What a fantastic game last night. A thrilling third period comeback on Hockey Night in Canada at home against an Original Six franchise. Doesn’t get much better than that! We’ve been seeing a lot of this exciting new hockeyÂ lately, haven’t we? A great comeback victory against New Jersey on the road, arguably the best gameÂ sinceÂ the Montreal knockoutÂ on the last game of the season at homeÂ 2 years back, followed by this doozy of a gameÂ against the Rangers. Gotta love it!
Let’s talk about the guy who kickstarted last night’s comeback, John Mitchell.
John’s been pretty much a microcosm of this new Leafs team that has quickly won many of us over. He’s a big-time underdog, not as talented as everyone else, but possesses unbelievable determination and works his tail off each and every night. Nothing tastes sweeter than hard-earned success, and it was nice to see him finally get a bit of the spolight last night with his first and second NHL goals.
Mitchell, an Ontario boy from Oakville,Â was drafted in 5th round, 158th overall of the 2003 NHL draft. He played 4 seasons for the Plymouth Whalers, scoring 230 points in 258 games played, and served as their captain in his last year before making the jump to the AHL. John played 3 full seasons for the Marlies and enjoyed a bit of a breakout season last year when he broke the 40 point plateau (scored 51 points) for the first time.
Â After surprising the coaches with his impressive play at training camp, Mitchell flashed some of his character with a very simple comment: “Every year I’ve wanted to make this team but some years it’s more realistic than others. I just want to keep playing the way I am.”
That’s the main difference between this Leaf squad and teams of the recent past. Guys like Finger, Frogren, Grabovski, Schenn, Moore, and Mitchell are not getting anything handed to them on a silver plate. They’ve waiver pickups, guys who haven’t gotten many chances at the NHL, or even 19 year old rookies that weren’t even expected to make the team. They’ve had to work hard for everything they’ve gotten and that mindset has seemed to rub off onÂ the rest of the guys in the locker room.
Always a pleasure,