I think it is safe to say that the Toronto Maple Leafs were shell shocked on Saturday night and heck, even the Montreal Canadiens may have been a little shocked by the incredible display that they were witnessing.
I am of course referring to the incredible National Hockey League debut of Ryan Poehling, a 20 year old rookie forward who had one of the best debuts you're ever going to see at the NHL level. Poehling lit up the Toronto Maple Leafs, who admittedly had rested 4 of their regular defensemen for the final game of the 2018 - 2019 NHL regular season, for 3 goals, picking up his first career hat trick in his NHL debut. Poehling did not stop there however, he would also add the eventual game winner in the shout out, sending the Canadiens faithful home happy and full of hope for the future.
After the game Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock was, as you would expect, asked about the performance of the young Habs rookie and Babcock showed some rare humor when responding. The Leafs head coach, jokingly of course, threw his scouting staff under the bus for failing to let him know that Poehling was going to pop off for what was essentially 4 goals.
“I read the scouting report," said Babcock. "It never said he was going to score four goals."
One of the most memorable moments of the night however came after Poehling scored the first goal of his NHL career, a goal that the Maple Leafs and Mike Babcock would go on to challenge. The Leafs felt that there may have been goaltender interference on the play and as a result issued a challenge that could have potentially cost Poehling the first goal of his career. Even though the challenge would eventually fail, Babcock was asked about the decision following the game. Again Babcock showed some excellent humor and was quick to pile praise on the kid.
"I felt so bad honest to God when we challenged the goal… I read the scouting report, it never said he was going to get four on Hockey Night in Canada in the Forum. I don’t know how many guys have ever done that. Good for him, good start."
The forum? That's a name I have not heard in a little while.