With only 37 “Big Club” games under his belt, Tyler Bozak looks poised and determined to lock up a highly profiled job within the NHL, in the number one center position with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Since the departure of Mats Sundin the Maple Leafs have been unable to land a big fish to fill the gap within its top line, resulting in numerous band-aid solutions led mostly by Matt Stajan and Nik Antropov. Although both players nearly reached career numbers within that role, it was widely viewed as a circumstance of default.
While fans and media alike cried for a legitimate number one, potentially the result of a Tomas kaberle trade or a significant free agent signing, Brian Burke kept his word in assuring that Leafs’ Management were seeking a scoring winger with size. While there were deals on the table for Burke to consider, none of which fit his bill as value for the Toronto Maple Leafs going forward and another Tomas Kaberle “tradeless” summer is behind us.
As training camp and pre-season quickly approach the feeling from within the Air Canada Centre is that of confidence regarding the group of pivots for the Maple Leafs, mostly Tyler Bozak. Scoring 8 goals 19 assists for 27 points in 37 games may not be screaming number one center but does reveal a glimpse of the potential Bozak has. As a widely coveted college free agent, Bozak joined the Maple Leafs and Brian Burke spoke highly of the hockey IQ that Bozak possessed. A quality that was on display as Bozak quickly developed a chemistry with his winger Phil Kessel, and revealed his play making abilities the Leafs desperately needed.
With his first season full of obstacles, Bozak learned quickly that hard work and effort is just the beginning in order to achieve success. He started the season in the AHL before battling a tough flu, thought to be H1N1. Keeping his head up and determined Bozak received his opportunity through the half way mark and never looked back. During the off-season it became apparent that results are needed and comfort should not set in. This a realization after a trade sent his room-mate and friend Viktor Stalberg packing for Chicago. Considered as part of the game Bozak has used all of these experiences as motivation to get stronger, healthier, and more prepared. Bringing himself to camp more conditioned and continuing his pace left from last season has Tyler Bozak poised and penciled in as the Leafs number one center. Unless the often occurring “sophomore jinx” has the effect, he will be given every opportunity to fill the void left by the highest scoring Maple Leaf in franchise history.
About the Author
Written by RJ Emptage
Operations Manager of a retail chain in Southern Ontario (Sports Obsession). Specialize in licensed sports apparel and novelties (Visit sportsobsession.ca). Being from the Hamilton area I grew up and into a die-hard Toronto Maple Leaf Fan, and look forward to a bright blue and white future...(I know that sounds crazy doesn't it?) Love all things sports and the next best thing to playing them, is talking them!