What these Maple Leafs have lost since the offseason in speed and skill they have gained twice over in heart and leadership. The Maple Leafs now seem to take pride in wearing the blue and white. I understand that the leafs have only played well in 2 games this year (against Nashville and Pittsburgh) but they are competing for two points every game. This Leaf team is able to compete no matter their play and I believe it is because of the heart and leadership that this team has acquired and developed.
The acquisition of Dave Bolland I believe is going to be the biggest of the offseason. Bolland grew up loving the Leafs. Clearly, he is proving it on the ice game in and game out. Just as the departed Grabovski before the horrible year he had last year, I find myself saying every night "Bolland was the best Leaf out there tonight". Unlike Grabo, Bolland's play rubs off on his teammates and he seems to be already entrenched in the core of this team.
David Clarkson is an automatic when it comes to a player that brings heart and leadership every night. Clarkson has Tucker type of tenacity (say that three times fast) and loyalty, thats why the boys love him. He is able to impact the game every time he's on the ice. He sets tempo and will be an integral part of the Leafs finding their identity this year.
Something has to be said about the captain of this team. Dion Phaneuf, I believe has developed into a solid leader as he has the ability to welcome new leadership into his dressing room. Phaneuf was once heralded as an egotistical hot-head in Calgary, our Phaneuf seems to be a proud open-minded leader. All of the players on this team speak highly of him, yet the media constantly argues the decision to make him captain. Clearly, the team believes he is and shouldn't that be the voice that matters the most. To be honest he is their captain and not the fans' and the Maple Leafs players, coaching and management seem to like their choice. You cannot downplay Phaneuf's abilities both on the ice and off it when the Leafs are winning, since It never seems his faults are never downplayed.
The Leafs core is beginning to grow and take shape. I for one am liking this core more and more, game by game. Every night we see someone step up, Kessel continues to grow and get better, McClement is blocking shot after shot on the penalty kill, van Riemsdyk is looking like the 2nd overall pick that he is and the goaltending is battling to keep the Leafs in the game. This Maple Leaf team will grab the hearts of this city and there will be many folklorish names that will be forever remembered. This team has made this writer believe that they have the ability to do something special and this writer believes they will make you all feel the same.