Leafs Report: Old Boys Trump Promising Rookies

Mark GregoryContributor IIISeptember 26, 2009

LONDON, ON - SEPTEMBER 17:  Viktor Stalberg #45 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates in a pre-season game against the Philadelphia Flyers on September 17, 2009 at the John Labatt Centre in London, Ontario. The Leafs defeated the Flyers 4-0. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

The best players in camp this year have been Stalberg, Rosehill, Macdonald, Bozak, Kadri and Hanson; all of them rookies and according to the Star, none will have earned a regular spot on the Leafs roster so far.

A couple of them are penciled in as replacements for injured players-Mayers and Orr. It seems the Leafs are more concerned with not losing games than they are about winning games.

The youthful exuberance this “kid line” brings to the Leafs has been greatly under estimated. Their chemistry has made the difference in many of the preseason games to date, including last night in Detroit.

If they breakup this line and don’t make it a third scoring line for the Leafs, who will take the pressure off Toronto’s first line that is not capable of producing goals every night? Is the answer Mayers, Kulemin and Primeau?

What roster spots would I free up?

1. Mayers, in my opinion, has played below expectation since his arrival, no production and not especially strong on the fore check either.

2. Kulemin, in my mind, has not earned his spot on the roster, though he has played marginally better in the last two preseason games. But have I seen him on the score sheet lately? To me Rosehill should be on Grabovski’s line as several times it seemed Grabovski had a target painted on him by the opposition.

Kulemin, when playing with any players other than Russians seems to be below average, though he does look good on the shootout when given the opportunity. The clincher for me was when I read in the Star he said his favorite team is the Detroit Red Wings.

3. Primeau to me seems the epitome of entitlement on the Leafs. It seems obvious that Primeau has replaced Brad May as Burke’s man in the dressing room and because of his  6’4” height he is closer to God (Burke) than other players.

Against Detroit Primeau and Stalberg had similar opportunities from the faceoff circle, the result was Primeau shot was off the post, Stalberg buried it as his first of two goals and an assist on the night.

I get that players have earned a certain amount of respect because of lengthy NHL careers, but the fans deserve to see the best players play.

Kadri has shown he is a game breaker, and I have seldom seen the kind of moves he made on the shootout the other night by any Leaf lately, perhaps Jason Blake a couple of times.

The pressure is going to be on players in Toronto whether the rookies are left to season a year in the minors or play with the Leafs this year, and in my estimation there will be more expectations on them next year if they are sent down.

All of these aforementioned rookies have played better than Tlusty, yet according to the Star, Tlusty has a roster spot. Again I get that if a player does his time he has earned a certain amount of respect and a longer look, but to lose the exuberance and enthusiasm rookies bring to the team is a great mistake.

By putting to rest once and for all, the sense of entitlement on the Leafs, players will earn their spot by their performance and not by their reputation. This attitude exudes from the top of the organization on downward and will reflect on the teams performance on the ice.

All Leafs fans thought that entitlement in the Leafs ranks was a thing of the past with the Leafs playing so many rookies last year. The college players signed on with the Leafs with the understanding that if they played well they would earn roles on the team.

We all understand rookies make mistakes; this was quite evident when Tyler Bozak played the point on the power play against the Flyers.  The Flyers pressured the point immediately and the result being a couple of bad turnovers.

The “Old Boys” network has been the cancer that has infected the Leafs organization from top to bottom for a long while now. Look at the price the Leafs paid to rid themselves of four of the “Muskoka Five”.

Any sense of security Kaberle thought he had signing a no trade contract ended with the Firing of GM John Ferguson. How many no trade contracts are there now on the Leafs?-Only one. And with luck we won’t see such a debacle again anytime soon.

It would also be nice to see some parity towards reporters in Toronto. There is no doubt that Damien Cox has preferred status when it comes to the Leafs as he always has the story a couple of days before it breaks before other newspapers.

Obviously this leak comes from high up in Leafs Ownership and this provides Bud fans the heads-up with the low down on Leafs news.

But one could definitely question why the Leafs choose someone so “out of sync” with the direction the Buds are heading to show favoritism to. Case in point Cox’s anti fighting crusade. Pro Hockey is first and foremost entertainment for the hard working Toronto fans.

It is they are who paying the players’ salaries, and I question using someone so politically correct being the “pen”, spreading the Leafs gospel of the “Bay Street Bullies”.

Many of the most ardent Leafs fans read the Sun every day, yet these fans are denied the inside scoop released directly from the Leafs as a result of Leafs “old boy network”.


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