|(above) DU alum Joe Colborne in his NHL debut against the Montreal Canadiens|
by Rob Longley
When Ron Wilson saw DU alum Joe Colborne make his NHL on Saturday night, the Leafs coach must have had a flashback to the days he coached jumbo Joe Thornton in San Jose.
Okay, perhaps just a mild one.
The Leafs prospect may be a year or more in the minors away from being an impact center in the NHL, but just seeing a big body up the middle has to make Wilson yearn for more of the same. Colborne notched an assist in his first game, a 4-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens.
For all of the improvement at the end of the season and all of the third- and fourth-line stability that has emerged, the Leafs aren’t going to go anywhere meaningful until they get bigger, better and tougher up front.
In fact, if there is one glaring deviation from general manager Brian Burke’s typical blueprint, it is that the Leafs lack the size and toughness he covets in a forward group.
The mere hint of something good down the road in Colborne, a 6-foot-5 center who can skate but at age 21 still needs to develop physically, points out how suspect the Leafs are down the middle.
DU's other alum Tyler Bozak wasn’t worthy of being a No. 1 center starting the season, certainly isn’t now and quite possibly will never be suited to that role. If it weren’t for the fact that Bozak was the team’s most effective faceoff man he may not have lasted in that role. In fact, with a blue-chip pivot in front of him, Bozak’s game may actually improve.
Overall, the Leafs have too many players that don’t do enough damage in front of the opposition net. Whether it’s size or unwillingness to go there, it has compromised them on too many nights over the past three seasons [read entire article].