July 02, 2009

Truculence? Check.

Brian Burke, if nothing else, is a man of his word. Saith Burke, back on November 29, 2008, when he became the man to fix the Toronto Maple Leafs:

"The first thing and probably the easiest thing to change on your team is the amount of the snarl, the amount of the bite. That's an important part of how my teams play."

July 1st has come and gone, and the Leafs have increased their snarl and bite quotient tenfold, thanks to the acquisitions of Colton Orr, Mike Komisarek, and Garnet Exelby. It's safe to say the winds of change have arrived. Burke is making this "his" team.

I'm rather pleased with the additions. Mostly because I hate all three of those guys.

Here's what I've written about Komisarek in the past:

"...Komisarek is a douche. If there's one guy on the Habs I want to kick square in the groin, it's Komisarek.

"Mike Komisarek's an All-Star? Fuck off, Montreal."

There's even a tag on the blog in honour of Toronto's newest defenceman: "Mike Komisarek = douchebag." Obviously, it will never be used again. He's our All-Star defenceman now, yo.

Yesterday, I loathed Komisarek. Today, I look forward to seeing him don the blue and white, along with the alternate captain's "A." Welcome to the good side, Mike.

The "A" on Komisarek's jersey will come from the sweater of the departed Pavel Kubina. He will be sorely missed. I enjoyed Kubina's time in Toronto, especially his booming shot from the point, and am lamenting the fact that one half of the Czech connection on defence has been traded away. Such is life. Players, they come and go.

In return, in Exelby, the Leafs get another stay-at-home defenceman I've never particularly liked. Mostly because the bastard tried - rather well, I might add - to decapitate Mats Sundin.

Well, Exelby's a Leaf now, and here's why his tenure in Toronto might be slightly arousing:

Komisarek and Exelby bring zero offence to the table. Instead they bring a penchant for open-ice bodychecks, something lacking around here since the days of Russian warriors Dmitri Yushkevich and Danny Markov. And that scratches me right where I itch.

The two also can't possibly not help improve the Leafs' absolutely fucking pathetic 74.7% penalty killing percentage.

Speaking of bringing nothing to the table offensively, that brings us to Colton Orr. He fights. That's it, that's all. He is what he is. And at $1 million a season over the next four campaigns, I'll take him over Brad May, Andre Deveaux, Ben Ondrus and, especially, Ryan Hollweg any day of the week.

Of course many Leafs fans, never satisfied and always bitching, are wondering when and who Burke is going to land up front. (Rick Nash, 2010!) Sure, I've got questions as well, and was hoping Burke might land Mike Cammalleri or Brian Gionta, who both ended up in Montreal, land of the midgets. But I'm with Burke: the back-end was rightfully the Leafs' first and foremost priority.

On a quick aside, the best news of the day was the free agent forward signing that didn't happen in Toronto: Chris Neil, along with his ugly mug, remains an Ottawa Senator. While I rooted for Bryan Marchment in a Leafs uniform, even I have my limits. Crisis averted. And, still on Ottawa, I love Dany Heatley. Anyone who fucks the Senators so gloriously gets a pass in my books.

Back to business: the Leafs allowed an embarrassing 293 goals last season; worst in the league. They scored a respectable 250 goals. Sure, Nik Antropov's 21 goals, Dominic Moore's 12 goals, and Pavel Kubina's 14 goals are gone, but I'm not worried about it. I fully expect Nikolai Kulemin to improve on his 15-goal rookie campaign, and John Mitchell to pot more than his rookie total of 12. Nik Hagman's a 30-goal man if healthy, there's no way Lee Stempniak scores only 11 goals in 60 games again, and I believe Jiri Tlusty is ready to make the full-time jump to the NHL after becoming a point-per-game player in the AHL.

The goals will come. I haven't even mentioned the collegiate cats Burke was able to sign a few months ago. But it's time to focus on what's wrong with this team, and not worry about what might or might not happen up front. The priority, as it rightfully God damn should have been, and as Burke clearly signalled it was with his moves, is getting that 293 goals against number down to 230. And I'm confident our new defensive core - a shut-down threesome of Luke Schenn, Komisarek and Exelby - along with a healthy Vesa Toskala and soon-to-be-signed Jonas Gustavsson (there's no way Burke's NOT getting him), can make that happen.

