Toronto Maple Leafs 2010-11 Season: This Time, It Will Be Different...

Mark RitterSenior Writer ISeptember 17, 2010

MONTREAL- APRIL 10:  Dion Phaneuf #3 of the Toronto Maple Leafs watches play during the NHL game against the Montreal Canadiens on April 10, 2010 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  The Maple Leafs defeated the Canadiens 4-3 in overtime.  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

With training camp about to commence and the 2010-11 NHL season just a few weeks away, there looks to be a new attitude in Toronto, with captain Dion Phaneuf leading the way.

Last season the Toronto Maple Leafs played without a captain, which, for some Leaf fans, was hard to swallow.

It’s easy to say that a team does not need a captain to have leadership, but, with Phaneuf already making a huge difference off the ice, it’s hard to agree with those findings.

Since day one of his being named captain, Phaneuf has put on emphasis of building a close relationship with all of his teammates. Phaneuf is said to have been in touch with every one of general manager’s free agent signings, trade acquisitions and rookie’s on a regular basis throughout the summer.

For the first time since Mats Sundin wore the Blue and White, the Leafs look to have the leadership and attitude that is needed in today’s NHL.

Like Burke, Phaneuf is a little gruff, plays with a “take no prisoners” attitude on the ice and isn’t afraid to throw his weight around when warranted.

With so many rumors about Phaneuf’s bad attitude and cancerous presence in the Calgary Flames locker room, it is refreshing to see Phaneuf’s stellar attitude and passion for the Leafs organization and teammates alike.

Leaf fans can expect every player in camp to show up in great shape—an attribute that both Burke and Phaneuf put a premium on this summer.

With a much deeper pool of talent to choose from than in the past, head coach Ron Wilson can expect a highly-competitive training camp, with each and every player bottling for jobs, respect and that coveted ice time.

In seasons past, Burke noticed a lack of drive, compete level and passion from many of his roster players. Burke knew from day one that if he was going to get more out of his NHL roster that he would have to build some depth in the organization—something Burke has achieved in short order.

Good drafts, college and European signings, free agency, and some excellent trades have attributed to the Maple Leafs face-lift, which, for the most part, has Leaf fans excited for not only this season, but the future as well.

Yes, Leaf fans, this season will be different. This season, your Toronto Maple Leafs will not back down, will not turn their heads—they will play hard, play tough, and bring the truculence and passion that Brian Burke demands.

It all starts in training camp where more than a few new faces will have to impress if they are going to crack the roster.

Nazem Kadri, Jerry D’Amigo, and Marcel Mueller were probably the most impressive forwards in rookie camp, with D’Amigo emerging as the golden boy du jour.

New acquisitions Colby Armstrong, Kris Vertseeg, Mike Brown, Clarke MacArthur, Brett Lebda, and Matt Lashoff will all have to find their place on the new-look Leafs, as there are no guarantees of ice time or line combinations.

A better attitude, a better effort, and a clean sheet of ice should supply Leaf fans with plenty of optimism and, with a little luck, enough wins for a playoff push and/or spot.

With so many battles expected in camp and with so many faces in the fold, something tells me that a special player will emerge from camp, someone unexpected is going to make this team, and that is why things are going to be different this season.

Until next time,