Sunday, July 5, 2009

Thoughts on Luke Schenn's season in Toronto

Had a quick chat with Dennis Beyak again and asked him for his impressions about Luke Schenn in a Toronto Maple Leaf uniform this past season.

Beyak, like me, remains curious as to whether another season in the WHL would have helped Schenn. With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, could you imagine Schenn in a Kelowna Rockets jersey last season?

"How would it have helped Schenn's development if he had been able to win a championship?" Beyak wondered aloud.

Early in the season, Maple Leafs' bench boss Ron Wilson was asked about keeping Schenn in Toronto and he suggested quite publicly that he did not believe the 18-year-old would receive the quality of coaching in the WHL that he'd receive in the NHL. When reminded that former NHLer Jeff Finlay was a member of the Rockets' coaching staff, Wilson chose to stick to his guns. However, those who are really in-the-know recognize that the Rockets have played a huge role in the development of some outstanding NHL defencemen over the past decade, including the likes of Schenn, Shea Weber, Josh Gorges, Duncan Keith, Alex Edler, Tyler Myers and Tyson Barrie.

For his part, Beyak believes Schenn was definitely up to the physical toll in the NHL, evidenced by his penchant to lend 'pugilistic support' to his teammates on the ice. Only time will tell if the Leafs address this issue before next season, in form of acquiring a player or two that will take this role out of the mix for Schenn. If not, the Leafs will again boast a skilled teenager with far more to offer than defending his 'softer' teammates.

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