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Since the turn of the new millenium, Leaf fans have grown accustomed to seeingÂ aÂ lateÂ twenties’Â Bryan McCabe take charge of what was predominantly a veteran laden defense core. We’d often see him bellowing out orders from the bench, sticking up for his teammates even when it probably wasn’t in his best interest to do so (getting ragdolled by Chara comes to mind), or displaying a sense of passion and heart unmatched by any other Leaf blueliner. On the scoresheet, he was Toronto’s lone all-star defenseman not named Kaberle in recent memory, a 25 minute a night workhorse, and the all-time leader in PP goals among Leaf defensemen. Since the lockout, the Leafs have gone a dismal 11-22-4 without Bryan.
The approach entering the ’08/’09 campaign from head coach Ron Wilson and general manager Cliff Fletcher is that performance is the primary measuring stick while results in the win/loss columns are only of secondary import.
In the ultimate act of callousness by league schedulers, the Maple Leafs will open their regular season account inside the Joe Louis Arena, where they will endure the pre-game banner raising ceremony for the Stanley Cup winning Detroit Red Wings.
The Maple Leafs are ready to set the upcoming season stage for the Detroit Red Wings tonight at the Joe Louis arena and quite a few regulars are ready to pull the jersey back on.
With an abundance of salary and injuries plaguing the league all at once, the Leafs have quickly become friendly territory for other franchises to seek out.
In a recent e-mail conversation with Cliff Fletcher, the Maple Leafs general manager suggested that he hopes to put pen to paper with 18-year-old Luke Schenn by early next week.
The debate rages on as to where Schenn should spend the 2007-08 campaign. The initial community sentiment was that another year in Kelowna, where would enjoy a leadership role and ample playing time, was the best option for his development. His pre-season display of steady, consistent performances and composure way beyond his years has certainly put Fletcher in a delicate situation. It’s only been made trickier by the development of some injuries on the Leafs’ back-end.
A few notes on the Leafs recent demotions, Wednesdayâ€™s roster tidbits and a quick review of Monday nightâ€™s affair with the Blues.
A momentum swing in Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins can be largely attributed to a couple of in-game changes orchestrated by bench-boss Ron Wilson.
The starting first line of Mikhail Grabovski, Nik Antropov and Alexei Ponikarovsky proved ineffectual in the first frame and rookie Nik Kulemin wasn’t clicking with line-mates Nik Hagman and Alex Steen. The team failed to generate anything in the way of offense until late in the third, when Wilson’s ad hoc lines began to fire, mounting a near come-back with two goals in quick succession.