Maple Leafs VP of Hockey Ops Dave Poulin joined Bryan Hayes on TSN1050 a few minutes ago. On the Dave Bolland front, Poulin suggested Bolland playing a game before the Olympic Break isn’t out of the question, but it’s simply a matter of “he’ll play when he’s medically cleared,” whenever that is.

Below are some of the other topics discussed:

On the Olympics and JvR and Kessel injuries:
It would have to be a a significant injury to take them out of the time slot. There would have to be a decision by the federation or team that they were going to be replaced because of injury. We support the players going and having a successful run. It’s not our place to say you can’t go.

On the trade deadline:
There’s a lot of thought process and earlier discussion than normal. There’s a short window after the trade freeze. There’s a trade freeze, but no talk freeze. There will be a lot of discussion going on. A technical part of a trade won’t happen until X date, but discussions will be happening during the break. It’s not going to be like you don’t talk to anybody and then the 26th and 27th come along and everyone starts talking. Some of these things are months in the works. Virtually all the teams have had their pro meetings in the last few weeks. We had ours out West last week; we go through every team in the NHL and AHL and rate each individual player. It’s very labor intensive and time intensive but it sets up the trade deadline in nice way. You reflect and look at your own team very hard and look at other players from other teams and where they might fit.

On the impact of Gleason and the overall state of the defense:
We all agreed as we were going through the year that we didn’t have the pairings we wanted. I still don’t know that we do. Other than first line, we haven’t had the line combinations we would prefer, either. I’m more of a generation where I played with the same two guys for 6 or 7 years. Gleason has settled down Cody Franson a little bit. He’s also allowed the two young guys to play together. It’s more of a formation of what we want, but I still don’t think we’re quite there yet.

On the recent ups and downs:
You have to be pretty resilient in this business. You need thick skin. This morning when we woke up and looked at the Conference standings… I know it’s split now, but there’s 16 teams and we’re in 4th place. If you told me at the start of the year they would be in fourth with Boston, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay in front, most people would be happy instead of micro analyzing every little bit of it. That’s the beauty of sports though – the process, the ride. I think we have better hockey ahead of us.

We are a very young team in a growth phase. We know we are not a finished product.

People forget about that. We have to look at the big picture here. I don’t think people look at the fact that we have one of the youngest AHL teams that is 10 points ahead of the competition in their division. They continue to play well and find ways to win, and the coaching staff – Steve Spott, Gord Dineen – has done a great job developing Leafs of the future.

We started this conversation talking about Tampa Bay. We are now getting our draft picks in there [in the system]. The picks we made in 2009, 2010, 2011 are now getting to the pro level. That’s the base we are building from. The conversation of the age of both of those teams is almost an afterthought for a lot of people.

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