September 30, 2008

Luke Schenn is turning me on...

I finally caught some hot, steamy Toronto Maple Leafs pre-season action last night and, let me tell you, did Luke Schenn ever impress. Could it be that the Leafs actually drafted a stud?

It's hard to believe that Schenn is only 18 years old - he'll be able to buy a beer on November 2nd - and still has a year of junior hockey eligibility. He's only a boy, but at 6'2" and 216 pounds, he plays a man's game.

I'm not a big fan of the pre-season, unlike my blogging colleague JaredOfLondon, so I didn't catch much of the Leafs' first four games last week. However, now that the Toronto Blue Jays' season is officially over and I've had a good cry over the fact that we missed the playoffs again and will probably lose A.J. Burnett to free agency, I can give the Leafs my undivided attention. They deserve nothing less.

Anyway, I tuned in last night, and Schenn did not look out of place. Actually, he looked like he belonged. The St. Louis Blues were in town and their best players - Keith Tkachuk, Paul Kariya, Brad Boyes, and Andy McDonald - were all in the lineup. The game went to a shootout and it was the rookie Schenn who scored the winner for the Leafs on a beauty of a deke.

The goal was sweet, but it was Schenn's defensive play that had me aroused. He looked poised and confident beyond his years back there, and played the man beautifully in the third period against a Blues forward who came in on him one-on-one. It was textbook defensive positioning from Schenn, and a single, solitary tear rolled down my face after he made the play. It was fucking beautiful.

Schenn finished the night with a +3 rating, the game winner in the shootout, and 20 minutes of ice time. Not too shabby for a kid who I thought was certainly headed back to junior.

I'm not so sure anymore. Even with all the depth the Leafs have on the blue line, I'm starting to believe that Schenn is playing himself onto this team. Think about it, Andy fucking Wozniewski made the Leafs out of training camp the past two years so, really, it's no surprise that Schenn is making his case.

In the four games he's played, Schenn has seen 19:37, 19:08, 18:32, and 20:01 minutes of ice time per game respectively. He's got one goal and is +5. He's come as advertised: a shutdown, defensive presence.

I know, it's a small sample size, and he had his best performance against the shitty St. Louis Blues, but it's hard not to be impressed by the man child's performance (I can't call a guy who's 6 foot 2 and weighs 216 pounds a "kid").

So, what do you think - back to junior, or is Schenn ready for prime time?

The regular season starts in just over a week - October 9th in Detroit (cue giddiness). While I'm not sure who's the odd man out if Schenn makes the team (Mike Van Ryn? Anton Stralman? Jonas Frogren? Ian White? Jesus, we have way too many defenceman), I think big Luke has earned himself, at the very least, a 10-game tryout with the Toronto Maple Leafs.


fantasybaseballmacbookpro said...

I know what you mean when you say you are giddy over hockey and the new season.

This is one of the best times of the year. Yes, I love baseball but with the NBA, NHL, and of course the NFL all being played at the same time, no wonder this is the greatest time of the year.

Marvelous Win said...

That last comment got me started to sing "It's the most wonderful time of the year". I am actually really starting to like Ron Wilson, i admit he is not as funny as paul, but he is funny in his own way, and he really is not letting other people's opinion effect him. What is also refreshing is that he doesn't look like someone shot his dog every freaking day.

Skids Mahoney said...

three words...NHL. Seriously though, looking at someone who has already picked up the speed and approach to the pro game at this age, would be taking a step back developmentally if you send him to junior. The only reason MLSE has to send him back is the CBA. Postponing his RFA status by a year makes no sense. It's not like we are chalk full of prospects and need to choose who to sign and who to let walk. The future is now.

Q-girl said...

6'2" and 216 pounds, Schenn, stud... stop using dirty words because now you are turning me on.

Does it really hurt to send a kid back to Jr. Nah! As a huge fan of Junior hockey I say let us keep our "boys" (yes they are still boys, they act and think and feel and look like me on this one). If you put him in Toronto now and if he fucks up it will be like feeding him to the wolves.

He has the rest of his life to be an NHL player, but only two more years to be a junior eligible player. There is no need to rush these kids into the NHL. Only desperate teams do that. Oh wait!!! Right... Toronto!

I am glad you are done writing about baseball. Let's never speak of baseball again.

wrap around curl said...

Nav, reading some of this I could have sworn it's something I wrote. HA!

Yes Schenn is a stud. Totally foxy even.

Let him own the W some more. I am sure he can post some fabulous record breaking numbers. Besides, I'd like to see Jared Cowen take him on.

fantasybaseballmacbookpro said...

q-girl: "Let's never speak of baseball again" is a little harsh. It was a long season and the Jays are out but it's baseball and there is always room in any conversation/blog post for baseball. :)

I do agree with you on sending him back to the minors. No need for him to play with the men when he is still a boy. The Leafs honestly DO NOT need him this year.

General comment: The Leafs are not a playoff team and please dont give me any BS on how they are. They are rebuilding and this is something I thought they should have done in the past instead of waste large sums of money and prospects for over the hill players like Gilmour and Leetch. The only thing we got from those years was a Round or two in the playoffs. Only a blinded fan thought they had a legitimate chance at Lord Stanley.

eyebleaf said...

@ Fantasy: You're right, this is the greatest time of the year. I think you've inspired a post.

@ Marvelous: I too am becoming quite enamored with Coach Wilson. And I think that look on Maurice's face was due to the fact that the guy just isn't a very good coach. I think that self-realization was finally settling in, especially in the last days, and it showed. But he'll get another job. They always do.

