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Throwback to when Leo Komarov was the Maple Leafs’ all-star

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Photo credit:Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Seney
25 days ago
If the Toronto Maple Leafs needed a scummy goal, they could call on Leo Komarov. The pesky winger was one of the best at throwing off opponents, getting himself tangled up in the dirty areas of the ice, and he wasn’t afraid to do absolutely anything it took to get the puck over the goal line. ‘Uncle Leo’ was a fan favourite throughout his four and half seasons as a Leaf and there was no better year than 2015-16 when the Estonian-born, Swedish-speaking, Russian-developed Finn was named to the All-Star game as the Maple Leafs’ representative.
Komarov was a heart-and-soul type, perfectly suited for a third line and at times, playing way too high in the Leafs’ lineup. Back then, the options were limited and Mike Babcock didn’t have much choice as he led the Leafs to a 29-42-11 record the season Uncle Leo was all-star worthy. Just so happens to be the dismal season which led to Toronto winning the draft lottery and selecting Auston Matthews. It all works out in the end, doesn’t it?
When 2015-16 came around, Komarov was used in a very different role than he was used to in blue and white. He was playing in the top six and producing. At the time he was named to be heading to Nashville for the festivities, Komarov was already putting up career highs, with 15 goals and 12 assists in 37 games. He’d finish the season with 19 goals and 17 assists in 67 games, as he didn’t do much offensively in the second half, after soaking in the all-star praise.

Komarov Had His Quirks

Back then the Leafs were a brutal hockey team. There were no expectations for success and as painful as it was to watch, it was entertaining as hell because of players like Komarov. He’d do whatever he could to piss opponents off and toed the edge of clean/dirty like a champ. He also had some serious quirks, which included wearing his visor on his forehead, which followed him around everywhere he played:
While he was a two-time KHL all-star before heading to North America as a sixth-round pick of the Leafs, Komarov had no business being among the league’s best in any fashion, but who cares, right? It was a great site and someone he’ll remember for the rest of his life.
Komarov went on to play two more years with the Leafs after his all-star selection and became a favorite in the dressing room with the young core. Everyone loved having him in the room and his entertainment level off the ice was something that trumped his value on the ice. Which unfortunately and fortunately for Toronto, led him to signing a four-year contract at $3 million AAV with the New York Islanders, which included a modified seven-team no-trade clause. It just so happened Lou Lamoriello was a couple of months into his new role with the Islanders and liked what he saw from ‘Uncle Leo’ in Toronto. Considering Komarov would go to score a combined 11 goals throughout the four-year contract, likely something Lamoriello would like to have back.
Regardless, good for Komarov to have his all-star selection in his back pocket and something nobody can ever take away from him. He was so fun to watch, and the perfect third-line pest who back in 2016 was punching way above his weight class when it came to ice-time.
Enjoy this trip down memory lane with Uncle Leo, NHL All Star:

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