Is there anything you would rather do with your Tuesday night than watch the New York Islanders and Toronto Maple Leafs duke it out? If you said no, much like me, you have a problem. Actually, it's more like a sickness.
I don't know why I watched the game, but I did. To no one's surprise, it was like pulling teeth. It was the Leafs and Isles, after all. Borderline AHL hockey. But, hey, the Leafs won. In overtime, of course. Mickey Grabs with the winner, eh! It's a celebration.
Anyway, while I was walking home from work yesterday, I was thinking about just how much the Leafs' roster has changed in a calendar year. Yes, this is in fact my thought process as I stroll along Yonge St. after a long day at work. Don't judge me, yo.
Thanks to Google, which has completely changed all of our lives, I pulled up the box score to a game between the Leafs and New Jersey Devils, played on March 8, 2008. The Leafs were 2-1 losers (fucking Devils). Here's the roster the Leafs put out that night:
Ben Ondrus (will never be anything but an injury call-up)
Phil Oreskovic (drafted)
Luke Schenn (drafted; thank God)
Lee Stempniak (acquired via trade)
Anton Stralman (still half Leaf, half Marlie)
Martin Gerber (picked up on waivers)
Curtis Joseph (free agency; oops)
As you can see, the roster turnover has been nothing short of phenomenal. Granted, there have been a lot of injuries this season, as there always are. Ben Ondrus is up with the big club right now because Nik Hagman is hurt. I don't imagine Ondrus is part of the grand plans going forward.
Guys like Stralman and Oreskovic are only up because Mike Van Ryn is made of glass, Kaberle's got a busted hand, and Jonas Frogren is done for the season. Don't forget about Jamie Sifers, who's also seen some action with the big club this year.
And Martin Gerber is a Leaf only because Vesa Toskala is injured, and because both Curtis Joseph and Justin Pogge stink.
Gone too are guys like Mark Bell (waivers), Robbie Earl (traded) and Staffan Kronwall (waivers). Rookies like Alex Foster and Darryl Boyce, who saw action with the Leafs last year, haven't been able to make the jump this year. While Tim Stapleton is down on the farm, enjoying a fine season, I think we'd all be pleased if Andre Deveaux and Ryan Hollweg (worst trade ever) never play for the Leafs again.
Ian White is one of the more interesting cats to think about, March 2008 to March 2009. A year ago against the Devils, he played 13:13. Of all the six defensemen in the lineup that night, White received the fewest minutes, even less than Stralman. Last night, White played 27:25, by far the most on the team. He has skyrocketed up the depth chart, and it's a testament to his hard work and flexibility. Also, his stache. He's rocked it like a champ all year and, make no mistake, it definitely has something to do with his success.
Clearly, change has come to Toronto. And the Brian Burke purges shall continue. I imagine it will be another busy summer in Leafs land.
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