@ Skids: First of all, that's the best alias ever; Skids Mahoney. It's pretty bad ass. As for Schenn, I don't know, I'm conflicted. I think you're right that he's got nothing left to prove down in the 'dub, but it's all about confidence. Not many 18 year old's can go straight from junior to the NHL, especially on defence, hence the concern. I think with all the depth on the blue line, Schenn will end up going back to Kelowna, probably after a nine game try out, and I can't really argue with that decision. I'm willing to wait for him.

@ Q-girl: Are you as turned on as I am because of Schenn? Whoo. It's hot in here, ain't it? I have no problem with him going back down to Kelowna, like you said, he's got the rest of his life to be a Toronto Maple Leaf. I'm just, ahem, excited about his prospects. We haven't had a prospect like him around these parts since, well, shit, I can't even remember. Wendel maybe, and I was just a mere tot when he came onto the scene. And believe me, when it comes to the boys down in junior hockey, I trust you 110%.

Oh, and don't hate on baseball! Tis a wonderful game.

@ Wrap: I hope you realize how much you've inspired me.

@ Fantasy: First of all, I love multiple commenters. Bless you. And don't worry, I know Q-girl hates the baseball posts, but I've still got some baseball on my mind. In fact, I always do.

And you're right about Schenn and the fact that the Leafs don't need him this year, but I do. It's more selfish reasons, you know?

As for your general comment, I know, the Leafs are not a playoff team. BUT at the same time, you never know. You really never know.

I'm down with a rebuild. Got no problems with it, but I would argue that the Brian Leetch trade was a pretty good one, at the time. The Leafs had arguably their most competitive team in the post-expansion NHL era, and we're talking 40 odd years here. Brian Leetch was a great acquisition and he played great in the blue and white. He cost the Leafs a first round draft pick - Maxim Kondratiev - who was a complete bust, so what was the harm? It's a shame writers like Damien Cox don't bring up that trade when talking about trading high draft picks.

I even supported the Owen Nolan for Brad Boyes trade at the time. The Leafs had a very competitive team (we're talking Leafs teams that had 100 point seasons) and I supported the team going out and adding to what was already a contender. Yeah, in hindsight, the trade sucked because that Boyes fellow turned out to be a God damn 40-goal scorer, but no risk, no reward. We tried, it didn't happen, but I'm all for trying again when we are back in that position.

Were the fans in Edmonton and Calgary blind when their team went to the final? Were fans in Carolina blind when they went to the final and won? What about Tampa? There are no guarantees. You try your best to make the playoffs and, if that happens, it's anyone's shot from there. That's the beauty of hockey. And sports in general.

Thanks for the comments, peeps.

In the words of Noreaga's Animal Thug, "I love everybody. I love everybody."

fantasybaseballmacbookpro said...

Eyebleaf: I can see where you are coming from with the if you don't try you'll never succeed thing but here is something about the Leafs.

When do you ever see a Leafs game NOT sold out? It might seem like the games are not sold out since most of the Platinumn seats are empty because of the rich people being able to afford tons of ACC food (this is another rant I will save for another time). Okay, going back to the sold out part. The Leafs sell out every single game even though they have the highest average ticket prices in the entire NHL. They are $20 higher than the second place team.

So, I am looking at this from a financial point. Who do you think owns the Maple Leafs? If you answered the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan you are correct. These shareholders don't really care if the Leafs win or not, just as long as their investment is sound. If MLSE brings in a return of 10% or more, do you think they care if the Leafs finish dead last in the league.

The Maple Leafs, from my perspective, put a respectable team on the ice to compete, prior to the salary cap, and make it into the playoffs but they were not built for a stanley cup run. Leaf management brings in guys just so it seems like they are making the "right" moves but in fact they are actually hurting the team. The bottom line is, they give a little hope and the die hard Leaf fans just keep supporting them, which is a good thing. The upper management sees nothing wrong with putting a losing team on the ice because they will still sell out all the seats and bring in $$$$$$ worth of merchandise.

I just went off on a stupid rant but that is how I feel about the Leafs. I love them and will always support them and I hope they truly rebuild and bring in guys like Schenn in the next 2-5 years. Wouldn't that be great if we had 2-4 guys like him?? SICK!!

Think about the Penguins with Malkin/Crosby.

I just hope the Leafs prove me wrong because if they do, Toronto is going to go absolutely nuts if they bring Lord Stanley home!!!!!!

PS. Looking forward to some NBA talk too!

Q-girl said...

"when it comes to the boys down in junior hockey, I trust you 110%"

ohhh you shouldn't trust least not around the boys. My boyfriend cannot trust me around my little pretties. The boys most def should not trust me - run boys run (or should I say skate boys skate... away from me as fast as you can). rawr.

Culinarian said...

It truely is that "giddy" time of season.
Apparently the Leafs are trying to move a Dman or 2, meaning Schenn may definately have a chance at the line up.
Uncle Cliff has many tricks up his sleeve, but now it's just a matter of time seeing if there are any other GM's stupid enough to take one of these crazy contracts off us...
Kaberle and Kubina have both been mentioned but have no trade clauses (naturally)...
I think picks are what Cliff really wants in return now, so let's see how the season pan's out.
Should be a doozie.
Good read...awaiting many drunken leaf post-mortems

fantasybaseballmacbookpro said...

According to the fine people at ( Schenn will be with the big boys for the start of the season.