Toronto Maple Leafs: Grit is an archaic term

TORONTO, ON - APRIL 19: Noel Acciari
TORONTO, ON - APRIL 19: Noel Acciari /

The Toronto Maple Leafs start their regular season on Wednesday and Leaf nation has already spent the entire offseason trying to find minute cracks in this line up.

It is a great time to be a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs; there is no shortage of supercharged talent on the roster to be excited about. For the current generation, and perhaps the one before that even, it is a time where fans can actually be anticipatory of the season rather than having a plethora of “what if’s” over their heads.

With the arrival of John Tavares, the highest paid second line centre in the league, and the “not so surprising” emergence of some of the young players, this Leafs team has the first legitimate shot at a Stanley Cup for years.

But rather than sit back and enjoy it, which many people are trying to do, Twitter and Facebook are riddled with couch potato prognosticators who are trying to find any angle possible to bring this team down.

First, there is the old “we have no defence” approach, that at one point may have held merit. However, here we are at the beginning of the season and the powers that be have faith in the back end, so we must as well.

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But recently there have been rumblings about this team’s “truculence”, to quote a former general manager who was run out of town.

IMHO, the days of looking for the big rough and tumble forward to help keep the other team honest are over. It is archaic thinking that can bog other teams down. These players tend to get overvalued and seem to under deliver in today’s game.

I was listening early Tuesday morning to the NHL network on Sirius XM — if you don’t have it…get it — and they were talking about other teams around the league. They came to the Edmonton Oilers’ current situation.

Did you know that on their number one Power play line, the guys on the show (I cannot remember who they were) have Milan Lucic penciled on the wing of Connor McDavid? Lucic?! Top line?!?!

They followed this up with, “If Lucic cannot get it going, Ty Rattie can fill the spot.”

Now these guys were just telling it how it is, but it reverberates deeper than that, as the days of the quintessential Power Forward are over.

You can play that game…but you had better have game!

I am of the ilk that I love to hate the Brad Marchand‘s of the world. Hate to play against him, but would love to have him on my team/

However, those players have to happen organically and HAVE to show a level of skill in order to hold their spot in the lineup. See Dustin Byfuglien.

Lucic carries a contract hit of $6 million until 2022-2023. WHAT?!

Remember the days when every Leaf fan out there wanted the brass to sign every big name every July 1. I do! And it was nice to finally go in to a preseason and not have to say, “Well, I know those guys are in the line up, but where are we going to find player X?”, hoping that someone would emerge in camp. See Rattie.

I even read on one tweet that the Toronto Maple Leafs should have gone out and done whatever they could to get Max Domi. (Head shake….to the point of seeing black dots!)

Listen, everyone is afraid of being “pushed around” in the playoffs and I agree that has happened in the past. However, it is a new day in the NHL and the movement from big burly forwards who are going to paste you in the corner, à la Happy Gilmore (Don’t you ever touch my puck!), is upon us.

The league is shifting to a faster, more “wave-like” approach with the forward lines and even the D-men are getting smaller and more agile.

It is evident based on the small sample size of the preseason games, that you DO NOT want to take penalties against this Leafs team. Hell, even their penalty kill is lethal!

If the team can stay even on five on five for the year, their chances are unlike anything we have seen in a long time There is a new day arriving in the NHL and I believe this Leafs team is out in front leading the way.

The impact of delaying Marner's contract talks. dark. Next

Fruition may not happen this year, but the knocks on the door are starting, and are only going to get louder over time, to the point where a Toronto Maple Leafs team, with 51 years of hopes and dreams, are going to kick it in.