AND THE LEAFS' WINNER IS...

Steve Lansky
January 31 2011 09:00AM

I think it’s important that, in light of the Leafs’ continually disappointing play, that we don’t get mired in negativity here. Even though the Leafs are currently 12th in the East (43 points in 49 GP) and 14 points out of a Stanley Cup Playoff spot, there have been many positives surrounding the club this season. Let’s assume (and this is a ridiculously broad assumption) that only Leafs’ players were eligible for the season-ending NHL Awards. Here’s who’d win what so far…

If only Leafs were eligible for the NORRIS TROPHY, the winner would be LUKE SCHENN.
In recent years, the Norris has gone to a reasonably high-scoring defenceman. I hate that tradition, so selecting Schenn was easy. He has, by far, been the Leafs’ most consistent blueliner this season. Frankly, this strong start to his third NHL season surprised more than a few people. But he’s not surprising anyone anymore. His -2 rating is the best among Leafs’ blueliners (Carl Gunnarsson also -2) and any goals (two) or points (ten) Schenn gets are a bonus. He logs over 30 shifts per game. Any NHL team would be grateful to have him. Nice drafting, Cliff Fletcher. Honourable mention goes to Dion Phaneuf. Ya, you read that right. The guy really started to find his physical game of old just before the break. I expect that to continue.

If only Leafs were eligible for the VEZINA TROPHY, the winner would be JAMES REIMER.
I know, that’s completely absurd. The guy’s only played eight games this season. But his save percentage (.933) and goals-against average (2.24) are miles better than either J-S “Wait, let me fall to my knees before you shoot” Giguère and Jonas “Watch how fast I can turn a good start to the season into a tank job” Gustavsson. Here’s the question…if the Leafs had to win one game tomorrow to get into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, who would you want in goal? Exactly.

If only Leafs were eligible for the HART TROPHY, the winner would be MIKHAIL GRABOVSKI.
No brainer. Even though he was held pointless in the three games going into the break, he is the Leafs most dynamic, creative player this season. Without Grabovski’s breakout in early December, who knows where the Leafs would be. My guess is, looking up at the Islanders and Senators. But honourable mention must go to Clarke MacArthur – leading the team in scoring (40 points) in the best season of his five-season NHL career.

If only Leafs were eligible for the JACK ADAMS AWARD, the winner would be…non-existent.
Sorry, but there’s no chance in hell we’re giving the Coach-of-the-Year award to Ron Wilson. Yesterday, during HNIC’s coverage of that absurd thing the NHL refers to as the “All-Star Game,” Wilson was voted as the coach NHL players would “Least Like to Play For.” That’s about right. He has the warmth of a snow pea (cred. Robin Williams). One of these days (sadly, not likely until June), Brian Burke will realize it’s time for a coaching change in T.O. I count the days.
 

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Steve Lansky's first exposure to the game was at storied Maple Leaf Gardens, running downstairs at the end of every period just to watch the great Dave Keon walk off the ice to the room. A decade later, while he was still in high school, Oilers' head coach Glen Sather asked Lansky, "Hey, how'd you like to be our team statistician?" In 1983, at the age of 22, Lansky became the youngest producer in the history of CBC's Hockey Night in Canada, giving him a front-row seat to the Edmonton Oilers' dynasty. Lansky also helped launch Rogers Sportsnet's fledgling hockey coverage when the network made its début in 1998. You can follow him at bigmouthsports.com and at twitter.com/bigmouthsports
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