Ex-NHLer calls out current Leafs blueline for playing a lot softer than they're capable of

Published August 30, 2023 at 9:10

As the summer comes to a close and players begin returning to their teams for informal skates and workouts, media members are also returning to their posts to prepare for the upcoming season. Yesterday marked the return of Leafs' Morning Take with Nick Alberga and former Leaf Jay Rosehill. On yesterday's episode they discussed the signing of Simon Benoit, what the Leafs still need to add and who they could potentially bring to camp on PTOs.

At one point in the episode, Rosehill touched on the lack of physicality from their D corps, but pointed out that the Leafs don't necessarily have to go out and bring a guy in to address that need. Rosehill, instead, called out the current group for not wanting to change their style of play.

"You can't ask a guy to go put up 50 points if it's just not there, but everyone can finish their checks. Everyone can play with a chip on their shoulder. It's so frustrating when a team needs something so badly and all these guys that are physically and mentally capable of it are just like 'not me'," said Rosehill, suggesting that the current defensive corps should simply change their style of play.

"You know this d-corps needs to bulk up and play a little bit stiffer and every guy is capable of it. You don't need to fight but play tougher, play meaner, finish your checks, don't get pushed around, stand up with your chest out. Why can't these guys do it? It drives me to no end especially when there's 6'3 bodies standing there and it's like 'we need a guy like this but we can't get it, we're at the cap and there's no one available and we don't have anyone to give up to get this guy' and it's like you can all do that show up on day 1 and play big and play mean and finish your checks and clear the crease and say f*** you to every guy that comes near your goalie. It's not that hard. It frustrates me when it's not even on their radar to attempt to do that."

The Leafs have at least added some of that element up front with Ryan Reaves, Max Domi and Tyler Bertuzzi, but may not have the room to do it on the back end, which is where Rosehill's plea is valid. Yes, they just acquired Simon Benoit, a 6'3, 205-pound defenseman, but Benoit won't likely be an every night player. What Rosehill is saying is that the guys who play every night need to play with a chip on their shoulder and play a complete game - which involves clearing the front of the net, finishing checks and not taking crap from the opposition. To an extent, we even saw some of this from Morgan Rielly in the playoffs.

Where I disagree with Rosehill is in his assessment that "it's not hard". He's speaking from experience from having played that type of a game. For some guys, they didn't make it to the NHL for their willingness to hit, fight and mix it up in the scrums. They're not built the same way that Rosehill is - not wired the same way. For some guys, these things don't come natural to them. So, in that sense, changing your entire game and your thinking process would certainly be a challenge. It's not to say that they shouldn't, it's just to say that it may not be as easy for some as it was for Rosehill, a forward, during his playing days.

August 30   |   113 answers
Ex-NHLer calls out current Leafs blueline for playing a lot softer than they're capable of

Do you agree with Jay Rosehill that the Leafs' D corps needs to play a little nastier?

Yes9785.8 %
No43.5 %
Just trade for a big, nasty D-man1210.6 %
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