You know, I've never been good at saying goodbye. I'm an emotional cat, I get attached easily. Carlo Colaiacovo, Alex Steen, and me, we had big plans together. Big plans. It's a shame they'll never come to light.
November 25, 2008
The trade caught me by surprise. I guess they always do, eh?
Lee Stempniak, welcome to Toronto. By all accounts, the Maple Leafs got the most accomplished player in this deal. Stemps is only two seasons removed from a 25-goal campaign, and he's producing at just under a point-per-game clip so far this season.
I'm high on Stemps and am looking forward to seeing him in the lineup tonight, but this here is about my boys Carlo and Alex.
I know Carlo's hurting right now. Yep, he was injured yesterday. Again. The diagnosis? A broken heart. Carlo's a local boy, and he was living the dream playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs. He's going to be hurting for a while.
It just never happened for Cola here in Toronto, and I wish I knew why. The injuries, the frustration, the expectations. It was a crazy time. It's hard to believe that Colaiacovo, drafted way back in 2001, played only 111 games in the blue and white.
When he was on the ice, Carlo was a warrior. He never changed his style, injuries be damned. He played with a reckless abandon, and that's a big reason why he was in and out of the lineup. I loved that he was always looking for the clean, open-ice bodycheck, and that he was the first guy to step in for a fallen teammate.
I'll miss you, Carlo. I'll miss those hits the most. I hope you tear the roof off in St. Louis, and become the defensive stalwart I know you can be. Good luck, fella.
Oh, Alex Steen. Where did we go wrong, bro? Give me a second. There's, uh, something in my eye.
I remember Steen's rookie season like it was yesterday. He outscored rookies like Philly's Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, while playing wingman to one Mats Sundin. It looked like we'd found a left winger who would patrol the flank in Toronto for years and years to come.
Steen scored 30 goals combined in his next two seasons but, for some reason, we were always left wanting more. Looking back, I guess we wanted him to explode much like Carter and Richards did.
Perhaps expectations weighed Alex down, and perhaps they were too high from the very beginning. A late first-round pick, Steen came to Toronto with claims that he would be just like Dad, Thomas Steen, and that he might one day captain the Leafs, once Sundin passed on the torch.
John Ferguson Jr. thought so highly of Steen that he refused to send Alex, along with Tomas Kaberle, to Edmonton for Chris Pronger. I can't imagine that made Steen's life any easier.
I hope Alex Steen's tenure in Toronto is a lesson to all of us. We've got to keep our expectations in check.
Steen's got a bright future down in St. Louis. He's a great skater, with a fantastic release, a great forechecker, and a guy who can play a solid two-way game, while putting up 50 points. Did we give up on him? Maybe. But, sometimes, you've just got to go your separate ways.
Cheers, Carlo and Alex. May you one day sip from the sweet chalice known as success.