Toronto's tough guy

Every team needs a guy who will defend his team, a guy who can change the pace of a game with a fight. For many years the leafs had Tucker and Domi. Now Tucker is a goal scorer, and Domi is a TSN broadcaster. So where do the Leafs get their toughness from?

To be blunt, so far they’ve gotten it from no one. Tucker has had his moments, so has Belak, and Ondrus, but no player has established himself as the Leafs Enforcer. The Leafs have done well so far, which begs the question, do teams need an enforcer in the new NHL. Even if they don’t a clash of Enforcers is fun to watch, and makes the game more intense.

Belak is not the answer. He falls into the catagory of goon enforcer. He’s no good as a hockey player, he barely fights at all, and takes dumb penalties. He won’t be on the team once Kubina, Kronwall, and Colaiacovo get healthy.

Tucker is not the answer. He’s a good hockey player, don’t waste his talents on this.

I believe Ben Ondrus IS the answer. John Pohl is a good all around player. But I think the best way to take advantage of his talents is to keep him with the Marlies, then call him up as a fill in guy when a 1st or 2nd line scorer is injured. Quinn did that last year, and got 3 goals in 7 games out of him. Ondrus is the type of guy who will fight every now and then, and hit like crazy. He’s the type of player who can lay out a bone crushing hit, and change the pace of the game. And least of all, he’s a he;ll of a lot of fun to watch.

22 Responses to Toronto's tough guy

  1. mojo19 says:

    I like Ondrus, but I don't think I would send John Pohl down.

  2. BLUE_AND_WHITE says:

    he's got 1 goal and is -4. he's not a bad player, but he does much better in a goal scorig role, like he did last season with both the leafs and marlies.

  3. 92-93 says:

    Ondrus and Brown would be the preferable choices. but unlike this article's opinion, i do not believe that every team needs a fighter. its a dying part of the sport and the leafs have plenty of guys who CAN fight but choose to be useful players instead (i.e. Kilger, Tucker, etc.) and can fight when the need arises (i.e. somebody running Wellwood or Sundin).

  4. Aetherial says:

    I completely agree.

    Toughness is not about fighting. A team can certainly survive in the NHL today with a few guys who can drop 'em, and will if they have to, but who are not generally "enforcers".

    Enforcers are a waste of ice space in the NHL now.

  5. mojo19 says:

    Its true, he could always put the puck in the net when he got more minutes and played with Sundin. But since Maurice juggles the lines during the game and stuff, I think Pohl is going to get those chances, he was after all, on the ice with the goalie pulled vs the panthers the other night.

  6. mojo19 says:

    a waste, unless you got a guy like Boogard

  7. 92-93 says:

    With Ondrus being sent down, it looks like that fourth line will consist of Kilger-Pohl-Battaglia with the extra forward being Suglobov.

    but i think that Suglobov has to get regular ice time now. i know he makes mistakes and is struggling, but he isn't playing or progressing at all right now. Its not like he is a struggling vet a la Domi or O'Neill last year. he's  a young kid that cannot be sent down … PLAY HIM!

    Leafs have to play Suglobov and waive Belak. those are two most pressing issues right now for them. OH, and trade either Telly or Aubin when Telly gets off the injury list.

  8. 92-93 says:

    Unrelated: anyone watching or listening to the Marlies this year. I've been keeping a close eye on them. A disappointment has been rookie Robbie Earl. but its early for Earl so I'm not worried.

    The injuries to guys like Harrison, Woz, Kronvall and others have also hurt the team (and the Leafs).

    But the bright spots centre around 4 players IMO:

    1) Chris Harrington. Playing lots of minutes and is proving to be a pretty good 2-way forward. A good college signing for the Leafs. Should definitely make a guy like Bell expendable in a trade if the Leafs need to include him in a deal.

