 piece titled "New Hopes". In it I mentioned one of my personal goals was to stop fear from guiding my decision-making and that I hoped everyone else would attempt the same goal this year. This quote exemplifies that point perfectly.
Ali, formerly Cassius Clay, became known and remembered across the world because he took risks, making him, heavyweight boxer wise, the "greatest of all time." For one thing, he fought and defeated the greatest fighters of his generation. Also, his most memorable risk came in 1967 when he refused to take part in the Vietnam War, a decision that got him banned from boxing for three years. He stood up for his beliefs and was not afraid to act.
Ali's life story goes to show, people can become whoever they want to be, as long as they are prepared to act and willing to think differently. It has long been understood that our actions define who we are and who we become, so everyone has the power to become the person they dream of being.
As a reporter, I see people all the time, making unique decisions for themselves; from saving lives, to helping out others or simply being an inspiration for others because of what they have accomplished. What I'd like us all to remember is, with a little work, we can all become great, become remembered for something.
It was a sad day when the world lost this great fighter, but maybe his words and his actions will inspire people to become the next 'great one 'in their field, to follow their dreams no matter the challenges ahead, or to simply take a leap of faith in their life and make a decision that could change their future.
Is a reporter for The Standard Newspaper, so if you see him, feel free to say hello. You can follow Dan on Twitter at @dancearnsy