There's a course correction with the esports biz. And, a gab with Greg Kirstein of Paysafe Group
Changes at the top, job cuts and some matters of M&A put esports in the spotlight this week. We spoke with Paysafe's Canadian-based BD executive about the Ontario market. And much, much more.
In this issue:
What’s happening in the esports biz?
Another guest-filled Gaming News Canada Show today
A conversation with Paysafe Group’s Greg Kirstein
An opportunity for operators around World Cup 2026
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Making sense of the upheaval in the esports biz
At first glance, these would appear to be turbulent times for the esports industry.
Late last week, Overactive Media announced the departure of co-founder and CEO Chris Overholt, who, as announced yesterday, is returning to his traditional sports roots as the new senior VP, global partnerships for MSG Sports. We reached out to some esports industry insiders this week and were quickly told there’s no need to start writing the biz’s obituary. And yesterday, Enthusiast Gaming announced its own leadership change at the top with Nick Brien being named the company’s new CEO, replacing Adrian Montgomery, who will now chair the board of directors as part of a transition plan that was made public earlier.
The Matters of M&A section of this dispatch is exclusively devoted to the esports scene. And, there’s the jobs front. Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, owners of the Colorado Avalanche, LA Rams and Arsenal FC, laying off all of the employees of The Guard esports organization at an all-hands meeting last week. Beyond the Summit, another North American esports business, letting go its full-time staff at the beginning of the week. Last month, FaZe Clan trimmed its staff by a reported 20 per cent, and in January, LA-based 100 Thieves said goodbye to 30 employees, including its chief revenue officer. And, the city of Chicago is pulling the plug on a couple of ventures with ties to esports. (A tap of the PlayStation console, by the way, to James Fudge of The Esports Advocate, not only for his reporting over the past couple of weeks but also for posting this highly accessible spreadsheet of former Beyond the Summit employees with their contact information for potential employers.)
“It’s not just esports (experiencing layoffs),” Rivalry CEO Steven Salz, sipping tea to help combat a cold, told Gaming News Canada during a Zoom call Tuesday morning.
The stuffed-up Salz directed us to Layoffs.fyi, which reports 428 tech companies laying off more than 120,000 employees already in 2023 (160,000 workers were let go in all of 2022).
“The Amazons, Apples, small startups,” he continued, referring to the wave of lost jobs in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Esports is such a media-driven, social media-heavy industry, so (the layoffs) seem abnormally high.”
In the case of esports, the economic squeeze isn’t affecting tech but teams and the media companies who banked on esports as a revenue opportunity for an industry having its own trials and tribulations. (Also, the money that was available for investing in shiny new objects pre-COVID has disappeared, and there’s now a day of reckoning for companies with their investors.)
“The esports industry, like many other areas of economic and social life, were of course affected greatly by the massive outlier event we all went through the past two years, COVID,” Christopher Bohlmann, the senior director of finance for Bayes Esports - the Berlin-based betting, gaming and data business which entered the Ontario market last fall as a partner of Bet365 - told us in an email. “As almost all traditional sporting events came to a halt, esports events still took place online and we started seeing a significant increase in viewership numbers, as well as other adjacent areas, like betting volumes. And with that attention it was inevitable that more companies got attracted to this industry, mainly to offset missing business elsewhere. Hence, esports was one of the beneficiaries of the global pandemic, which in turn resulted in strong growth numbers.
“Now, however, we see that more than a few of these companies never fully understood the dynamics of the industry or its audience, and that the kind of growth we saw in 2020 and 2021 is not sustainable, at least not until some corrections are done. Therefore, I consider what we are currently experiencing a healthy transformation that will set the industry on a sustainable long-term path. The year 2023 needs to be, and I believe will be, a year of refocus for everybody involved, and as a result the esports foundation will be a much more solid one.”
It was pointed out to us by Salz and another person who knows the esports scene very well, paying salaries to players, coaches and other support staff isn’t inexpensive. Unlike professional sports leagues and teams, there is little to no revenue from traditional broadcast networks, which means a reliance on tickets, sponsorships and apparel sales to pay the bills.
Salz said Rivalry, the esports/sports betting and media company which calls Toronto home, is off to “a blistering start” in 2023 after a landmark 2022 that saw it enter regulated markets in Ontario and Australia, and experiencing record revenue numbers.
