Zack Sill. The New Face of the Leafs. #mycolumn:

When the Leafs traded Daniel Winnik to the Pittsburgh Penguins, everyone focused on the picks the Leafs got for him. They represented a solid return. But no one, except me, talked about how the addition of Zack Sill made that trade a steal for the Leafs.

In the past 15 games you’ve seen why I talk about him so much. He represents the opposite of everything that is wrong with the Leafs. This is a guy that comes to the rink everyday and works. He earns everything. Doesn’t take a shift off. This is especially important when the Leafs fast-track college UFAs to the bigs without blinking an eye. That doesn’t show proper values. Guys like Zack Sill do. This guy gets paid nothing and still works as hard as he does. Even if you took the cap out of the equation, I’d rather have 12 Zack Sills than 12 Phil Kessels. Phil hasn’t won anything. Sill? He was a Pittsburgh Penguin. Enough said.
This is a guy that doesn’t need points to lean on as a crutch when fans question his work ethic. He defies stats. Zack Sill is 100% pure work ethic. 110% intangibles. That’s it. He doesn’t even know how to spell the word skill. He busts his ass. He’s a gamer. A grinder. The exact kind of pro William Nylander and Nazem Kadri need to see and emulate. This is who they should look up to.
When Dion Phaneuf is traded, there will have to be a new captain. I think Zack Sill should be that guy. He leads by example. The Nerds can say whatever they want but the proof is in the pudding – just look at Calgary. That’s a team made up only of Zack Sills.

If Calgary isn’t enough of an example, just think of the Leafs that pushed the Boston Bruins to the brink of elimination. That was a team that had a fourth line full of workers. Since then, the Leafs have reduced those roles on the team and the team has gotten worse. Coincidence? Not a chance.

This season has been a trainwreck, but as you know I am an optimist. Zack Sill is the biggest bright spot of 2015. Not only does Brendan Shanahan need to make him an offseason priority and sign him long-term, but needs to make him the face of this franchise moving forward.
If you don’t agree, just think about this – who do you want Mitch Marner, Dylan Strome, or even Connor McDavid talking to and learning from at their first NHL training camp – bad player Phil Kessel or good guy Zack Sill? 
  • Love the passion of your column. Zack is a guy that is needed on this team especially. When you say “that Kadri can learn from” it is like Kadri will learn and I am not convinced that he has learned anything since the Leafs drafted him. He has great hands and a swollen head and that has not changed since both his team and the League suspended him. He could be great, but only when the swelling in his head goes down.

  • STAN

    I’ve admired his hustle and tenacity since his first game as a Leaf. Yes, I agree he should an integral part of the Leafs next season and perhaps beyond. He has more skill than people give him credit for. He’s the right age to fit in with guys like Kadri and Rielly and Gardiner.

    But Captain? Not so fast.

    In fact, I’d say that after the disastrous Phaneuf Captaincy the Leafs would be well advised NOT to have a Captain. Four or five Assistants, yes, but they need not rush into anointing someone. Hockey is one of the only pro sports in which it is almost impossible to remove the ‘C’ without all sots of consternation, controversy and trade demands.

    • Shiner

      Agree with the writer. What can I say Sill is a Canadian and from the Maritimes comes from good stock. Was the same hard worker when I saw him as a Moncton Wildcat in the Q hasn’t change his style. What you se is what you get an honest effort evry game. I for one hope the Leafs keep him.