“When the schedule first came out, you know, you look forward to it. But I think both teams have moved on now and they’re having some success, too.” – Luke Schenn

The definition of success is a funny one. It seems like it should be the Flyers who are proudly sitting in fifth place in the East, poised to make a leap into a tie with Pittsburgh or surpass a division leader with a victory on Monday night. It seems like it should be the Leafs who are taking pride in getting over the hiccups of a slow start, pleased to be part of an early tie for the last playoff spot in the Conference. Surprisingly, the tables have turned, and with very little changing for either team besides the Schenn/van Riemsdyk trade, it seems like Schenn has a lot to prove against his former club on Monday. Moreover, he’s got to show his current club that he can eventually become the type of shutdown defenseman that can warrant giving up a player who now seems to be discovering his true offensive upside.

“One game is not going to prove who won the trade,” Schenn said. “It’s going to be a season, or years, to see who won it. So I’m not going to put too much emphasis on this game. … But it’s definitely exciting to be going back.”- Luke Schenn

While one game, or twelve, may ultimately not decide who won this trade, there seems little doubt that Toronto is the early victor. James van Riemsdyk is scoring at a pace that could see him set career highs despite the shortened season, and Schenn, who has been improving of late, has still seen his most notable moment in Flyers jersey take the form of a puck bouncing off of him into his own net. At least Luke can take comfort in being the better Schenn.

Despite the return of Luke Schenn being heralded as a victory lap in the trade that brought the Leafs van Riemsdyk, it’s still bitter sweet for a couple of reasons.

The player the Leafs wanted Schenn to be, an elite shutdown defenseman, is still one of the organization’s biggest needs, and while strong possession defensemen exist in the pipeline, there isn’t a Brent Seabrook/ Dan Girardi clone hiding anywhere. Ultimately, that’s what the Leafs wanted Schenn to be, no matter how clear it was that he was more along the lines of the Brendan Witts and Mike Komisareks of the world. Lesson learned: when you draft in the top five, make sure that player can skate at an NHL level.

Schenn’s return should also be a warning about development. Here’s a player that was brought into the organization with the highest of expectations, and was never given a chance to learn the game at his own pace. All Schenn did was pass Jay Harrison, Phil Oreskovic, Jamie Sifers, Jonas Frogren and Anton Stralman in the team’s depth chart, and that was enough to make us believe that he was somehow ready to take the NHL by storm. I hope next training camp it will take more than outplaying Mike Kostka for Morgan Rielly to make the Leafs, because it would be horrible to see another talent limited because he can win the sixth spot on a depth chart.

I don’t think in general people hold any ill will against Luke Schenn, and he’ll probably get some polite recognition for his service to the Maple Leafs. He did give us some great moments; his end to end Bobby Orr rush, his extermination of Evgeny Malkin, and the couple of years of hope he provided us with before we learned he couldn’t skate. We always knew he’d contribute something of value to the Maple Leafs, we just didn’t know it would be 6’3 potential point-a-game winger.

Godspeed Luke Schenn, I hope you forego the traditional multi-point night enjoyed by so many former Leafs on their return. Also, please don’t hit JVR too hard, we really like him.

Monday Morning Links…

Former Leaf Luke Schenn on return to Toronto
Sean Fitz-Gerald of the National Post previews Monday’s game.

Colton Orr and Frazer McLaren Get Angry, Lilliputians Suffer
PPP reflects on what was one of the most entertaining nights of Leafs hockey in years.

Did Mikhail Grabovski bite Max Pacioretty?
Cam Charron asks the question that will be officially answered after an 11am hearing. Personally I think he bit him, and I’m fine with that given the situation. It only adds to the Legend that is Grabovski.

Check out LOLMontreal’s Twitter Feed
Looks like Grabovski and Orr have bought up all the real estate inside of Habs fans heads. Also, it would be greatly appreciated if everyone could stop referring to ‘class’ when it comes to sports.

Five Years of Down Goes Brown
Congratulations to one of the best. This great collection of the best of Down Goes Brown should keep you from doing work on Monday.

Reimer heading in the Right Direction for the Leafs
Jonas Seigel looks at the rebirth of Optimus Reim. I’d still like to see a strong veteran support in the tandem replacing Scrivens, but Reimer’s play has pretty much shut up any Luongo talk.

NHL, NHLPA to discuss realignment plan this week, report says
I hold the unpopular opinion of wanting to see the Leafs moved into the West (biased).

I’m going to start posting awful Kessel trade proposals that I find. Here’s the first.

With the Leafs Flying High, Forget the Rumours
Michael at Vintage Leaf Memories wants you to weigh in on what will be a never ending series of Kessel rumours.

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