What Should The Maple Leafs Do With Luke Schenn?

A good Friday afternoon to all of you. Sir Damien has a very interesting take on Luke Schenn in his blog today.

He starts off in left field, talking about the franchise in general, the leafs learn nothing from their past:

“They like to talk about the team’s status as a famous, ancient franchise, but not about the 41 years without a Stanley Cup. They forgot why, after four Stanley Cups in the 1960s, they got rid of Punch Imlach, and were then stunned when Imlach didn’t do a great job when he was hired again.”

A couple of things came to mind, first The Chicago Cubs, and Second the Boston Red Sox. Teams that have won in the past and had LONG droughts like to recall the glory years. Case closed. Move along.

Then Damien makes a quick turn and starts to talk about what should be done about young Ian Turnbull, I mean Luke Schenn:

“We’ve run into this dichotomy again at Leaf camp this year with the Luke Schenn debate, and we in the media are as much at fault as anyone else. Schenn is fresh and new, and thus a good story, and any mistakes he has been making have thus been papered over to serve the story.”

As the defibrillator cools, from restarting my heart after reading that, it occured to me that there really is no choice to be made here. Schenn has to go back to juniors. Damien is mostly right, the media is entirely to blame for this speculation. We, as fans as Howie put it, have no other vehicle to access the team. Therefore we can’t be creating this “noise”.

“The very same people that continually slam the Leafs for failing to draft and develop effectively are now suggesting the right move is to keep this teenage defenceman with the big club this season.”

Bingo! Give the man a cigar! Those, very same people were all in the press box with you the other night at the ACC. They are the Toronto Sports Media. With apologies to the few that are worth 2 cents, Damien is talking about you (and this includes Damien, who tomorrow will write about how Schenn has to make the team or he clearly isn’t a good prospect at all).

“The Leafs only have one blue-chip prospect, and that’s Schenn. Why would you risk anything with this young man? There’s no risk sending him back to junior and having him lead the national junior team, and all kinds of risks inherent in keeping him in the NHL.”

There is no downside to sending him down, none, zero Nada. Injury isn’t one, he could get injured here. Coaching argument is BS, his coaches got him this far. There is nothing to loose and everything to gain by sending him down. Not to mention the message it sends around the league that the Leafs are doing it right this time.

“Folks – reality check time. It doesn’t matter how good Schenn is now. It matters only how good he is by age 24 or 25 when the team, possibly, is back to contender status.It just shouldn’t matter whether he’s capable of playing in the NHL right now. The young man could be a treasure, and that needs to be handled with care.”

Agreed. We don’t need him to be a stud, this year. Who cares how they do this year. It’s about the future. Do the right thing and send him down. If you want to wait the 9 games so he gets the flavor, that’s fine too, after that, adios.

“To be fair, neither Ron Wilson nor Cliff Fletcher have committed either way on Schenn, so perhaps there’s still time for common sense to prevail.”

They actually have commented. They have said the right thing. We aren’t going to rush him. He would have to blow us away. The only one so far making an issue, again is the media.

“Leaf fans should rejoice in the fact that the team, it would appear, has drafted a bona fide stud to build the blueline around. If it all pans out, he’ll be a fixture for a decade or more.”

Wow, someone took his happy pill today! I agree 100% with this. Does that mean, by extension, that perhaps, just perhaps, Cliff et all have a clue as to what they are doing????

“Which means letting him to continue to develop in junior hockey for one more year is the right thing to do.”

At least until tomorrow when I think of a reason he should be up here….

read damien here.

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October 3, 2008 6:48 pm

I was watching one of those hockey shows that had McLean (Former GM of Blue Jackets) on it and he said something about the possibility that Schenn could actually digress (is that the right word?) by going back to junior. He had a bunch of reasons why that I can’t entirely remember so that probably doesn’t help much, sorry.

Any thoughts on that?

Anyone think of any significant high pick prospects that didn’t make their NHL club and actually got worse after going back to junior. Would Angelo Esposito count or are his problems much more complicated perhaps.

Anyways, just wondering if it would be a concern at all.

October 3, 2008 8:44 pm

There are 2 arguments that I have heard:

1. If he goes to juniors TML can’t control the coaching he will get
2. He may be lazy in the juniors, i.e. he may be too good, things may come too easy and he won’t progress.

As for the first, I don’t buy it. Coaching got him here. If Schenn is that type of player, then that is in his DNA….he either is, or he isn’t. Maclean has said that is a tough call. In his mind he is a player is either ready or he isn’t, it is really that simple.

October 4, 2008 12:38 am

Agree…Schenn could play in the NHL and be successful…but it’s not worth the risk…play the odds. Let the guy play another year of OHL hockey and get a ton of confidence leading the Canadian Juniors.

If he does REgress than he’s not wired right/to be a winner.

The Meatriarchy
October 4, 2008 9:44 am

Didn’t Damien say a couple of months ago that Schenn wasn’t a good pick and should have gone in the second round?

Or am I thinking of someone else? I have skimmed his columns and blog and can’t find anything to that effect. Perhaps he said it on radio or TV?

October 4, 2008 9:58 am

I think what he said was that the Leafs shouldn’t have traded all that they did to get him, that he wasn’t worth it, and that making the deal was a contradiction to building with lots of picks etc.

October 5, 2008 11:16 am

I think it’s more likely a player would regress if he let his disappointment at beign sent down get to him and sulked a little bit instead of putting in the same effort he had before.

And a lot of that, I think, is communication. If he is told that the team expects big things from him, but right now what is best for his development is to play more minutes and in more situations and really work hard on the parts of his game that he needs to improve in an environment where he won’t be crucified if he makes a mistake, he’ll take it the right way. If the team just tells him, “sorry, you aren’t good enough” then he is more likely to not work as hard (at least initially).

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x