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Giguere number one; Kaberle has to "fit"?

There’s nothing like a little team outing (in this case, a golf tournament) and a few media folks hanging about to add fuel to the fire.

Part of the fun of being a Leaf supporter is that there is rarely nothing to discuss. Oh, the discussion is often just to pass the time, and therefore largely irrelevant.  Yet every once in a while, if you read between the lines (or actually just read the actual lines) you get a sense of what just might be going on in the minds of those who run things down at the ACC.

So this week’s public comments by Leaf management, coaches and players created a nice headwind for conversation before training camp even really kicks off.

Let’s review a few of the topics:
o Giguere evidently goes into the camp as the “number one”. Makes perfect sense. I didn’t completely expect a formal announcement on this one, but he’s the guy with experience and a Stanley Cup on his resume. Better to have Giggy start as the top guy, and if he plays better than some of us expect, all the better. If Gustavsson were the “starter” but then falters, his confidence may waver unnecessarily. Fans would all start to imagine awful outcomes. No need for that. If Giguere goes through tough times, Gustavsson will likely be chomping at the bit to get in and play. So Giguere as "the guy" for now is the probably best of all possible worlds—though we haven’t played a game, yet.

o The coach has confidence that Kadri, with a little more muscle and some learning lapped up last year at camp, will indeed be ready to take on the role of second line center. Sure. I mean, it’s not like it’s never been done before, that a youngster out of junior steps in right away and makes a difference on one of a team's top lines. Personally, I’d rather Kadri start the year with the Marlies and earn a call-up, but that’s why GM’s make decisions, coaches coach and folks like me, well…we comment.

o Kaberle, Wilson and Burke all had their say on the much-discussed strained relationship between Wilson and his 12-year veteran. They can all deny there is an issue, that it doesn’t matters what “others” say (i.e. Kaberle’s Dad), but what else would we expect them to say?

o As I posted a couple of weeks back, my guess is, if your Dad’s not happy about something, chances are you aren’t either. A few months away from the stresses of the day-to-day NHL stuff should help, in theory. But there obviously is an “issue”. Burke was quoted as saying he’s had situations in the past where he’s has had to sit down with guys and lock the door, until things were settled. That’s no shock. And the media certainly wants to play this up.  But the most revealing (and important) comment of all came from Kaberle himself. As quoted in the Sun, he said, of his playing style “It’s always fit perfect, and if it doesn’t, I will have to move on”.  Not to over-analyze, but the key phrases are self-evident. The implication is that his “style” has always been perfect—in the past. He goes on to say, as clearly as you can say it, that if the way he plays is not a fit now, then he’ll have to move on—which is what his Dad was talking about weeks ago.

Komisarek probably spoke for the rest of the team when he said they have (hopefully) bigger things to deal with than Wilson/Kaberle, as in, getting ready to be a team that’s hard to play against this season. That echoes what I wrote about yesterday. You can like or not like that the new captain is saying this is a playoff team and not making the playoffs is “unacceptable”.

At the end of the day, all we want to see is someone leading. And while words sometimes help, players know it’s way more than that. To be a leader, you have to display the qualities that will pull others to want to actually “follow”. Hopefully Phaneuf will display those qualities and everyone will play their role.

And if the Leafs really do become “hard to play against”, that would be a pretty good start.


  1. every off season, the leafs say 'we're gonna be a tougher team to play against', and every year, they've been easier to play against. their record has slipped every year since the 06-07 season.

  2. Kulemin-Bozak-Kessel. By mid-season it just might be D'Amigo-Bozak-Kessel. Honorable mention to Mueller-Kadri-Versteeg, tho that may not be until next season.