    2) Jeremy Williams. I keep harping on about this kid but he is just a smart player. He's got skills but he super intelligent with the puck and he's quick and got a pretty nice shot. I'd like to see him down the middle or on the right side of the leafs next year as a 23-year old. He's the next Wellwood or Steen IMO.

    3) Erik Westrum. Leading the team in points, but this 27 year old is just like Pohl, a career 4th liner but perhaps a solid one at that. I think the Leafs, once they rid themselves of Belak, could use Westrum (and Pohl, Battaglia) as a solid extra forward. And i think these guys are improvement on the extra forwards of the past (names like Wilm and Perrot come to mind).

    4) Justin Pogge. Telly and Racine have gotten some starts too, but its Pogge's numbers and his play that have really stood out. He's inconsistent right now, but when he is on his game he is miles above the other two goaltenders, which should indicate that he is the goalie of the future for the Leafs. Is he as good as Rask, probably not. We'll find out when Rask comes over for the Bruins. But Pogge has played solid in net after a shaky start.

    He, along with Dennis and Stephan, is probably the best young goalie in the AHL right now.

  9. BLUE_AND_WHITE says:

    If he  plays for the leafs he plays 5 minutes a game. Let him play 20 with the marlies, and save him as a callup if someone like tucker or O'neill gets injured.

  10. BLUE_AND_WHITE says:

    Harrington hasn't found his nhl niche, Bell is starting to find his. The NHL is a big step up.
    Williams is a great kid, he'll play in the nhl one day, no question
    Westrum, Pohl, and Suglobov are guys that will be 4th liners for life, which makes them expandable when they get into their early thirties because new young guys can take they're spots.
    Pogge needs to find his consistency. i think naming him the goalie of the future is too much to put on his shoulders right now. He may one day become the leafs starter, but thats a long time from now.

  11. 92-93 says:

    oh i know Harrington is a long way from the NHL, but in the next couple of years, he takes the pressure to keep a guy like Bell (and i realize i mistakenly called him a 'forward').

    Pogge is a long ways away from the NHL, no question about it. But he clearly has better skills and #1 goalie stuff – very easy to see when you watch Racine or Tellqvist play versus watching Pogge play.

    Westrum/pohl/suglobov are definitely 4th or at best 3rd liners. Williams seems like a solid 2nd liner to me right now. and i wouldnt be surprised if he'd find a home on the leafs' 2nd line as early as next year.

  12. 92-93 says:

    Have to love the way Maurice is coaching this club. After a game like tonight, 41 shots against, it seems that the leafs 'escaped' with a win. but not really. the fact of the matter, the score really should have been 7-4 Leafs. The Buds had so many chances and so many goal posts. so did the flyers, but not as many quality scoring chances.

    its good to see the leafs get off to such a great start. its good to see Gill not play so bad (despite his contract), or at least, not as bad as he could play. its good to see the young guys click. its good to see Kubina coming back to the blueline in the next couple of games.

    in any case, the Leafs WILL come back down to earth soon enough. But i am going to enjoy this run while it lasts. they've won 5 of their last 6, Kaberle is on a tear, Steen is coming along fine now, Poni, O'Neill, Stajan are providing great third and second line options for Maurice, Antropov is back and providing some size up front (how valuable was he tonight, even if he missed all those chances?).

    hey mojo, i knew Antropov would do something big this week, hopefully he'll keep it up.

    with Kubina, Antropov, Steen, and possibly Kronvall all returning to form or returning, the leafs have reason for optimism. the schedule is not really that difficult either, but they'll have to come down sooner or later.

    hopefully the panic in Leaf land won't be so bad (but we know it will be). Next up: a victory in Boston, a victory at home against the Habs, and the Leafs will have a solid grip on 4th place in the East.

  13. mojo19 says:

    Yeah you called it. I noticed a lot of Nik last night considering he only played 7 and a 1/2 minutes. And one of the biggest things to optimistic about has to be Andrew Raycroft last night. Didn't let out any big rebounds, just controlled everything and looked very comfortable in net.