“Betting activity continues to grow at a significant pace for us, and esports viewership is as strong as ever,” he said. “The latest version of Counterstrike is 10 years old. The last week or so, the game hit peak concurrent players which is insane. The number of people playing games continues to grow.”
Bohlmann, who will be among our guests on the Gaming News Canada Show this afternoon, is also bullish on the industry moving forward, including here in the Great White North.
“The right levers are being put in place to strategically position Canada as an attractive esports destination,” he said. “In addition, the similarity to the U.S. market, both from its dynamics and its proximity within the esports world, will definitely prove to be beneficial going forward. Many major leagues and regional tournaments include the entire North American region and make no distinction between U.S. and Canada in their requirements (e.g. player nationality in the LCS, the North American League of Legends Championship Series), so a surging U.S. market is essentially a direct driver for the Canadian market. And with the U.S. states now opening up at a rapid pace, we believe the growth connected to that will also facilitate the Canadian market opening up further.
“We are certain that other provinces will follow Ontario’s example in the near future, and once that happens, Bayes is well positioned to offer live esports data to sportsbooks all across Canada. Our goal is to not only benefit ourselves from that evolution, but also help the Canadian market become one of the most attractive ones globally.”
Live this afternoon: the Gaming News Canada Show
We’ve had a lot of new subscribers to our twice-weekly Substack servings in recent weeks (and, thank you very, very much) so a PSA of sorts about our Thursday afternoon get-togethers on LinkedIn Audio.
We have another jam-packed lineup between 2-3 p.m. today with iGaming Next managing director Pierre Lindh; Ryan McCarthy, BCLC’s director of player health; PointsBet Canada CCO Nic Sulsky; and Christopher Bohlmann, the senior director growth and finance for Bayes Esports, scheduled to join regular guests Amanda Brewer of Kindred Group, Sightline Payments’ Will Hill and Kris Abbott from Kaizen Gaming.
A conversation with Paysafe Group’s VP Business Development, iGaming
We’ve been trying for a while now to sit down with Greg Kirstein. No, not the one who's the retired Columbus Blue Jackets executive (nothing personal), but the man who joined Paysafe Group as a sales coordinator back in the summer of 2013 and is now the VP Business Development, iGaming.
We don’t ask why it took a trip to the United Kingdom for your correspondent who calls western Ontario home and an executive from Montreal to finally have a conversation for your friendly neighbourhood newsletter. But here we are, and we were grateful to grab 20 minutes with Kirstein at the Paysafe booth during last month’s ICE.
On the first 10 months of Ontario’s regulated online sports betting and gaming industry: “The feedback we’ve had has been pretty positive. The AGCO has done a pretty good job of making the market accessible. They wanted to create a competitive market with a competitive tax rate so operators can make money. From a KYC and AML perspective, it’s been a lot more robust than some operators, especially in the U.S. are used to.
“It’s so early. There are so many operators going from grey to regulated, so if you compare Ontario with other markets and see where they were at different stages. . . it’s not as good as New Jersey, for example. New Jersey was straightforward because there was no (grey) market before. It’s going to take a couple of more quarters to see what the potential really is.
And about the prospect of other provinces following Ontario’s lead?: ”We’re hoping for all of us that these other provinces say ‘we have to start bringing that revenue here instead of losing it offshore’. We’re used to operating in Canada through the lens of the lottery corporations. To see the new-found regulation in Ontario and the opportunities it provides us as a company. . . it’s one of the more exciting stories in our business.”
On the role of payments in acquiring and retaining customers: “There are so many operators, so it’s hard to differentiate yourself. A good and smooth payment experience is an incredibly important focal point. You want customers to feel comfortable using the product.
“More legacy sports betting customers are used to dealing with certain payment products. When you have a regulated environment, there are so many new customers and they expect the same from the payments journey. They want to use Interac, debit and credit the same way they do to buy a T-shirt online. When they don’t feel that same level of comfort and credibility, you can lose that customer completely.
“As an operator, you spend a good chunk of change to acquire that customer. You want them to have that good user experience.” (There’s more on this from the results of a recent survey of more than 2,000 bettors in six U.S. states, Ontario and the UK conducted by Paysafe.)
