Putting The Rough Back In Scarborough
I have had this article in the drafts for awhile now. Over a year ago at the 2019 trade deadline, one of my more reliable sources leaked a nugget of info that put Leafs' nation in a frenzy.
Unfortunately in less than 24 hours from that tweet, The Wayne Train rerouted and arrived in Nashville and I had to put this blog on ice - until this past thanksgiving weekend.
Commie may have jumped the gun at the 2019 trade deadline but he spoke it into existence. It's not very often fans get excited for a one year deal at 1.5m. But Simmonds giving Scarborough the hometown discount over Montreal on thanksgiving weekend has already made him the fan favourite.
And The Wayne Train arrived home with some heavy cargo this weekend. The Buds were the most active club this free agency, changing nearly a third of the roster.
We may have lost some good soldiers this off season (Clifford and Kappy) but we do bring in 2020 Stanley Cup champion Zach Bogosian, TJ Brodie and Jim Vesey.
Although I am a little unfamiliar with his body of work, TJ Brodie headlines this group. He was one of the top free agent defencemen available and we locked him in for four years at 20m. Although the BBM research and development team was able to spot a few red flags with this signing.
Thankfully Brodie isn't here for dust ups and the newly acquired Bogosian will be able to compensate for that. Bogo is hot off a Stanley Cup run, bringing some stones and experience to the right side of our defence.
But for those still not sold...
When you roll into training camp in a modified Escalade on 24's with TVs in the back, while wearing an affliction shirt - I'll offer you a contract before I see you skate.
Jim Vesey comes crawling back to the Leafs after passing Toronto up four years ago when he was a free agent entering the NHL. JV pulled a power move on Nashville who drafted him, informing the Predators he has no intention signing there and will be meeting several other teams instead. Toronto had their name in the hat and it came down to the Buds and New York but Vesey chose The Big Apple.
After four years of under-performing, Toronto signs Jimmy at league minimum - essentially becoming the true victors of the Vesey Sweepstakes.
But the one transaction that may override the Simmonds signing. Turkey dumping Tyson Barrie.
I am positive all the level-headed fans in Edmonton will be more welcoming to Tyson...
Thankfully Wayne never had any problems finding success over here in the pressure cabin of Toronto.
Taking his first steps on ice behind the Scarborough Town Center mall, Wayne comes from a scrappy circle of Scarborough NHLers.
From Toronto government housing, to the high life in Hollywood. We likely will never witness a rags to riches story in the NHL like this one again - and he did it with his two best friends (the Stewart brothers) who followed similar footsteps. Growing up poor and playing most of his minor hockey in AA, with no interest in his gangly, late-blooming skill set from AAA clubs, playing in the NHL was nearly impossible. His whatever-it-takes mentality should be an inspiration for all minor hockey players.
His new teammates share the same excitement as the fans, with almost every Maple Leaf texting him the day he signed. Seems like the Buds are using the same blueprints as Champa Bay. Much like the Leafs, the Lightning got laughed out of the playoffs in 2019 by Columbus and surrounded their core with role players and grit.
We may be one more addition away from being a true contender but putting the rough back in Scarborough is a great start.