Does Hagman have a genie in a bottle?

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    Most of you are too young to remember the 1960s sitcom, I Dream of Jeanie, but anyone around my age will know what I’m making reference to here.

    The series starred Barbara Eden as a genie who was released from her bottle on a distant deserted beach by an astronaut, one Major Anthony Nelson.

    Major Nelson had been blown off course when re-entering the earth’s atmosphere and landed in the ocean, and was washed ashore where he found the bottle, released the genie (named Jeanie) and took her back to his home in Florida.

    Eden was already a starlet in her own right, but the actor who played Nelson was a relatively unknown actor named Larry Hagman.

    The series showcased Hagman’s creative talents as a comedic actor and brought him moderate fame and success.

    He finally broke out as a star once he arrived on the set of “Dallas” years later, and became a household name, starring as J.R. Ewing, a role far removed from that which he portrayed on the Jeanie series.

    Funny, Larry Hagman started out playing an astronaut from Florida, moved on to play the part of a lifetime in Dallas and became a star.

    We have a fellow by the name of Hagman who is following a similar path.

    After a few supporting years in Florida, he became a solid performer in Dallas (the city, not the series), scoring a career-high 27 goals last season.

    Now, only a true classic TV buff, like myself, could appreciate the analogy.

    But the fact is, I have been profoundly impressed by Nik’s puck-handling abilities and his awareness on the ice. His quick reactions and defensive upside have helped Grabovski and Kulemin tremendously. That line has been dominant more often than not so far this season, and I think Hagman deserves a lot of credit for that.

    He should get some consideration for an All-Star write-in vote, but probably won’t, as he quietly goes about his business patrolling the wing on what many consider Toronto’s top line.

    And the magic he displays with the puck…well maybe it was always there, or maybe, just maybe…. he’s unleashed the inner “genie” that has been locked away all these years.

    Only time will tell.

    Alec Brownscombe is the founder of, where he has written daily about the Leafs since September of 2008. He was also the editor of the 2009-12 Maple Leafs Annuals. You can contact him at [email protected]