Heard on Episode 4.15 of A Foot In The Crease
Now having hit the conclusion of the pre Christmas portion of the Maple Leafs schedule, it’s an appropriate time to sit back and digest – perhaps over a glass of rum and eggnog if you feel so inclined – what we have witnessed over the first thirty four games of the regular season.
Staying in the Christmas spirit, we’ll award a few glasses of holiday cheer for some of the better performances thus far this season and a few lumps of coal for some of the less impressive showings.
A glass of holiday cheer to Ron Wilson. No, the Maple Leafs are not the most talented team but on most nights, they show up with their lunch pale, willing to work and have hung around, winning more games to this point in the season than many had predicted.
Accountability finally reigns in the Maple Leaf locker room and they have become a better team because of it. If a player performs in a way that doesn’t warrant more ice time, it’s quite simple: they don’t play.
A lump of coal to Tomas Kaberle. On a team laden with young players, Kaberle was looked upon to provide leadership and a steadying force on the blueline. Difficult to comment on his leadership because we aren’t in the locker room but Kaberle’s play has been as underwhelming as it ever has been since his tenure began with the Maple Leafs in 1998.
In fact, despite being held accountable by being benched and having his ice time cut, Kaberle has continued to play in a way that appears as though he is simply going through the motions. Even Jason Blake has been able to drop that persona.
Finally, some holiday cheer to Matt Stajan. Never a guy to get the credit he deserves, Stajan has quietly gone about his business this season and is on pace for a career season.
He rarely makes a bad decision with the puck, plays on the power play and penalty kill while continuing to be a vocal player in the media, always answering to the media and acting as a leader, something he also doesn’t get credit for.
At this point, fans should be happy with the Maple Leafs play, winning a comfortable amount of games while seeing some impressive development out of a lot of their young players. For Christmas, that’s all the Maple Leafs could really ask for. But hey, all that was just rigmarole.