The Maple Leafs signed defenceman Francois Beauchemin, late of the Anaheim Ducks, to a 4 year deal today. The deal brings an annual cap hit of about $3.8 million.
I am a huge fan of this signing, for several reasons:
- It will be hilarious to watch Montreal’s Lollipop Guild of Cammalleri, Gomez and Gionta spontaneously pee their tiny little pantses when the Leaf defence pairings stomp on to the ice this year. Seriously, the Leafs have more beef on the back end than Oprah, J-Lo and Tomas Holmstrom combined.
- The move gives Burke options. He can trade Tomas Kaberle for Jesus Christ and a (top five) first round draft choice or he can move some of the surplus second-tier blueliners now milling about the halls of the ACC, bumping into each other and the walls (such as Stralman, Van Ryn, Finger, Oreskovic, etc.) for more urgently required spare parts: “depth” (i.e. “crappy”) forwards or draft picks.
- Whatever the fate of Kaberle, adding a bona fide fearsome defender like Beauchemin on top of the earlier Mike Komisarek signing, the addition of Garnet Exelby (via trade with Atlanta) and the continuing threat of Luke “The Human Eraser” Schenn ensures that no one will come within approximately sixty feet of the Maple Leafs’ crease next season.
- This last fact ought to help in the “Monster” derby, the race to sign Swedish goaltender Jonas Gustavsson, which ought to help bring some depth to the goaltending position. This is a polite way of saying that the Leafs’ goaltending sucked donkey balls last year. I love Curtis Joseph dearly, but he did not play well, and an injured Vesa Toskala also turned in a performance best described as “weaksauce”. Why does the signing of Happy Trails Frankie help out in this regard? Ask yourself: if you were a young Swedish lad considering which team to join in order to make your NHL debut, wouldn’t you kind of want to go to a club where the defencemen treat attackers like Godzilla treats Japanese public transportation vehicles?
- It’s back to the future, man. Back in the day, when the Leafs were the shit instead of just being “shit”, their style of play was always defined by hard-nosed defence. The Leafs of the 50s and 60s were more about Horton and Stanley than they were about any fancypants offence. It’s how we do things in the Blue & White: crushing hip checks; solid positional play; gutsy shot blocks; pick and shovel, physical defence with a soupçon of elbows, facewashes and general bad-assery. Leaf fans have always been especially taken with the lunchpail brigade, but we are especially enamoured by players who patrol the blueline this way. It has been this way since of Red Horner and Bucko McDonald, through the Horton and Stanley era and more recently to guys like Sylvain Lefebvre, Dmitri Yushkevich and Danny Markov. This tradition is why Luke Schenn will be the captain of your Toronto Maple Leafs by 2012.
- I am really looking forward to seeing Beauchemin use his breath weapon to destroy Daniel Alfredsson.
Attaboy Burkie. I see the plan, and I like it. Watching the reaction to the Beauchemin and Komisarek signings in the twitterverse these past few days, I can tell you that your fanbase is definitely loving it too. (Side note: It was absolutely fascinating watching the Beauchemin signing in particular unfold via Twitter today; I saw a tweet that reported the signing, was able to confirm it via Sportsnet, then tweeted about the signing myself and watched as the news spread from person to person via re-tweets. Enjoying the salty tears of disappointment shed by Habs fans despairing of a lost opportunity was especially enjoyable when experienced in real-time. In all seriousness, though, the revolution has come. This is the way we’re going to get our information about things from now on.)
If the Leafs can’t land an elite scoring forward or two through trades this year (most likely immediate candidate for dispatch in this regard: Tomas Kaberle; dark horse trade bait: a rejuvenated and repaired Vesa Toskala), I am content to watch the young forwards like Tlusty, Grabovski, Bozak and Hanson try to make their way in the league. Some, if not most, of them will struggle and/or fail, and the team will similarly struggle to score goals. We may continue to lose games, and lose them often.
But I’m going to really enjoy watching this team play this year. There will be no easy nights for the Leafs’ opposition. Better still, I can see the foundation of the team being built and I can really foresee now, for the first time in a long time (since JFJ got his mitts on the controls, really) a time in the not-too-distant future when this team will be demanding that it be reckoned with as a legitimate Cup contender.