Tyler Bozak has been trust into first line duty out of necessity and a lack of centers on rebuilding team.
The question in the preseason was how would Bozak handle the first line role and was he the right guy and so forth.
In early portion of the season when Phil Kessel was scoring everyone was saying how great the chemistry was between Bozak and Kessel and the debate was mostly based on who the other winger should be.
Now that Kessel is mired in a slump the fingers are pointing at Bozak.
Granted Bozak only has a couple goals and scoring from the center position is important, the Leafs sit dead last in the NHL by a wide margin, but…
Teams are putting their number one defensive pairing out against Kessel, Bozak and Nikolai Kulemin/whoever ends up on the other wing…
And for Bozak in his first full season as a center on the big team not to mention the first line center in the biggest hockey market in North America, along with the massive pressure from the media and fans alike…
Can’t someone cut this 24 year-old kid some slack!
Was this kid a high draft pick who hasn’t panned out?
Was he acquired in a trade where Toronto lost out on a player/players that are succeeding somewhere else?
Did this guy come from playing hockey for the University of Denver as an undrafted player with some potential who then suddenly became the hope of Leafs Nation to be a great playmaker for their only legitimate offensive threat?
Not an easy place to be and between a rock and a hard place might be an understatement.
Certainly Bozak has shown sparks of creativity at the center position and he has scored a few really nice goals, 10 in his short 52 game NHL career.
The responsibility that’s been placed on, again this only 24 year-olds shoulders, is sorely misplaced and no fault of his but one of circumstance!
He isn’t a grizzled veteran or high draft pick nor should he be taking the criticism that would be otherwise rightly placed if he were.
Leafs Nation knew who he was when he was scooped out of college, a hopeful, but it seems everyone has really forgotten or is "misrembering" alla Roger Clemens who he really is.
I think it’s about time to stop the criticism and negativity that the great start the Leafs got off too brought about and realize they are rebuilding.
Patience is a word all too familiar to Leafs fans but it is the fact of the matter at this point for a youthful team who is experiencing growing pains that were expected at the beginning of the year.
Pointing fingers and placing blame on a team that lacks star power and is in a rebuilding phase has hindered the Leafs in the past and has led general managers to be pressured into trading away youth for temporary fixes that haven’t equated to the final goal, the Stanley Cup.
Hopeful Brian Burke keeps his cool, which I believe he will and I believe he has a plan that will SLOWLY take shape.
He has put together a solid defense core and goaltending tandem and in time the forward lines will take shape as the youth down on the farm develop.
If there were a trade out there that brought Toronto Brad Richards, Bobby Ryan or any of the other names that have been thrown around that didn’t remove pieces of the picture Burke is painting, he would have made the deal!
Lets all take a deep breath understand again we are in a rebuilding phase, and that Rome wasn’t built in a day.
GO Leafs GO!
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