Mike Komisarek is a veteran. He is in his ninth National Hockey League season, his second on the Maple Leafs’ blueline. Based on his salary this season and experience, Toronto’s “Six Million Dollar Man” is a leader.
Whether he likes it, or whether you like it, Komisarek is a leader on this club. That’s why it’s impossible to understand what he said after Saturday night’s pathetic loss in Philadelphia.
Komisarek was asked about the Leafs’ second consecutive weak effort, first against the Rangers, then the Flyers and he began his answer by saying, “We’re coming into the games against hungry and desperate teams…”
Whoa! Let me see if I’ve got this right. Komisarek just referred to the Rangers and Flyers as hungry and desperate. The clear inference to be made is that the Leafs are not as hungry and desperate as their opponents. Now, you know damned well that MK didn’t check the standings as he was removing his equipment.
He knew, before each game, that each opponent was struggling to break three-game losing streaks.And that’s why it’s completely unacceptable to have one of your leaders admitting other teams in the league are more motivated than the Leafs are. How are fans supposed to react to hearing that?
The word disgust comes to mind. That is the sickening aspect to this. The Leafs were cognisant that the Rangers and Flyers were both struggling, yet they didn’t come out and hammer them into submission – either with fists or effort.
OH NO YOU DIDN’T
They didn’t come out skating in Philly. They didn’t come out hitting.
They did, however, come out not shooting and coughing it up like they were being checked for hernias (nice job, François Beauchemin). It was a horrific defensive effort. For a team with no offence, strong defensive efforts are the only things that are going to keep them in games.
And for a team whose defensive efforts had been noteworthy so far this season, the entire operation simply came apart. Captain Dion Phaneuf was so bad (-3 rating) that Ron Wilson decreased his number of shifts every period (ten in the first, then six, then five in the third). Phaneuf only played fifteen minutes of hockey.
That’s almost ten minutes less than his season average. And Toronto gave up more than three goals for the first time all season. John Mitchell drew into the line-up for Mike “The hardest working man in the NHL” Zigomanis. Mitchell played over 14 minutes of invisible hockey.
Never saw him. Not once.
HE’S NOT ALONE EITHER
I understand that when a team loses, line-up changes are coming, but inserting John Mitchell is not a step up. Kris Versteeg – one goal in seven games – is now officially in a slump. Mikhail Grabovski was on his game in Philly…but still has no goals to show for his efforts this season.
Through the Leafs’ first four games of the season, their superb defence was due, in part, to an active offence. Now that part of the equation is gone. The six blueliners who dress every night have got to figure out ways to successfully work together. There are no quick defensive fixes on the horizon. Replacing Jean-Sébastien Giguère in goal with Jonas Gustavsson is not a solution because Jiggy has been playing well – although he was down early on a couple of goals in Philadelphia.
This team is going south fast and the four wins to begin the season seem like a hundred years ago. Leafs’ fans have every right to be disappointed, especially after a surprisingly vibrant start to the season. And because of comments like Komisarek’s, which take you right inside a players’ motivation and mental game.