As much as Matt Stajan has made strides this season, Alex Steen has regressed. It's cause for concern.
I understand that Steen isn't being put in offensive situations, but in a rebuilding year where development is priority number one, shouldn't he be? Steen's got the potential to be a top six forward and in order for him to become one, he's got to play.
So what's the deal, why isn't Steen playing more? Did he call Ron Wilson a pimp, or something? I'd love to hear coach explain. As great as Wilson has been, the facts don't lie, and this Leafs team isn't all that good. Sure, we can score, but the defence sucks and the penalty killing is atrocious. It pains me to say it, but Damien Cox is on to something, and Wilson doesn't deserve a free ride. No way, not when the team is killing penalties only 72% of the time (I just threw up in my mouth). And, yes, I know, the goaltending has been pretty awful. But still. I think it's time we put down our Wilson Kool-Aid cups.
I'm not sure what the options are when it comes to Alex. I don't think he can be sent to the minors. Frankly, I don't want him to be. The guy can play in the NHL, and is paid accordingly to do so. I think it's simply a case of him not being used appriopriately. I mean, I can't imagine Steen was signed to a two-year, $3.4 million contract to play on the fourth line.
It's amazing that only three years ago Steen and Kyle Wellwood were seen as the cornerstones of the Leafs franchise moving forward. Now Welly, lost for bloody nothing in return, is scoring goals out west and Steen's playing less than ten minutes a game. It's fucked up. Who's to blame - players or coaches and management? I'll let you decide, but I'm pretty confident you know which way I'm leaning.
I don't want the Leafs to give up on Steen. They'll regret it if they do. But he's got to play, and it's as simple as that. I doubt his confidence has ever been lower. As much as I love Jason Blake, he played 18 minutes last night. Wouldn't it make sense for Steen to see that amount of ice time, and get his confidence back where it needs to be? Steen surely needs the minutes more than Blake does, and definitely has a brighter future with the Leafs, three or four years down the road, than #55.
Play Steen, Ron Wilson. Play the shit out of him. Losses be damned.
And Vesa, how about some fucking saves? Jesus.