Check My Brain


    No truer words ring out to the ears of the throng of fans and particularly management of the Leafs victory over the current GM’s former organization.

    And it took Alice in Chains to create them.

    Cali, you’re alright …..

    I never thought Jerry Cantrell and the boys in Alice in Chains would ever be able to replace Layne Stayley. He was an original, a unique voice. Then in comes William DuVall, and hey, there’s a reunion and new material.

    They had brilliant foresight to write these lyrics in the song Check My Brain, pertaining to the Leafs through Cali …

    So I found myself in the sun, oh yeah
    A hell of a place to end a run, oh yeah

    California, I’m fine … Somebody check my brain
    California’s all right … Somebody check my brain
    Check my brain

    I never thought the Leafs would walk into the former home of the current GM, and walk away with a lopsided win. It does, however indicate how a team not two seasons removed from a Cup win can decline.

    Coincidentally, the Ducks are ‘retooling’ too .. making moves to remain competitive, while rebuilding on the fly. It started last season with Burke still at the helm and continued with the deal for Chris Pronger at the NHL draft over the summer.

    Anaheim has made seven picks in the first two rounds of the past two NHL entry drafts (three firsts and four seconds). None have played a National Hockey League game and will take seasoning and time to develop into regular NHLers .. if they ever do.

    In the meantime, they will shed some contracts over the summer and will either have to replace them with the talent within their system or sign free agents. With the likes of Saku Koivu, Teemu Selanne and Scott Niedermayer all unrestricted, and Bobby Ryan a restricted free agent likely to demand a major upgrade from his $765K base, the Ducks will look very different next season.

    Anaheim own their first round picks in 2010 and 2011.

    Toronto has made five selections in that same span (two first, three seconds), with Luke Schenn being the only player to suit up in an NHL game. They added Tyler Bozak and Christian Hanson from the college ranks and Jonas Gustavsson.

    I won’t be pretentious to say those are all first round picks, as Brian Burke does. He’s said that if these players were in the draft they would be considered first rounders .. perhaps he’s right. They’re already mature and developed players that weren’t looked at as prospects until recently. Giving them a first round value is a little overstated, but they still will enter the playing ranks soon contributing immediately. Toronto also will shed contracts at the end of the season, and with the lower contracts of these players, there is the possibility of adding some star power through free agency.

    Both clubs are using the wording of ‘retooling’, using different methods to accomplish their goals.

    Somebody, Check my Brain ….

    Andrew Ebbett

    How did this guy escape through Burke’s hands and into the Blackhawks organization? It goes to show the way a club already deep up the middle further solidifies depth by adding another asset. Chances are in the Blackhawks organization he gets sent to Rockford to bolster their AHL lineup, but that’s not a bad option.

    He fell through waivers to the Blackhawks, playing in three games skating around 11 minutes after a five minute debut, without any power play time.

    After his December call up, despite playing similar minutes – averaged 13:25 in 48 games (8-24-32) – with difficult situations, showing an ability to pressure puck carriers into hurrying their plays, and using quick and darty skating to move the puck up ice. Despite a lack of overall size, his work ethic is contagious. He may not fit into a top-six role right away, but it’s nice to have the option available.

    I thought that’s what good asset management was all about.

    Burke should have been familiar with the ability of the thin but industrious two-way pivot, if not for depth and a possibly contributing to the Leafs, another already familiar player for the Marlies.

    Somebody, Check my Brain ….

    Luke Schenn

    I found it strange to see Luke’s stats over the past two games, with his ice time slipping to just over 10 minutes, none while shorthanded. Granted, the Leafs were on the power play for a big part of the 6-3 win over Anaheim, but he only had three minutes after the first period. I thought he might be hurt not seeing him much. The dwindling ice time and responsibility is a little discomforting, but just a bump on the road to development.

    Yesterday on Hockeycentral it was suggested he play in the World Juniors this season.

    Not a bad idea, however, the only benefit I believe in playing there would be a build up of confidence, especially after playing in the NHL. It’s like playing a game of chess with a challenging partner that takes all cunning to beat, only to move to a novice opponent that doesn’t pose as much of a challenge. The confident air of victory is there, but the challenge isn’t enough to develop skills above those already in place.

    His skills are beyond junior and they need a real world, NHL solution. Confidence could be regained here, but it will take the type of coddling needed for proper development moving forward. With the additions to the blueline, the pressure is off for him and he could learn from watching on the bench and interacting with his peers.

    On the ice, Luke’s looked uncomfortable from training camp, and has struggled with some mobility issues. Whether that had to do with tendonitis in his knee over the summer, or adapting to a slight variation from last season’s style is still up for debate. Schenn’s not the greatest skater and he’s been consistently caught either losing foot races, getting caught flat-footed or not reading the play well enough to react.

    His success last season came as a direct result of utilizing a simple game, simple approach with more responsibility than this season. Luke needs to simplify and if that means spending some time riding pine, or even sitting next to Howard Berger in the press box for a game or two, so be it.

    Going back to junior competition is regressive.

    Somebody, Check my Brain.