I spent a couple of hours late last night staring out at the city beyond my window, listening to Natalie Imbruglia, and thinking about Luke Schenn. The kid is staying with the Maple Leafs and, much like Natalie sings, I'm torn.
October 28, 2008
On an aside, I've got quite the view of Toronto from my mother's basement. You'd be surprised.
When it comes to the man-child known as Schenn, I must admit that I'm surprised, and a little disappointed, that he won't be returning to junior hockey. I felt that, at the end of the day, another year of dominating hockey players his own age could not have hurt him. Schenn would have been the number one guy on the Kelowna Rockets, and would have had the chance to play in every situation, especially the power play - something he won't get much of an opportunity to do here with the Leafs. Schenn was also a shoo-in for the Canadian entry at the World Junior tournament, and likely would have captained the squad.
In Schenn's defence, and also much to my delight, he's played great so far this season. He's proven that he's ready to play with the best players in the world. In only eight games, he's become one of Ron Wilson's go-to guys, and has cracked the top four on the blue line. Frankly, it's hard not to be impressed by what he's been able to step in and do. His play really made it hard for the Leafs to send him back down, and I can't help but admire the drive and work ethic of the soon-to-be 19-year-old (!) for that.
One thing is clear: Schenn plays with the poise of a seasoned NHL defenceman. He plays hard, he plays with passion, and he sticks up for his teammates. Watching the youngster step in and fight Chris Neil, after Neil nailed Matt Stajan on Saturday night, brought a tear to my eye. Schenn really looks like he might be the real deal.
Speaking of Chris Neil, his pathetic douchebaggery knows no bounds. He was willing to drop the gloves and fight Luke Schenn, but when Jamal Mayers was standing in front of him, gloves off and asking for a dance, Neil politely declined, bitch that he is, and skated off to the Ottawa bench. Gutless. Absolutely gutless. Neil is an embarrassment to hockey, the game I love with all my being, and Canada, the country I love even more. Fuck Chris Neil. And if you're down with Chris Neil, fuck you too.
Oh yeah, and Stajan, would you be a dear and try keeping your head up? It would be appreciated. There's only so many of your battles Schenn, six years your junior, can fight, honey. If you're not going to keep your head up, do us all a favour and grow some gonads. Stupid, sexy, Stajan.
Of course, we don't really know if Luke Schenn is the real deal. Not yet. My good friend MF37, who runs the great blog Bitter Leaf Fan, made some valid points after I emailed him asking him his thoughts on the Schenn announcement. He's right: there is simply no tried, tested and true way to best develop NHL talent. Each and every player, and each and every situation, is different. Schenn may be ready. Or Schenn may not be ready. We don't know. We never watched him play in junior, and an eight game sample size is much too small for us, or anyone for that matter, to pass judgement. All we can do is put our hope in Ron Wilson and the coaching staff. While the majority of signs are pointing to Schenn being the stud we so badly want and need him to be, we'll get the answer we're looking for, one way or another, in a few years.
The decision to keep Schenn was a tough call by the Leafs' brain trust, especially considering the traffic jam on the blue line. It's a decision they will no doubt take a lot of heat for. But I'll give them props for going against the grain.
You full well know Damien Cox was foaming at the mouth once he heard Schenn was looking for permanent digs, and Damien undoubtedly will shit all over the club today, conjuring memories of Drake Berehowsky ("Hate the Drake!") and Al Iafrate. Not that I'm surprised. No matter what the Leafs had done with Schenn, the wrath of the mittenstringers was waiting for them.
In the spirit of the season - it's a development year, right? - let's sit back and enjoy watching Schenn develop in front of our very eyes. I'm game, and I'm excited.
Welcome to Toronto, Luke. Officially, this time. My head was hoping you'd be back on your way to Kelowna. My heart was hoping you'd stay...