Recently I had the opportunity to spend some time with one of the newer Leafs, Jamal Mayers. I admittedly knew little about him before he was acquired by the Leafs and I was eager to get his thoughts on his new role with the club. Strolling around Toronto on a warm summer's day and getting thoughts from an NHL veteran was an enlightening experience for me, and Jamal had lots to say.
We stop at a fine Jamaican roti place, order some food, walk around and talk hockey, life and everything in between. We went unnoticed around the streets of Toronto, given that Jamal's face isn't recognizable to most Leaf fans it was understandable. This will change VERY SHORTLY. To say I was impressed with this man is an understatement. I believe Leaf fans will be very pleased to have him on the team.
I ask Jamal what his thoughts are on this upcoming season, what can Leaf fans expect from him? He tells me he plays an "honest" game, always brings his best effort and never takes a shift off. The Toronto native is looking forward to giving everything he can to play for his team. He grew up a Leafs fan and has never been more excited to an upcoming season than this year.
He'll bring leadership and much needed toughness to the club. That much is understood. What isn't known are the intangibles he brings to the forefront. He'll be heard in the locker-room. Other players will be accountable to Jamal if they decide to take a shift off. He WANTS the Leafs to be the best team they can possibly be and damn anyone who gets in the way of that goal.
While we're strolling and chatting we see an elderly women waiting to cross the road. Cars won't seem to stop for her and she seems frustrated. Jamal immediately says "look at this poop!" and runs off to help her across the road. He flags down cars to stop and makes sure she gets across the street safely. This guy cares. I'm amazed that someone would take the time to do that and he tells me we're all in this together. "How you treat others says alot about who you are"
This is the quality type of player that Cliff Fletcher has brought on board. I can't tell you how many goals and assists he'll contribute, or how many opposing players will be quaking in fear as Jamal patroles the ice, but I do know that the Leafs are a far better club today for having this man's services. I've become a Jamal Mayers fan, I'm certain he'll win over many more Leaf fans as the season progresses.