On October 27, the Toronto Maple Leafs announced that forward Colby Armstrong would be out of the lineup an estimated four to six weeks with a finger injury that he sustained in the previous night's game against the Florida Panthers.
Why then the walking cast?
Jonas Siegel of the AM640 News Blog, Eat.Sleep.Leafs, asked that question to head coach Ron Wilson during the postgame media scrum on Saturday, and Wilson said that he (Armstrong) had a small fracture in his right foot.
When did that happen? More importantly, why the hell are NHL teams so tight-lipped about player injuries?
Some years ago it was common practice to not divulge the true nature of a player's injury during the playoffs for fear that an injured player may become a target of a losing team and end up with a more serious injury.
But if a player is playing with an injury that could become more severe in a game that can be as unpredictable as NHL hockey, should said player not be kept off the ice, thus making the secrecy unnecessary?
It isn't really a big issue. It just seems silly.
The Toronto Maple Leafs offense is still sputtering along and essentially only coming from the line of Grabovski, Kulemin and MacArthur.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are 28th in the league in goals for with an average of 2.38, but they are tied for ninth in the league in goals against average with a very respectable 2.46.
The problem with the Leafs isn't the team defense or goaltending, though there have been a couple of glaring mistakes by both.
It was prognosticated at the beginning of the season that the Leafs' only trouble was going to be goal production. So far it has been their biggest issue, but how can it be fixed?
A knee jerk reaction would be to take Grabovski and put him on a line with Kessel and Kulemin. Kessel and Kulemin have worked pretty well together in the past and Grabovski has seemingly earned a shot on the top line,having been easily the hardest-working Leafs center man, if not forward for most of this young season.
It is a well-documented fact that Grabo tends to get knocked off the puck with some regularity, but his work ethic should outweigh this.
There is of course the issue of faceoff percentage. Though Grabo is tied for 30th in the league with a very respectable 53.6 percent, Tyler Bozak is among the NHL's best at 64.2 percent.
Is a more drastic step needed?
Though Bozak is among the league's best in the faceoff circle, his work ethic is clearly off. Should he be demoted to the third line, thereby promoting the second and third liners who have been doing the lions share of scoring anyway? No.
Why you ask? The answer is simple and the message to Ron Wilson is clear: Do not mess with the one thing that is working for you.
Wilson could make a drastic move, put Bozak in the press box and bring up Kadri for some first line minutes. There are those that would say Wilson can't just drop Kadri on the first line, but logic would dictate Wilson can't bury him on the third either.
Yes, there are ways to shake things up, including a trade that likely won't happen anytime soon. Not that a trade should happen, but Brian Burke has said recently that there is nothing happening on that front.
In keeping with Burke, according to a story published in the Toronto Star yesterday, Burke was asked whether he thought Ron Wilson's job as head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs was safe to which he replied, “If you watch the game films and show me one thing Ronnie did wrong, then come back and ask me about it. The answer to your question is, 'Yes, the coach is safe.'"
Burke is right. While most of us will sit and question some of Wilson's decision making abilities, Wilson isn't the one on the ice, and unless it becomes obvious that a head coach in the NHL has become completely ineffective at communicating with his players, then firing a head coach should be almost a last resort.
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