Leo Komarov is back in the KHL. His signature for Dynamo Moscow has already been confirmed by official club sources and his own twitter account. Just like that, the Leafs will have to live life without their pesky winger.
“We made him an offer that we thought was fair. If he chooses not to take it and play in Russia for more money, then there’s nothing we can do about it. I wouldn’t say it was a surprise.”
Komarov finished fifth in the league with 176 hits, scoring four goals and nine points. Therein also probably lies the biggest reason behind his departure. Sure, playing for more money in the second best league in the world is probably tasty enough, but playing a more prominent role on a back to back Gagarin Cup champion team is a gourmet meal compared to what the Leafs offered.
Similarly obvious is what the Leafs lost.
There is a reason behind why the news was met with disapproval from Leafs Nation. Leo Komarov had a very good debut season, a season in which he showed traits this club missed since, well, Darcy Tucker.
At 5-foot-10 and weighing in at 187 pounds, Komarov was one of the smaller forwards on the Leafs and missed games due to his physical style of play, but few can argue he was one of the players instrumental in changing the on ice character of this hockey team. Much more so than the pugilistic skills of McLaren and Orr.
Comparing him to the Leafs‘ bottom-six forward group, Komarov also possessed a good skill level and was a relatively fast skater with good mobility, which enabled him to be so effective on the forecheck.
Komarov wore down the opposition, often hitting everything in sight. Speaking of hitting, he exactly what you’d call a devastating hitter rather, the kind of hitter who finishes every check, just enough to get players off their game when done purposely and consistently.
His feisty attitude was what made him so effective in the first place. Leo had that rare ability to get inside the heads of opposition players but, unlike some, he played a clean game. After all, one has to be able to control their emotion to be an effective agitator. Even so, it often seemed like nothing fazed him. Komarov collected only 18 PIMs throughout the season, 9 less than Brad Marchand, 27 less than Maxim Lapierre. On the flip side, the opposition was always fuming, seemingly for no reason, and he was able to draw several silly penalties.
Objectivity aside, I just loved having Leo Komarov on this team. He was the kind of European happy go lucky stoner type dude who played hard and didn’t take a lot of shifts off. On top of that, he had a great sense of humor, something along the lines of Ilya Bryzgalov, only slightly more measured.
Despite his lacking offensive production, bet your bottom dollar he’ll be tough to replace.
Best of luck, comrade.
Plays of the Year:
RATE THIS PLAYER: Out of 10, rate Leo Komarov’s season relative to his role, opportunity/usage and the expectations for the player entering the season.