On what delivers customer satisfaction: “There’s an education process with a market that’s been unregulated. We found that especially in Ontario a customer’s reason for choosing a sportsbook is not only the payments experience but the security within that experience. (Offering) Interac or etransfer gives a level of credibility and security to a customer.
On the benefits of offering a made-in-Canada product: “A lot of our customers are U.S. based, so it’s taken a while to explain the benefits of a local solution. It’s incredibly more advantageous. If you’re paying so much to acquire a customer, you better be able to convert them when they use your payments.
“Ten months into the market, given we were live Day 1 with multiple customers and many different products, we got to see what was working and what wasn’t. It took some time to educate those legacy grey-market operators.”
An opportunity for operators around the next FIFA Men’s World Cup 2026?
Our Spidey sense tingled a little more than usual at the start of the week (perhaps it was the extra scoop of dark roast in the Monday a.m. pot of coffee) when reading Jeff Edelstein’s piece on USBets.com about visitors coming to the U.S. of A. in droves for the 2026 FIFA World Cup men’s tournament.
Of course, with the World Cup comes a lot of tourism. Philadelphia, one of 11 host cities, expects more than 500,000 visitors to come to town. Some back-of-the-envelope math would seem to indicate over 5.5 million soccer-mad (football-mad? futbol-mad?) fans will be descending on America to root for — and bet on — their home teams.
Clearly, this is going to be what amounts to a few Super Bowls for America’s legal sportsbooks, as these soccer-crazy fans are sure to want to put down a few bucks on these games.
Except … it won’t be, not unless every state — short of Nevada, which isn’t a host site — changes the rules about who can bet online legally in the States.
And it all comes down to a nine-digit number.
That nine-digit number is a Social Security number, which is a must-have to register for a legal sportsbook in any state except Nevada. The Edelstein yarn got us wondering - with 10 games scheduled to be played in the true north, strong and free - if the expected wave of soccer crazies would face similar barriers to laying down a loonie or three in Ontario.
Not so, the crack communications team at the province’s alcohol and gaming commission told us.
“We can confirm that there is no requirement for players to provide a social security number to gamble on AGCO regulated gaming sites in Ontario,” the comms folks relayed to GNC via email. “The Registrar’s Standards for Internet Gaming require players to be within the province, and for relevant player information to be collected and validated prior to creating an account.”
The minimum requirements to register for an account are:
Date of birth.
Method of identification for subsequent log on, such as user name.
Player contact information.
Information required by the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act and the regulations under it.
As the late talk radio legend Paul Harvey used to say, now you know the rest of the story. . .
On the Home Front
PlayNow Saskatchewan is on the Kane Fritzler bandwagon:
The former husband of Christie Brinkley performed last weekend to officially open the OLG Stage at Fallsview Casino. And the mayor of Niagara Falls shared a few photos from the inaugural event on LinkedIn.
Fitzdares CEO William Woodhams continued his magical media tour on the operator’s entry into Ontario with Geoff Zochodne of Covers.
Speaking of OLG, Mark Keast of CDC Gaming Reports delved into the distribution of casino revenue to communities across the province.
In his debut as Play Canada’s lead writer, C.J. Pierre sets the table on the 2023 MLB season for your Toronto Blue Jays.
BetGames CEO Andreas Koeberl did the Q and A thing with SBC’s Erin-Marie Gallagher, including some talk about Twain Sport being tickled about bringing hybrid games to Ontari-ari-ari-o.
Vancouver-based FansUnite Entertainment let it be known Monday that its Betting Hero business put on a Patrick Mahomes-like display when it came to signing up new customers for sportsbooks on Super Bowl weekend.
Props.cash head honcho Pete Smaluck provided an update on the company’s operations and the addition of NCAA men’s basketball to its offering.
Finally, from the Division of Slipping Under Our Radar, Canadian Gaming Association grand poobah Paul Burns and Windsor-West MP Brian Masse participated in a “Is Betting Taking the Fun Out of Sports?” panel last month:
Let’s Get Together
There’s a broadening of the horizons happening between GiG and News UK.
Aristocrat Gaming will be the official slots partner of the Formula One race in Las Vegas.
Better Collective announced yesterday morning that soccer platform Goal will be the sidekick for its first global media partnership.
U.S. Integrity’s latest partner is from the vroom vroom side of sports.
