I have been looking everywhere for the panic button the last few days with no luck. Under the stairs, behind the couch, inside my hockey bag and anywhere you can think of. It is apparently missing, or so I thought until I found out where it was last night as I scanned Leaf news before going to bed. There it was, right smack dab in the middle of the Toronto dressing room.
While I didn’t see it directly all the signs are clear effects of my button being pushed, intentional or not. First you Nazem Kadri demoted to the fourth line, a spot previously held by John Mitchell, Mike Zigomanis and anyone temporarily in Wilson’s dog house.
This in itself does not emphatically mean panic, but it sure gives off trace amounts of “panic odour.” That is a combination of dead, crunchy, decomposing leaves from a maple tree.
Instead this move makes me wonder why Kadri is still on the team, there is no benefit at all to this move. Now he will face more Colton Orr and Mike Brown type players for about 4 minutes per night, as well as play with them. This is not a place for a developing skill player; in fact it is the worst. Not only will he essentially be on his own to create plays, but when he does work some magic, he will have better luck passing to a marble bust of Dave Keon over the stone hands he will be working with. Keeping Kadri as a powerplay specialist is a waste of talent and detrimental to his development.
Beyond Kadri, the Leafs now have Tyler Bozak moved to the third line and slide hard working, defensive prodigy (why not?) Tim Brent to the wing. While this position is about as much as Bozak deserves at this point, it is worth mentioning that this guy was supposed to be the undisputed 1st line centre. Not only has he lost his job, but he has dropped down 2 lines and his former winger is now centering the line above him.
This is where the panic starts to really stink. Phil Kessel, never viewed as the best centreman in junior was moved to the wing by Boston and he flourished. At centre he just couldn’t compete at the next level. Right now, with no other options and Ron Wilson making it clear he does not feel either Bozak or Kadri can learn on the fly, Kessel is the clear sign the Panic Button has been hit.
I must apologize for losing track of my button and for carelessly leaving it in the Leafs dressing room. Unless of course these changes work, in which case I will gladly accept any praise you are willing to offer. Just in case, I will stay near the Leafs bench with a rake to clear away the players should they fall again tonight.