Heard on Episode 4.5 of A Foot In The Crease.
Throughout much of last season, it was clear that the Maple Leafs were not a tough enough team to play against—except for when Wade Belak was in the lineup, which wasn’t very often.
The reasons for the Leafs’ disinterest in utilizing Belak a year ago to fill a role in which he excelled—protecting his teammates by striking fear into opponents but without taking unnecessary penalties—I will never understand.
Instead, Belak was shipped to the Florida Panthers in exchange for a fifth round draft pick. Ryan Hollweg was acquired from the New York Rangers to fill his void, and in return the Maple Leafs sent a different fifth round pick to New York.
Essentially, the Leafs traded Belak for Hollweg, and so far the switch has been anything but a good one for the Maple Leafs.
Inexplicably, Hollweg dropped the gloves an astounding five times in the preseason—including three times in one game—losing all five bouts.
Late in the exhibition schedule, Hollweg picked up a boarding major and a game misconduct against the St. Louis Blues. This resulted in an automatic two-game suspension for accumulating three boarding majors in 41 games dating back to his time with the Rangers.
Upon returning from his suspension, Hollweg lasted only four minutes of ice time before taking another boarding major penalty against the same St. Louis Blues. This earned him a three-game suspension and possibly even more supplemental discipline.
On the ensuing five-minute power play, the Blues scored twice to tie the game on their way to winning in come-from-behind fashion.
Hollweg’s play has absolutely no place with the Leafs or in the NHL.
As wrong as Chris Simon was in tomahawking Hollweg across the head with his stick two seasons ago, Hollweg’s play thus far with the Leafs begins to allow people to understand Simon’s frustration.
Here’s hoping Hollweg gets handed at least a 20-game suspension because that will be 20 games the Leafs will be better off without him.
But hey, all that was just a rigamarole.