Philadelphia-based betPARX is the latest member of the International Betting Integrity Association family.
iGaming Next has a new partnership of the strategic sort with AffPapa.
Matters of M&A
TGS Esports is about to purchase Lazarus Esports in a transaction involving two Canadian companies.
Some reporting of the scoopage sort from the aforementioned Fudge of The Esports Advocate that UK esports and gaming business Ginx TV is seeking a buyer or some investment.
ESL FACEIT Group, an esports event organizer business, is acquiring Vindex to support and expand its operations.
North American esports business G1 has acquired Women’s Car Ball of the Rocket League circuit.
This morning, Flutter Entertainment released its 2022 preliminary results, reporting acquisitions of Sisal and Tombola, along with its continued expansion in the U.S., drove a significant year-over-year increase in revenue. The 52-slide document doesn’t break out the company’s numbers in Ontario for its FanDuel and PokerStars brands.
PointsBet released its H1 FY23 financials at the start of the week, including its Ontario numbers (see the graphic below). As Earnings+More reported, CEO Sam Swanell was bullish about the company’s North American strategy, “even as total H1 23 EBITDA losses rose 25% to A$163m on total revenues that rose 28% to $178m”.
A shift in strategy is paying, umm, dividends for Light & Wonder according to its Q4 2022 financials.
Caesar’s CEO Tom Reeg told investors last week that the company’s online sports betting and casino business is expected to be profitable this year.
States Side Stories
Steve Bittenbender of Casino.org had the numbers on Ohio’s first month of legal sports wagering:
Ryan Butler called for both sportsbooks and regulators to exercise caution in making adjustments to the still-young legal sports betting industry south of the border.
Brant James reports for Gaming Today that newspapers on U.S. college campuses are accepting advertising from offshore gambling operators.
Entain has received a licence to thrill in the state of Nevada.
The executive director of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission says seven online sportsbooks are on track for the March 10 launch.
Geoff Zochodne reported Tuesday that sportsbooks coming into the soon-to-open Massachusetts market are seeking a softening around the regulations that involve affiliates.
Speaking of The Bay State, more than $1,200 in illegal wagers were placed at MGM Springfield last month.
And, some news of the somewhat surprising variety late last week that PointsBet won’t be a player in the new Massachusetts sports betting market.
The New York State Gaming Commission is toughening up the rules for sportsbook operators when it comes to advertising.
DraftKings is asking its New York customers to join in the push to have online gaming added to the state’s legal gambling mix.
Steve Ruddock tinkled the keyboard on the 10-year anniversary of legal online poker and casino.
The rolling out of sports betting kiosks at small businesses across Ohio has been of the slow sort.
Playmaker CRO David Woodley spoke with SBC’s Jessica Welman about the company’s on-site activation at Super Bowl LVII.
Speaking of the NFL title game, when it came to wagering in the states of the two combatants, Kansas bettors did pretty damn well while the sportsbooks in Pennsylvania ruled the day.
Mike Mazzeo at Legal Sports Reports gets into the will it/won’t it for legal sports betting in the Lone Star State this year.
There appears to be some significant traction to online sports betting being legalized in North Carolina.
Bragg Gaming’s new content offering is up and running with Caesars in New Jersey.
SportsHandle.com’s Matt Rybaltowski did some keyboarding on the new CEO at Bally’s being in search mode for a new tech platform, and more.
Speaking of Bally’s, the company has given the Chicago Tribune a deadline to move its newsroom and printing press to make way for a downtown casino.
An explainer on why it’s a good bet that legal sports betting in Minnesota will finally get the green light.
MGM Resorts and BetMGM have unveiled their first custom omnichannel slot experience in the U.S.
The latest Waterhouse VC newsletter weighed in on the regulated U.S. sports betting scene.
What’s new with the push for legal wagering in The Show Me State.
Ontario licensee Play’n GO has received the green light to operate in Connecticut.
It’s 23 months and counting for Las Vegas surpassing the $1 billion mark.
An Ohio bettor will be buying the beer and bites after hitting a 15-leg NCAA hoops parlay.
Across the Ponds
A must-read from iGaming Express with the words of Playson CEO Alex Ivshin on the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Wanted: a gambling minister for the United Kingdom.
