Frattin, Jumbo Junior Get the Call...Leafs Turn the Page
And so ends another chapter of the storied Maple Leafs ongoing saga. Almost...
Who else enjoyed the unexpected twists in this age-old tale, featuring a few new lead characters, along with some of the bit-parts being re-written, and the usual villains redeeming their honour, at least in the eyes of some...
The obvious 'villain' is Brian Burke, who, until his Leafs really took off in the back-fourty, was the subject of frequent abuse for virtually guaranteeing Boston another player like Tyler Seguin. Now that the Leafs have escaped lottery pick eligibility, coupled with the obvious fact that Seguin, although highly skilled, isn't a gamebreaker just yet either, Burke's character is less likely to be called into question by the usual critics. Considering that he added 2 firsts and 2 first-round prospects who were selected back-to-back in their class, his cred has been restored for now. His sidekick, known as 'Rotten Ronnie' to many, has been the poor bugger taking the abuse for a team that was unable to move the needle until Burke stepped in and made wholesale changes once again, freeing up roster spots for some of the unsung heroes like Daryl Boyce, Joey Crabb, and Keith Aulie. Although the special teams sub-plot is still highly suspect, Wilson has proven that he can turn a cast of characters into something worth writing about when they follow the script.
Dion Phaneuf was all but run out of town before he claimed the team as his own when Tomas Kaberle, a fine hockey player and a class act through and through, saw the writing was on the wall, and gave way to a trade which produced the real subject of today's musings, one Joe Colborne.
Jumbo Jr. is a veritable monster in terms of stature. At 6'5 and 210 lbs, the young playmaking pivot is a future stud by all accounts, if he can continue to adapt and refine his game to withstand the physical demands of pro hockey. He has the physical tools, and the soft touch to turn every offensive opportunity into a legitimate scoring chance.
Although he'll likely receive another full season under Dallas Eakins' expert tutelage in the AHL, tonight he makes his NHL debut against the Montreal Canadiens, centering Phil Kessel and the red-hot Joffrey Lupul.
“We’ve seen him a number of times, and now he gets to play in a game of some significance,” says Coach Wilson. “This will give us a way to evaluate him. I want to utilize him in a position where he can succeed . He could be a No. 1 centre some day, but he has a lot of work to do.”
“I'm pumped", the son of a wealthy oil executive and lifelong fan of the Blue and White enthused after practice. "I have a lot of people to thank for getting me here. I can’t wait for tomorrow. It doesn’t get much better than Hockey Night In Canada".
Also slotting in for the Leafs tonight is Hobey Baker consideration Matt Frattin, a former U of North Dakota star, who was sent to join his new cohorts in the NHL before the ink dried on the 2-year deal he recently agreed to. Frattin has been a reclamation project known as much for non-hockey related matters as he is for his ability to score big, timely goals.
The Leafs now boast a total of 15 NHL recalls, with something like 8 of those remaining with the parent team. While it may be too late to re-write the ending of this closing saga of the 2010-11 season , what a great way to preface the sequel. Welcome to the bigs, gentlemen...