Leafs' Colborne looking to 'dominate' Bruins

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Leafs' Colborne looking to 'dominate' Bruins

TORONTO There should be plenty of motivation up and down the Maple Leafs roster for tonights TorontoBoston clash at the Air Canada Centre, but one player in particular will be skating like its the game of his life.

Joe Colborne was part of Bostons galaxy of young Bruins stars after he was selected with a first round pick in the 2008 draft, and there was a lot to like with the oversized center. A 6-foot-5 pivot with size, leadership qualities and smarts that also had plenty of playmaking skill and offensive upside, Colborne was a scouts dream in terms of potential.

Clearly Boston wasnt the only team that noticed him, however.

He was midway through his first full pro season in Providence when he found himself packing his bags for Toronto as part of the Tomas Kaberle trade in late February. Fast forward to tonight when the 21-year-old Colborne will suit up for the first time against his former organization since the trade that on some level helped net the Bruins a Stanley Cup.

Colborne never played in a single NHL game for the Black and Gold, but that didnt stop him from running a gamut of emotions while watching the Bs win the Stanley Cup last spring.

The Bruins are obviously stacked at the center position when it comes to organizational depth, and Colborne knew it was going to be difficult to crack Bostons NHL lineup in the short term. But he wasnt about to hide the crestfallen emotions he felt when the trade came down, either.

I was pretty disappointed when the trade happened. Im not gonna lie. I loved Boston and loved everything about Boston. You could see they were on a path for a lot of success, so it was tough, admitted Colborne. But since Ive been in Toronto theyve welcome me in and its been unbelievable. Im pretty happy with where I am right now.

His current state of puck happiness didnt keep his mind from wandering back to his time with the Black and Gold while watching them battle it out with the Canucks during the Stanley Cup Finals.

It was hard watching personally because you know you might have had a chance to be up there with the Bruins and be a part of it, said Colborne. At the same time I was happy for them. I went through the whole Philadelphia series the season before. I realize how much hard work went into that right from management on down because they had a big gut check there. The way they bounced back was really neat."

I have Boston to thank for a lot of my development over the last few years. That said Im really hoping we dominate them like theyve done to us over the last few games. Obviously you want to show your best, and make them regret the decision they made to trade Colborne.

Colborne has four points (a goal and three assists) in five games with the Leafs while centering the third line for Toronto with Joey Crabb and Matt Frattin. He seems to be delivering on the promise everybody saw in Boston. It started at the AHL level where Jumbo Joe tore it up for the Toronto Marlies for two months with 10 goals in 13 games before finally getting promoted the big club. Now he finds himself smack dab in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff pack, and facing a Bs club the Maple Leafs are looking to knock down the standings.

Jordan Caron has known Colborne since the two were 14-year-old midget players in Saskatchewan on a fast track to potential NCAA careers, and is proud of the way hes fought his way to a spot in Toronto. Theyve both come a long way from inexperienced 19-year-olds in the AHL for long stretches of last season.

Its great for him. Hes such a good guy and hes so talented that you knew he was going to make it one way or the other, said Caron. He had a great start in the AHL, hes been called up and hes doing well. Good for him.

Hes such a skilled player, and hes really powerful with that long reach. Hes got a good shot too. Hes going to get even stronger than he is now, and that will make him even better.

Nobody is expecting a Tyler Seguin-type hat trick explosion for Colborne when he suits up against the Bruins tonight, but its also a game the talented center has been waiting nine months for.

Bruins coaches: Czarnik a ‘Belichick-type hockey player’

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Bruins coaches: Czarnik a ‘Belichick-type hockey player’

BOSTON – Austin Czarnik is off to a good start at Bruins training camp.

He’s got points in each of the first two exhibition games and just the fact that he’s cracked the B’s lineup in both games tells you that the coaching staff wants to get a long, good look at the undersized forward.

But the 5-foot-9, 167-pound Czarnik brings more than simply a touch of the Napoleon complex after always being told that he was too small to make it to the elite levels of hockey. The 23-year-old clearly can score after posting 20 goals and 61 points in his first pro season in the AHL in Providence last season. He plays with heart, energy and a dogged determination when he’s hunting pucks on the fore-check.

But former P-Bruins head coach and current B’s assistant coach Bruce Cassidy says that Czarnik also brings something a little extra that New England Patriots fans will certainly appreciate.

“As far as being a player goes, he would be, to me, that [Bill] Belichick-type player that you could use in a lot of different situations,” said Cassidy, in clear reference to intelligent utility guys Troy Brown, Danny Woodhead, Julian Edelman and others that all filled different roles in their time with New England.

“He’s got a very, very high IQ, he’s a quick learner and very coachable,” Cassidy said. “So, he’s a guy you can move around, and he can play with different players. He can play on the penalty kill, he’s good on the power play and especially on the point.

“So there are a lot of different things. I think from night-to-night if you wanted to, you could move him around in your lineup and he could be effective for you. I know he’s a center, but it would be interesting to see if he could play the wing and be effective. That’s something we haven’t really seen. Is that something we maybe attempt down the road? I don’t know. I don’t want to speak out of turn, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he could handle it. He even played for us 6-on-5 as a defenseman with the goalie out. He’s just a smart player, and he understands the game very, very well.”

So, Czarnik is off to a good start in training camp with the Bruins, but we also saw the same thing from him last year as a rookie to pro hockey. 

Now, it’s about seeing whether a smaller player can finish strong as the competition heightens deeper into the preseason, and perhaps he can bring that versatility and feistiness to the NHL level in Boston. 

 

 

Thursday, Sept. 29: Oilers right where they belong

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Thursday, Sept. 29: Oilers right where they belong

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while looking forward to watching the Luke Cage Netflix series.

*The Cult of Hockey has no issues with yours truly ranking the Edmonton Oilers 29th out of 30 teams in my first preseason NHL power rankings.

*An interesting piece about Brian McGrattan and his battle with alcohol in his career as an NHL tough guy. I can honestly say having covered him a bit when he was in the Bruins organization that he was one of the scariest dudes I’ve ever talked to in an NHL dressing room. A nice guy, but very intense and always looked like he definitely enjoyed his work on the ice.

*Dennis Seidenberg hopped on with the Hockey Central crew today to talk about his new contract with the New York Islanders.

*PHT writer and Friend of Haggs (FOH) Mike Halford has Guy Boucher with some serious Dion Phaneuf love going on in Ottawa.

*Jack Eichel is oozing confidence and swagger in his second NHL season with Buffalo looking to make a big step up this season.

*Scott Burnside said that the World Cup of Hockey could be coming to an end tonight and I think most predict that it will with a little bit of an anticlimactic thud due to the sheer awesomeness of Team Canada.

*For something completely different: “Aleppo Moment” sounds like a great name for a rock band. Not so much for a Presidential candidate.