The former head honcho of the Reading football club is calling for English soccer organizations to take more action when it comes to gambling issues.
Speaking of which, Norwich City is taking some flak for sending a gambling promotion email to its faithful followers.
Some promotions from Aussie operator Betr aren’t sitting well with regulators.
And, betting operators are being accused of skirting the rules by advertising on YouTube during soccer matches.
The UK Gambling Commission reports that problem gambling among adults has fallen to 0.2 per cent.
A new study from Down Under reveals that young people are being exposed to gambling ads on Facebook and Instagram.
The French gaming regulator has said non to the promotional ad strategy proposed by the country’s national lottery operator.
Czechia’s premier hockey league has launched the bidding process for domestic, international and betting video rights.
Gambling revenue in the UK saw a dip in the final quarter of 2022 despite an increase in the number of players.
Kindred Group announced last week that it’s expanding its investment in grassroots sports across France.
The chief commercial officer of Soft2Bet paid homage to last month’s ICE London in a Q and A with Focus Gaming News.
From the Department of You’ve Gotta Be Kidding Us, former UK Health Secretary is launching his own NFT collection.
All’s anything but quiet on the RG front
A tap of ye olde Goldline Impact broom to the folks at PointsBet Canada for this responsible gambling message from skip Kerri Einarson and her four-time Canadian women’s curling championship rink. Our trusted source told GNC the message will run on TSN during its coverage of the Tim Hortons Brier, which gets underway Friday, and inside the host venue - Budweiser Gardens in London.
BetMGM has a new pledge to place a priority on the promotion of responsible gambling in its advertising. We look forward to the new Wayne Gretzky-Connor McDavid creative featuring some RG messaging. . . .
Speaking of BetMGM, the company, along with MGM Resorts, has extended its agreement with the BCLC and its GameSense program.
The NFLPA’s Professional Athletes Foundation is renewing its problem gambling partnership with Entain and EPIC Risk Management, which we profiled in The Company Line on Tuesday.
A Michigan state senator is asking The Great Lake State’s department of education to develop a responsible gambling curriculum.
One man’s story of his online gambling going off the deep end during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The PGA Tour is the latest professional sports organization to join the U.S. National Council on Problem Gambling’s Leadership Circle.
Bayes Esports is expanding its partnership with GG.Bet.
Guild Esports announced this week the launch of its owned and operated studios.
GameSquare announced last week the appointment of Tyler (Ninja) Blevins as Chief Innovation Officer, whose duties will include overseeing a spanking new innovation hub.
In case you’re like your humble correspondent and limited your tours to seeing Windsor Castle and Stonehenge on your recent voyage to England, we present this guide to esports venues across the UK.
Team Liquid is getting together with unikrn with a focus on Brazil.
JohnWallStreet had an interesting conversation with FOTP Chris Grove about the Penn Entertainment/Barstool Sports relationship.
A turbulent start to 2023 continued this week for Bally’s, which announced it was shutting down daily fantasy sports business Monkey Knife Fight, which it acquired in 2021. We’ll speak with Nic Sulsky on the Gaming News Canada Show this afternoon about the company which he helped create closing its doors.
Sports betting platform firm nVenue was announced Tuesday as one of seven companies selected by the NBA to source, evaluate and pilot emerging technologies through the NBA Launchpad program.
Long-time casino influencer Jean Scott is profiled in the latest Faces of Gaming series by Tom Osiecki at CDC Gaming Reports.
Friends of the Parleh (FOTP) SBC News are looking for some very fine people to participate in user research.
Joey Levy’s betr business partner lost a fight for the first time last weekend.
Conor Mulheir of iGaming Next did some brain-picking and crystal-ball gazing with FOTP Benjie Cherniak about the future of the regulated sports betting business in North America.
Good reading from the keyboard of John Holden for Legal Sports Market on the impact the use of different baseballs by MLB has on betting markets.
Enthusiast Gaming sales and marketing maven Amanda Rubin has some advice for brands on how to exploit gaming.
Speaking of Enthusiast Gaming, you’ll need a subscription to The Logic for this Catherine McIntyre exclusive on the former executive who’s been accused of trying to stage a “calculated coup” against the company’s CEO, Adrian Montgomery.
There’s a new artificial intelligence writing program that spits out data and analysis around the pick in a sporting event.
