Thursday, May 22, 2008

Leafs Need to Open the Check Book

Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment are often accused of being tight-fisted with their wallets, or more accurately spending sums from their seemingly endless coffers foolishly.

The Leafs don't need cheques, they need checkers. One would think a team that routinely ices 11 fourth liners should have no trouble doing just that; one would be wrong. There's a difference between a true checking line and run of the mill, third and fourth line grinders.

Players like Pohl, Earl, and Tucker are a dime a dozen. Players like Berg, Zezel, and Osborne were a dime a dozen in their day. Bill Berg was a pest extraordinaire; unlike enforcers he was smart defensively and had some speed. Peter Zezel, a top scorer in junior, spent hours studying linesman and other centres en route to becoming a premiere faceoff man. The fact he was harder to move than an ox due to his soccer legs helped. Mark Osborne was also a bit of a pest, but he could draw penalties as easily as he took them. He had more hits than a sailor on shore leave.

Individually, those players were not spectacular. The genius was in putting them together and giving them a common goal. The current Leafs have the players, all they need is the plan, the mission, the coach, the will and the genius.

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