    Gill and White continue to play well together, once Kubina is in there, the defense should be solid. Now don't say "they'll come back to earth" as much as you're probably right, they could have a lot more hot streaks than cold this year and definitely contend for 4th or 5th in the East.

  14. 92-93 says:

    well i think the big thing with Maurice this year is this notion of recovery and resilency. I dont think he'll let them lose 5 in a row or go winless in 10 games.

    with him, its all about the next game and playing your best for that game. He doesn't put up with much. how else can you explain the leafs losing to Ottawa 7-2 then dominating Montreal? or just stinking against Florida and the beating Buffalo? in years past, the leafs would just keep losing and then get on a win streak to cover it up.

    I dunno, i think they'll finish 6th-11th in the East (notice i've upped the ceiling on their potential, i originally said 8th-12th). there are just too many good teams in the East that just haven't found their groove yet.

    some positive stats though: Raycroft is between Belfour and Lehtonen in GAA, between Luongo and Kipursoff in Save percentage, leads the league in Saves, and is tied for 3rd in wins. 

    White is 2nd among rookie defensemen in points.

    And after a slow start, Kaberle is 3rd in Defensemen points, and McCabe is 9th. Before too long, they'll both be in the top-5, White and Kubina could both supply 30-40 points and maybe even Coliacovo could return to claim a top-4 spot.

    Sundin is 5th in points (but has played a lot of games though).

    and most importantly, if you look at the team leaders in points and goals, you'll notice just how DECENTRALIZED the team actually is. yes they are dependent on Mats, but there are 2nd and 3rd line players with 5 goals and 10 pts right now and are contributing on a consistent basis. good to see.

    i cant tell you how many times i told aetherial (and he agreed) that the leafs needed to trade some of their vets at the deadline last year (or sit them) in favour of younger kids, and that move would not only save them money but IMPROVE THEM as well.

    in the last 12 games last year, and through the first 15-20 this year, that philosphy is working.   

  15. Aetherial says:

    Yes, there is reason for optimism…

    Until I see McCabe and Kubina tieing up 11 million or so for the next 5 years. *sigh*

    They definitely look better with the kids playing.

    They will come back to earth methinks. I am feeling maybe a split in the next two games, at best.

  16. 92-93 says:

    that would suck. they should win the next two games.

  17. Kraut182 says:

    It'll be interesting to see what the pairings come out as with Kubina's return.  White and Gill seem to have a little chemistry, and have done well as the 2nd pairing, but with Kubina returning he belongs on the 2nd pairing (or may be the 1st if they break up Kaberle and McCabe).

    So do the Leafs break up White and Gill, or do they keep them together and increase Bell's ice time?  I'm not really sure which idea I prefer yet, although any defensive grouping not involving Wade Belak is automatically much better.

  18. mojo19 says:

    Kubina will probably play a little less ice time at first and work his way back in, but eventually, I would hope its:

    Kuby – Kaby
    gill – white
    Bell – mccabe

  19. 92-93 says:

    well, if you want a cursory answer, read this article.

    Maurice wants to go with this:


    Ok, but why is Wade F-ing Belak even in the friggin equation here? why is he in the equation on the front lines, competing with Suglobov for a spot on the forward lines while Mats is gone? WHY IS HE IN THE EQUATION AT ALL!?!?!

    frustrating. that a smart hockey guy like him is still playing Belak or even considering him.

    In a 4-on-4 OT, I could even see Bell and White playing together (like they did against the Rangers in OT).

    Belak should be nowhere in sight. Brown – yes. Woz and Harrison and Coliacovo when they return – yes. but NOT belak.

  20. leafmeister says:

    no team needs a designated enforcer ondrus or tucker will be good enough

  21. leafmeister says:

    no team needs a designated enforcer ondrus or tucker will be good enough

  22. leafmeister says:

    no team needs a designated enforcer ondrus or tucker will be good enough

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