Just when I thought the Leafs had hit rock bottom with a disastrous December, they open January by being soundly thumped, thrice; first by the Sabres, which was followed by a jolly good win against the Senators, then by the Panthers, and finally by the Canadiens.
Next up? The Flyers. This is a team that back in the mid-80s was truly enjoyable to watch, only due to their ability to create mayhem and infamy, known collectively as the rather legendary Broad Street Bullies.
Now when I think of the Flyers, I think of Jeff Carter and how he might have made a fine addition to the Leafs these days, if only Kaberle had acquiesced to move along. Our vaunted defenseman wouldn't then, merely a year ago, but now says if the manager doesn't want him and does not respect him as a player, then move him along please.
He's gone, make no mistake about it, and so is Toskala—well, okay I'm simply wishing he'll be gone sooner. I can't stand to see the Leafs get thumped again.
I referenced in my headline bullies, however, only with respect to Grabovski. Maybe Hollweg will re-enter the lineup over the next three games, and I say, why not throw him into the match against Philly on Saturday.
Hopefully, Leafs trainers and coaches have an array of video clips featuring the lovely Bob Kelly and Dave "the Hammer" Shultz, or even Bobby Clarke to show and inspire our young and talented Deveaux. I believe the Leafs' investment in May is one being made in Deveaux in fact.
There's a wonderful element of intimidation that will legitimately enable teams to win games on the way to the Cup. Intimidating players challenge other players to go into the corners and scrum along the boards.
This is a defining brand characteristic of the North American game, which stands opposed to the European style by its pure physicality. Players who can punish other players with a crushing body-check are incredibly valuable. This type of activity requires guts.
Intimidating players are not necessarily bullies, but they certainly create space on the ice with the ever-present opportunity to draw blood. I'd like to see Antropov or Poni create space.
I hear they're big guys, but no one in the NHL takes them too seriously. They're simply not a threat, in any way. I'm wondering who'll be Luke Schenn's first victim.
In the meantime, tough guy Kubina needs to step up. Does anyone know if Sifers is a scrapper? He seems solid enough, and keen, but I don't know if he's intimidating these days.
I like White. He's a fighter, but not in the scapper kind of way. Yet, we have seen him drop the gloves, once. But is he intimidating? Nope.
I'm not saying that if you're not intimidating then you're riding the AHL bus, but if I'm reading between the lines, the word "intimidating" is the word Burke is struggling to find when he gives his interviews.
This is the factor he admires. His teams evoke fear. They are feared. They are intimidating. They punish. Fearsome and intimidating teams win Stanley Cups.