Merry Christmas! The mailbag is back after a few weeks of hiatus. For all intents and purposes, I’m hoping to be back after a few weeks of semi-hiatus; I’ve been a bit negligent of this spot while bouncing up and down with some personal stuff, but I think things are at the stage where devoting more time to writing is going to help more than devoting no time.

Enough about that, though. I’ve got a Christmas lunch ahead of me and some time to kill before it starts, so let’s dig into some questions:

This is a tough one (Mr. Offside has confirmed that he meant an ascot tie, not an ascot cap). It’s easy to look to a veteran to throw it back just because they’d know what the items are, but also Toronto’s vets seem to be the types that you’d imagine go into dad clothes the second they’re away from the rink.

I think I’m feeling Frederik Andersen on this one. He usually dresses pretty well, he’s not quite a kid, and it just feels like a fashion decision that would come out of someone who has lived their life in Denmark, Sweden, Virginia, California, and Toronto.

This is tough. On one hand, you take a guaranteed cup over the chance of one every time.

On the other hand, you vindicate Nonis and Carlyle for poor roster building, you don’t really get to reward the most deserving players any more than they’ve been rewarded (Phil got his ring, the MGK line were stashed in purgatory by that point, etc), and the hole that gets dug afterwards probably gets dug for even longer, meaning you miss out on the entire “Big Three”, instead of just Matthews.

Also, ending the drought in 2013 would lead to as many asterisk jokes as there are 1967 jokes, especially if the Leafs go back to trash afterwards.

I think I’m fine with letting Game 7 ride. It was a traumatic 15 minutes but it was really the best thing for the team.

Auston Matthews. Not even a question. I’m assuming there’s a degree of shyness involved like he’s intentionally covering his face to hide from the cameras rather than genuinely believing hats are supposed to be worn “that way”.

But it’s still a little annoying. Not enough to legitimately get frustrated about, but the odd eye roll comes into play.

Assuming no external adds, I’d be happy with Auston Matthews, Nazem Kadri, William Nylander, and Miro Aaltonen. Granted, this implies that Aaltonen will be happy to resign after coming from the KHL only to get placed on the Marlies, with no real reasoning beyond “too many guys, sorry”. It also implies that William Nylander will be granted his conversion to centre, which Mike Babcock recently said could be a while away still.

I try not to think too much about the UFA market in a case like this. People are losing their minds about John Tavares, but I don’t think he leaves Long Island, and I definitely don’t think he does so to come to Toronto. Mikael Backlund would be a dope addition, but who knows if Toronto can swing that. Joe Thornton coming over a year later than gossiped to join Patrick Marleau for the ride would be cool too, but we’ll see what his conditioning is like at that point.

Also, knowing our luck, we’ll all say “we really want the Leafs to invest in a UFA centre” and they’ll walk away with someone like Colton Sceviour, Kyle Brodziak or Antoine Vermette’s corpse. Or hey, think Daniel Winnik will do a third tour of duty?

The rules that most fans will give: Get a current player on your current jersey. Don’t deviate from that at all. No former players on a jersey, don’t get yourself, no funny jokes, be normal.

The rule that I tend to lean towards: Don’t get a knockoff. Yes, they’re cheaper, but they’re of substantially lower quality, very noticeable, and it’s not hard to find last year’s Reebok jerseys or even this year’s Adidas sweaters on decent sale prices.

The rule that you need to worry about: Wear what you’re most comfortable with. You’re buying a sweater for yourself, for your own enjoyment, and not to get the approval of others. Get the style you want, the size you want, the name you want, from whoever you wish to order from, and support your team in the way that best aligns with yourself.

It’s a conspiracy, but not in the way you think it is. The local children are in cahoots with the plow person to make sure that they have boards set up for their street hockey game. The end of your driveway is but a minor sacrifice to make sure a ball doesn’t skip under your car. Allow it for the children, for the culture, and they will reward you later.

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