Maple Leafs Look Ahead: Mike Komisarek Looks to Build off Tough Season

Jon Neely@@iamjonneelyAnalyst IApril 22, 2010

TORONTO - NOVEMBER 30:  Mike Komisarek #8 of the Toronto Maple Leafs stretches during warmup before playing the Buffalo Sabres November 30, 2009 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Abelimages / Getty Images)
Abelimages/Getty Images

It certainly wasn't the kind of first season in Toronto that defenseman Mike Komisarek was hoping for.

After signing with the Maple Leafs in the off-season, leaving the rival Montreal Canadiens, he was expected to bring in the toughness, tenacity and experience that the team was in need of on the blue line.

Starting the first game of the season against his former team, Komisarek was paired up with Tomas Kaberle and Leaf Nation was ecstatic in anticipation of him playing his first game in a Leaf uniform.

The problem was that he let the atmosphere get to him and by the time he has gotten in a fight and taken five minor penalties, the Leafs had lost the affair in overtime.

It was a tough game for the experienced defender who, instead of letting his skill and physicality take over, let his frustration lead him to a night of disappointment. It didn't stop their though,and from then on the season was essentially a bust for Komisarek.

After playing just over a month, Komisarek missed eight games in November due to a leg injury, but got a boost when he was named to Team USA for the 2010 Winter Olympics on Jan. 1, 2010.

His excitement was short lived though, as the very next day in a game against the Calgary Flames, he sustained a shoulder injury and was forced to miss the Games and the remainder of the Leafs' regular season.

He appeared in just 34 games this season, scoring a mere four assists—not getting his first until Dec. 10, 2009. He was a minus nine and though he looked as if he was finding his game towards the end before he sat out, the season overall was a major failure—something that will not sit well with him over the summer.

If there's one thing Leaf fans can probably count on at the beginning of next season, it's the fact that Komisarek will come in as prepared as he's ever been. He needs to show not only his team and coach he can be what they expect him to be, but the fans as well.

He cannot afford to have another lackluster year in Toronto. It's not something that bodes well for a defensemen playing in this city, especially with a big-time contract to live up to. You only get so many chances before you're on this first train out of town and booed every time you set foot back in it.

His off-season will be incredibly important, as he'll not only want to make sure that he is fully recovered from his injuries, but that he's in the shape he needs to be to avoid such injuries next season.

He will play a big role on the Leafs defensive core and his stay-at-home style is something that the team will count on to blend with the offensive-defensemen the team has also.

It certainly wasn't the ideal first season in Toronto for Komisarek, but with enough work in the summer and a little luck on his side, next season could be the one that everyone was expecting for the stud defender.