Maple Leafs Look Ahead: Colton Orr Ready To Prove He's NHL's Toughest

Jon Neely@@iamjonneelyAnalyst IMay 1, 2010

NEW YORK - APRIL 07: Colton Orr #28 of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Jody Shelley #45 of the New York Rangers engage in a first-period fight at Madison Square Garden on April 7, 2010 in New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

When Colton Orr joined the Toronto Maple Leafs last summer, after playing four years as a member of the New York Rangers, he was hoping to come into a rebuilding situation, add some experience, and toughness to a young team.

Little did anyone know he would impact the team as much as he did.

His toughness was never in question through the early years of his career, but after the season he had with the Leafs, he almost assuredly sits a top the league as far as tough guys are concerned.

It also doesn't hurt that he set a career high in almost every statistical category—not that his previous numbers were that tough to beat.

He had a career high in goals (four), points (six), shots (43), and penalty minutes (239). When given more minutes closer to the end of the season, he was able to prove he was more than just a pair of knuckles.

He was bumped up to play on the third line on a number of occasions and even saw power play minutes when the team needed a big body in front of the net. The added minutes were mostly due to the team's season essentially being over, as well as a shortage of forwards, but he did show he could be useful with his role increased.

He was second only to Tampa's Zenon Konopka in penalty minutes (265), and though his 23 fighting majors were only the fifth-most in the league this season, he rarely was on the losing end of a bout and certainly had people's attention when he stepped on the ice at the same time as a worthy dance partner.

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With three years left on his four year, $4 million contract with the club, Orr is most likely a part of the future plans for Brian Burke as he adds the very truculence that the Leafs GM constantly speaks of.

The 28-year-old is a great fit for the young Maple Leafs and undoubtedly is a respected voice in the dressing room. He was one of only three Leaf players to play in all 82 games this season (Tomas Kaberle and Francois Beauchemin the others) which only adds to the toughness factor.

He suited up for every game willing and able to what it takes to make his team better, knowing full well he'd only see fourth-line minutes.

It's players like Orr who unselfishly do exactly what they're asked of every game and though occasionally they might seem like a liability on the ice, it's their will and determination that can help a team like Toronto get closer to where they want to be.

And if all that wasn't reason enough to include Orr in the future plans, just remember the feeling you got every time he dropped the gloves this season. There were some nights he was the most exciting part of the game.

He's already the toughest player on the Leafs without a doubt, and next season he'll be looking to solidify his spot as the toughest in the NHL.

Better do up your chin straps.


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