The only thought I had after the Hab game to close out the season Saturday night was: at least the Leafs have all summer now to work on their special teams.
I was really happy last year when Tim Brent was called up for the last game of the season to play for the Leafs. Brent had worked his tail off with the Marlies and deserved the tap on the shoulder.
We all now know that, with that opportunity as a springboard, he came to camp and earned a spot against all odds with the big club—full-time, this past October.
Now Brent had been around for years, playing a bit with
Anaheim and but mostly fighting his way through the minors before getting his shot with the Leafs. Pittsburgh
I was hoping, as I posted a few days ago, that the similarly loyal and dedicated Marlie forward Ryan Hamilton would earn the opportunity to play his first-ever NHL game against the Habs at the ACC on Saturday night. He had earned it with his dedication, determination and the leadership he displayed in the minors the past three seasons in the Leafs system.
Instead, two young guys got the call: Matt Frattin and Joe Colborne.
Now, both of these guys may be part of the future, more so than
, I realize, but I find the decision, while hardly earth-shattering, one that sends a very different message from a year ago. Then it was, we (management) are watching, and the guy who plays the hardest, the longest, gets the call-up. Hamilton
This year, it just feels like they are trying to self-promote their own managerial decisions, having traded for Colborne in the big Kaberle swap, and signing the earlier-drafted Frattin the day after he played his last college game.
Hey, it’s great, on the one hand, to get a sneak preview of what’s in the Leafs’ young pipeline. And I'm sure it's very exciting for each of them. But I like to see players earn their way to the NHL. And especially after hearing for the past few years (please, Leafs, change that TV ad over the summer...) that “every game is a tryout”, I’m just wondering exactly what Frattin and Colborne have done to jump the queue?
Unless both of these guys are going to be big-time players for the Leafs next season, I’m not sure what the rush is now, just so they can play one game.
I am likely alone on this one, but I really believe it sends the wrong message, after sending the right message a year ago.