The season is underway for the Toronto Marlies, who look like a much different team from the last two seasons. There’s a new coach. There’s a new captain. There’s an almost entirely new roster. Even Ricoh Coliseum has fancy new lights, boards, glass, goal lamps, and photos everywhere. For all intents and purposes, the only thing that connects the back to back North Division champions to this years roster is probably the team logo. This weekend was an interesting one to get a feel for the new dynamic.
Needless to say, Smith wanted to make a big first impression this weekend. With five points in two games, it’s safe to say he’s making the impact that he wants to.
His first game brought him an assist on a smart pass back to T.J. Brennan, and a role-reversal as Brennan caught him near the front of the net in overtime, with Smith’s shot just trickling in to win the game.
Sunday brought Smith two goals and an assist. The first looked inspired partially by FIFA 14, partially by Russ Tyler in Mighty Ducks 2, as he kicked down an airborne puck and chopped a knuckler into the top right corner. The process was all planned. "We talked about it in between periods, trying to get it to me in the middle, just to open things up for the point shot, and it just kinda came. I hit it with my knee, then it just bounced and hit someone in front." The shot itself though? "It was a lucky goal, but a powerplay goal in a game we weren’t too sharp on."
His second goal came from a heads up rush with Spencer Abbott, who’s who was doing the up-and-down with the Maple Leafs and made his Marlies season debut last night. "Abbs is a great player, he sees the ice very well, and as you can see, he can dish the puck, and made a great pass on that 2 on 1."
Today, the Leafs made their call ups and Smith took Abbott’s place. In most cases, Smith would require waivers to come back down (wouldn’t it be something to lose your captain two games into his tenure?), but because he cleared on September 29th, he has 22 more days where he can freely bounce between the two clubs. Judging by his feelings about coming here, I’m sure he’s more than happy.
"It’s the Toronto Maple Leafs. What else can you say? It’s an honor to wear the Maple Leaf on your chest, and this whole organization, top to bottom is top notch."
As for wearing the C, the method to his madness is simple, but efficient. "Just making sure everybody’s on the same page, and that guys are staying focused on the ultimate goal." Tyler Biggs is one of the rookies that will be looking up to Smith, and has so far. "He’s a great guy in the room, and a great guy on the ice. He’s vocal, and he can get us going."
But is he enjoying it outside of the room? "I’m loving it. It’s great. Just walking out, high fiving fans in between periods and warmups. We’ve got a lot of support here, and it feels good winning at home."
My first impressions? Smith is actually a lot like his predecessor, Ryan Hamilton, in that he gains his advantages by being in the right position on both sides of the ice, with no fear of using his body, for a hit or a block. The only thing that stuck out as a negative to me is what appeared to be a payback hit in the third period that had saw him head to the penalty box. But I’ll withhold judgement on that. For now, my expectations have been heightened a bit, much like Trevor’s have with his young teammates.
"I see a lot of skill from our young guys. They’re stepping up early, and they’re making plays you don’t really see from rookies coming into the league. Having that this early in the year, once we bottle that up and make sure we’re on the same page with that skill.. I think we could be pretty successful."
Follow Trevor Smith on Twitter at @__tsmith. Photo courtesy of Christian Bonin / TSGPhoto.com