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Frattin, Colborne should not have been able to jump to the head of the line

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 Pittsburgh but mostly fighting his way through the minors before getting his shot with the Leafs.

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 Hamilton, 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.

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.


  1. I understand your concerns as some Marlies may feel underappreciated or overlooked by this move. However, when you look at the season in general, the following guys has been called up to the big club at some point: Greg McKegg, Mike Zigomanis, Luca Caputi, Christian Hanson, Marcel Mueller, Ben Scrivens, Korbinian Holzer...not to mention Darryl Boyce, Joey Crabb, Tim Brent, Matt Lashoff, Jay Rosehill, Nazem Kadri, Keith Aulie, and James Reimer who have all earned spots on the roster. That's a lot of call ups from the Marlies, during one season, so if the guys down there don't see the potential of working hard to seek reward, then maybe they should remove their visors. The Leafs have been more than fair with the Marlie organization, and I see this as giving 2 young guys a chance to get their first games out of the way, and to get a feel of what it is going to take to crack that lineup for next season.

  2. Hi Passion Returns...Those are fair points. They have certainly "rewarded" a number of Marlies this season. I just sense the game would have meant far more to Hamilton than the other two, and he has "put in" his time with the organization. The others have not, though they are clearly part of the future and will get plenty of opportunities to earn time with the Leafs as early as next season.

  3. I agree, it is definitely sending a different message than last year, but the difference in what the team needs is different this year. Last year their bottom six was slow, small and old, it was evident that we needed an upgrade (Hell, we loved Freddy Sjostrom last year). Hard work, and determination, were needed. This year, Colborne and Frattin are potential first and second line players, which is what the team needs.

    Frattin may not have spent any time in the AHL, but the hardest adjustments for players to make at the NHL level are with speed and size. If Colborne adds to his frame, and learns to use his body to his advantage, he will be dominant at the NHL level. Frattin didn't struggle with either of those, instead citing positional play as the biggest difference. I know we've only seen one game from Frattin, but he is the prospect I am most excited about, he was a difference maker out there

  4. I was trying to get my head around why the Leafs had both Colbourne and Fattin up for the last game of the year, burning off a year of ELC for both of them. I'm no expert on ELC, but I believe it brings them the RFA status a year earlier.

    Is it likely they were in the game as part of the contract process? Were they promised a game this year to burn off the year of ELC?

  5. Very interesting point- Does that nine-game rule apply in these circumstances (like at the beginning of the year, when a junior player can play up to so many games, or he uses up a year of his deal)?

    I do wonder, like you, if Frattin signing so quickly after his last college game was part of an informal agreement with him so he would sign right away, with no bickering.

    As for Colborne, my sense is Burke was showcasing the guy he got in return for Kaberle, to give Leaf fans a hopeful look-ahead going into next year.

    I still would have much preferred they reward one of the more veteran Marlies.