Don't get me wrong; if in the coming days Burke can add a forward, preferably a centre, I certainly wouldn't mind. It would be the icing on our truculent, stay-at-home defencemen cake. Mats Sundin, anyone?


kidkawartha said...

Great post, eyebeleaf. Honest, but a heavy dash of reasonable optimism. I really think Komi will get a chance to shine with the Leafs- I think we underestimate how much he wanted out of the "chaos a' la francaise" after Dec. of last year. And his American coach and GM will see to it that $4.25 million won't be wasted.
I also think Mats will sign again, just not until about...........early March. :) I would love him to sign again to finish out his career. One year at $5 or $6 million I have NO problem with, as long as he's ready to go on opening night.

general borschevsky said...

Thanks for the link. Nice reference to Markov and Yushkevich. That's the kind of hockey I want to see in Toronto.

Down Goes Brown said...

I like the Dmitri Yushkevich and Danny Markov comparison.

Anonymous said...

I believe in Vesa Toskala.

(But I'm going to miss the fuck out of Tim Stapleton. Dude's got talent.)

DAN THE MAN said...

Still, as an unabashed homer, will the Leafs make the playoffs? Or will they simply stumble when they simply cannot?

wrap around curl said...

Instead of getting THUG LIFE tattooed across their stomachs, the boys should get TRUCULENCE.

Bhattorious said...

Exelby, really....are you kidding me....Shut Down...NO....the only good thing about him is he hits and hes 28 years old....

Exelby is a bum, he will hit and mess up our defence. I think Colin Staurt was the player Burke wanted, 4 of his 8 NHL goals are Short Handed and hes 27 years old

eyebleaf said...

@ KidKawartha: I'm glad Komisarek is coming from Montreal. He knows how to deal with the moronic Habs media, and the pressure. I like the numbers of his deal. As for Mats, let's wait. It's what we do with him. But in all reality, I don't see it happening.

@ General & DGB: I think we've all got great memories of Yushky and Markov.

@ Infield: I'm trying to believe in Vesa Toskala. And I think for Stapleton, it will always come down to his size. Hopefully he gets a shot in Atlanta. With the signings of Bozak, Hanson and co., he wasn't going to get it here.

@ Dan: Of course the Leafs are making the playoffs. That goes without saying, my good man.

@ WAC: Truculence!!!1

@ Bhatti Boy: Bro, Nonis said the Leafs were close to acquiring him during the season. Forget about Stuart, he's a Marlie, not a Leaf. Exelby is the guy the Leafs wanted, and they got him. So, great. On Sunday, I'm going to seriously smack some sense into you.

ar - KEE said...

1 - Colton Orr is a Bad Mother-SHUT YOUR MOUTH
2 - Garnet Exelby is not to be trifled with.
3 - Mike Komisarek. I could honestly gush all day. As you said: The crush officially kicked in last night at like 11:30. Not only is he a fully hateable jerk on the ice, he's a real sharp dresser off the ice.

Komisarek + Schenn = Best looking D-pairing in NHL history.

the expos said...

Habs fan here, I come in peace.

Komi is a meh really. Hes a little overhyped IMO (Habs fans stuffing the ballot this year didn't help). Hes good at what he does, hitting and blocking shots although he didn't hit as much this year due to a dislocated right shoulder which seemed to linger into the season.

His flaws is his defensive games as a whole, theres times where he could act as a double to a pylon out there. Get too aggressive and completely go out of position, stupid turnovers etc.

Hes nothing special, but hes good at what he does.

eyebleaf said...

Expos, thanks for the scouting report. I loved how you stated your intentions upon your arrival.

Bottom line: I hated watching Komisarek play against the Leafs. As a fan, he always got under my skin. He was good at what he did. He reminds me of a Darcy Tucker type; I certainly hated Tucker before he became a Leaf, and he went on to become one of my favourites.

If healthy, and slotted behind Kaberle and Schenn, I think Komisarek will be a great defenceman for the Leafs.