Rush Street Interactive is extending its BetRivers Square sports betting game to NBA games.
Coming soon to a screen/town near you
iGB is hosting a webinar in the middle of the month on the impact of payments innovation around the expansion of the gaming business.
In advance of International Women’s Day, Dr. Cheri Bradish will moderate a Shining a Light on Women in Sports Media panel with Nathalie Cook, Alison Redmond, Deidra Dionne and Marsha-Gaye Knight on March 7 at the Ted Rogers School of Management in Toronto.
Tickets are now available for the May 23 SBJ Sports Business Awards at the Marriott Marquis Times Square.
SiGMA has early bird tickets to attend the July 19-22 SiGMA Asia Summit in Manila.
People on the Move
Katie Lever, the former CLO and COO at Lottery.com, is joining Great Canadian Entertainment as General Counsel, Chief Privacy Officer & Corporate Secretary.
Katharine Gomaniouk was recently promoted at Bally’s to Senior VP of Global Financial Planning and Analysis.
Stefan Zant, the former German national ski team member and co-founder/CEO of Seven.one Sports is joining the Partnerships team at Sportradar.
Jay Vaccaro is the new Manager of Trading Compliance at BetMGM.
Catena Media is moving four-tool journalist Robyn McNeil from PlayCanada.com to Bonus.com.
Sports industry vet Greg Kirkorsky has joined Sports DataIO as Chief Commercial Officer.
Genius Sports has promoted Leige Ludlow to Senior Business Development Manager.
Samantha Hamlin has joined iGaming Next as a Conference Producer.
Dr. Nick Bontis stepped down as President of Canada Soccer this week and is being replaced for now by five-time Olympian Charmaine Crooks, and Kelly Brown becomes the acting Vice President.
ICYMI, former Houston Astros GM James Click is the new VP, Baseball Strategy for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Alex Pelletier has received a promotion from theScore to Release Manager.
Classified (Jobs) Information
Bet99 is on a seek-and-employ mission for a VIP Business Development.
Caesars is searching for a Digital Reputation Specialist - Sports.
Covers is on the lookout for a Financial Planning and Analysis Manager.
Wanted by Great Canadian Entertainment: a Specialist, Marketing (Digital CRM).
Pinnacle Sports is looking for a Social Media Manager in Ontario.
PointsBet is in the market for a BI Developer.
OverActive Media has an opening for a Senior Manager, Creative Services.
U.S. Integrity is searching for a Sports Analyst - Soccer Specialist.
Xpoint is hiring a Data Scientist in a hybrid role based in Dubai/UAE.
Chalkline is in the market for a UI/UX Product Design Manager.
There’s an onslaught of openings right now at Sportingtech.
Blackhawk Network has an opening for a remote Business Development Director - Commerce.
Finnish company Finnplay has an opening for an Accounting Specialist.
Confidential Jobs is hiring a Head of NHL, Sports Betting.
MLSE is seeking a Senior Manager, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion.
Golf Canada is on the hunt for a Manager, Brand.
The Vancouver Canucks have the same gig up for grabs.
Vancouver’s soccer Whitecaps are in the market for a Copywriter.
There’s a buyer-beware slant to this one: Canada Soccer is seeking candidates to join its board of directors.
The baseball Blue Jays of Toronto are hiring a Program Assistant - Youth Baseball.
About the Numbers
We are just over 24 hours away from Friday’s 3 p.m. ET 2023 NHL Trade Deadline, with almost every team in the league choosing to tango ahead of the cutoff.
As of Wednesday evening, the only NHL side not to make a mid-season trade in 2022-23 were the Calgary Flames, but that doesn’t mean teams won’t be busy during Friday’s deadline. Last season, there were 33 trades involving 54 players made on Deadline Day, despite several moves in the days and weeks leading up to the deadline.
For those wondering how the Ontario teams are faring, the Ottawa Senators made a big splash on Wednesday by acquiring 24-year-old defenseman Jakob Chychrun from the Arizona Coyotes – a player with the potential to become a franchise cornerstone. Kyle Dubas and the Toronto Maple Leafs have chosen to be uber aggressive, adding six new faces over the past two weeks into the mix, hoping that this will finally be the year that the team breaks through in the postseason.
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