Toronto has not seen a Providence Bruin since the team last visited on March 4th, 2009. But as rumours of Tomas Kaberle’s trade to Boston slowly turned to fact, the Rhode Island AHL club certainly received a spike in their traffic from North of the border.
Brian Burke, President and General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, announced Friday that the Toronto Maple Leafs had acquired former first-round pick Joe Colborne along with a first round selection in the upcoming draft as well as a conditional 2012 second round pick. Colborne, hailing from Calgary, Alberta, has spent 55 games of his very first professional season working with the Providence Bruins, AHL affiliate to the NHL’s Boston team of the same name.
“Early in the afternoon I got a call from my agents,” said the 6-foot-5 forward, who towered over the media at Ricoh Coliseum as he relived the day’s experience following a 4-3 Marlies loss on Friday. “I’ve talked to I think every single person in the Toronto organization today,” said Colborne with a grin.
Having arrived only ten minutes prior to the press conference, Colborne had yet to talk to his new coach, or greet the members of his new team.
“I can’t explain how excited I am to finally be here, to get the blue and white on and start playing.”
Although barely 21, the AHL rookie commanded the respect of the media with his firm eye contact and well-rounded thoughts – a trait regularly seen among those who have progressed through the university ranks, possibly a trait Burke admires.
“When you play four games in five days, you can’t really prepare for that in college,” said Colborne as he responds to a question about the leap from the WCHA to the AHL. “I feel I have taken really good care of my body, and have worked really hard this off-season to try and prepare myself.”
As the words exit the mouth of Colborne, it becomes all the more apparent what caught the interest of Burke – the same General Manager who assigned the organization’s director of player development to coach the AHL club. Hard work, preparation and taking good care of one’s body, all key phrases uttered by Marlies Head Coach Dallas Eakins on a continued basis and likely the mantra that kept Eakins on board while the rest of Jeff Jackson’s staff were relieved.
“Hopefully he sees me going out there and being a pretty big part of this team, and I will do whatever he wants,” said Colborne, anticipating the relationship he will have with his coach.
“Everyone echoed that they have been watching me quite a bit, and they liked what they saw so don’t go and try to be something I’m not.”
What Burke liked about the tangible elements of Colborne’s game should surprise no one that has heard Burke’s famous “Truculence” speech.
“I like to have the puck on my stick as much as possible, whether that’s skating through the neutral zone and setting up a play on the rush, or controlling it down low using my size. It’s something I’ve really tried to incorporate in my game now that I’ve been putting on weight in the last few years. I’ve really taken advantage of my size down low.”
The stitches over Colborne’s left eye are indication of ‘using his size.’
In a team starved for size up front, the biggest Maple Leafs centre presently being sophomore Tyler Bozak standing 6-foot-1 and 195lbs, Colborne’s towering frame will be a welcomed addition. On a team that turned to Darryl Boyce and Joey Crabb to provide jam in the corners, Colborne’s attitude is a welcomed fit. And finally in a Burke system where University graduates are praised, and recklessly selling off assets in hopes of a high draft pick is frowned upon, the acquisition of Colborne makes perfect sense.
The Maple Leafs have unquestionably lost a large piece of their past in Kaberle, but in exchange they receive a young man who will likely play a big role in their future.
On reuiniting with former University of Denver teammate Tyler Bozak:
Courtesy of providencebruins.com:
2009-10: Appeared in 39 games as sophomore for Denver, setting career-highs in goals (22), points (41) and penalty minutes (30)… Tied for second on Pioneers in scoring while leading club in goals… Named to All-WCHA Third Team… Tied for first in NCAA with eight game-winning goals… Netted first career hat trick February 15 against Minnesota… Two-time recipient of Red Baron WCHA Offensive Player of the Week award… Had 18 points (10g, 8a) during 12-game point-streak from January 1 to February 13… Finished season with 10 multiple-point games, including two three-point efforts… Named to All-WCHA Academic Team and earned WCHA Scholar-Athlete status… Signed entry-level contract with Boston on March 31… Made professional debut with Providence on April 2, tallying first two pro points with pair of assists.
2008-09: Suited up for all 40 games for Denver as freshman, recording career-high 21 assists… Named to All-WCHA Rookie Team after finishing fifth in WCHA overall and league rookie scoring… Named Red Baron WCHA Rookie of the Week for December 2-8… Tallied eight multi-point games… Had three points (g, 2a) at Michigan Tech on December 6… Co-recipient of Barry Sharp Memorial Award for Denver’s top freshman.