Leafs fans should be excited for the prospect of Morgan Rielly suiting up on the blueline for years to come.
As long as one of those years isn’t 2013-14.
The 19-year-old first-round draft pick is better served playing his final year of junior with the Moose Jaw Warriors of the Western Hockey League. If the Leafs upper brass truly has the future of Rielly, and the Leafs defence, prioritized correctly, he’ll be spared from the tempest of Toronto once his nine-game audition with the Leafs is complete.
Why subject the club’s best prospect to the expectations of the team that, just five months ago, ended a seven-year playoff drought, only to collapse in a first-round exit in the most horrific manner possible?
Rielly has looked fantastic in training camp. But a series of games versus depleted opposing rosters is hardly a gauge of the NHL-calibre grind – didn’t the Marlies play Grand Rapids on Saturday night at Air Canada Centre in a game billed as the “Leafs” versus “Detroit”?
You didn’t have to be around in the 80’s when young blueliners Bob McGill, Fred Boimistruck and Jim Benning were mismanaged by the Toronto franchise to have a sense of what could potentially happen when a defenceman is rushed into the game too early in his career.
The only Maple Leaf that Rielly should be wearing in December is that of the Team Canada World Junior sweater.
Many fans have been clamouring for no-touch icing for several years.
Yesterday the NHL announced that it has adopted the compromise – Hybrid icing – for the 2013-14 season.
“The players participated in a survey and a majority of teams supported this rule change in an effort to make the game safer,” said Mathieu Schneider, NHLPA Special Assistant to the Executive Director. “We are hopeful that the implementation of the hybrid icing rule, which is a middle ground between the old rule and no-touch icing, will help minimize the incidence of Player injuries on icing plays.”
Part of Rule 81.1 reads as follows:
For the purpose of interpretation of the rule, there are two judgments required for “icing the puck”. The Linesman must first determine that the puck will cross the goal line. Once the Linesman determines that the puck will cross the goal line, icing is completed upon the determination as to which player (attacking or defending) would first touch the puck. This decision by the Linesman will be made the instant the first player reaches the end zone face-off dots with the player’s skate being the determining factor. Should the puck be shot down the ice in such a manner that it travels around the boards and/or back towards the end zone face-off dots, the same procedure shall be in effect in that the Linesman shall determine within a similar distance as to who will have touched the puck first.
Bodog.ca has given the Leafs 18 to 1 odds to win the Stanley Cup, ninth-best in the NHL overall and third best in the Eastern Conference. This author needs to see more production from the centre ice position, plus a more physical defence that can clear the front of net before being as optimistic.
Season-opening prediction: Leafs to finish fifth in the East, and win one playoff round.
Stanley Cup final: Pittsburgh over Chicago.
Enjoy the games, everyone.
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