Toronto Maple Leafs: Giving Up The Grit

On Monday March 4, the buzz around Toronto centered around the trade of Maple Leafs forward Mike Brown.

The right winger was traded to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for a conditional draft pick. The trade left many Leaf fans shaking their heads and wondering why the move had been made.

Brown was the type of guy that brought a lot of grit and energy to every game he played. Even his Toronto teammates were sad to see him go. Leafs centre Nazim Kadri tweeted, “Can’t say I was happy with the decision … I was very disappointed. He’s a guy that’s awesome on so many levels.”

The trade comes at a crucial time for the Maple Leafs. Joffrey Lupul is slated to return from his forearm injury and with Matt Frattin back from having knee surgery, trading Brown needed to happen in order to make room on the roster. Whether or not this is a good trade is hard to tell at this point in time. Leafs general manager Dave Nonis must have thought forwards like Colton Orr and Frazer McLaren are doing enough in the gritty side of the game in order to justify trading Brown.

If you examine the last four games the Leafs have played since trading Brown they have a record of 2 wins, 1 loss, and a shootout loss. The day Brown was traded away, the Leafs played New Jersey and won in a come-from-behind victory 4-2.

The Leafs then played the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday and won in a game that saw the Leafs’ 5-2 lead diminish in the 3rd period; winning by a score of 5-4. The next day the Leafs traveled to Boston to take on the Bruins.

Although the Leafs lost by a score of 4-2, the game was closer than the score suggests. It was evident the Leafs were lacking some of the energy that a guy like Brown would usually provide. The Leafs were shut out the last time they played the Bruins, it was nice to see that they could at least put some goals on the scoreboard this time around.

When the Leafs traveled home on Saturday to square-off against the Pittsburgh Penguins, they would have the likes Matt Frattin back in the line-up.

He managed to get an assist in the shootout loss that saw the Leafs rally from behind to tie the Penguins at 4 before the end of regulation. The Leafs haven’t been bad but there is definitely some room for improvement.

Since trading Brown, the Leafs appear to be a little bit sloppier defensively but expect head coach Randy Carlyle to work it out and fix the minor problems.
The Leafs head into this week playing against the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday, the Penguins on Thursday, and the Jets again on Saturday.