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?