, the man coming to Toronto in exchange for Tomas Kaberle has one credo: no one outworks him.
“I pride myself on being the last guy off the ice and working on the things I need to improve,” said Colborne, Toronto property as of Friday. “I won’t let anyone outwork me. When I look back on my career,” he said, “I want to look back and see that I gave it all I had.”
Barely 21, Colborne traded the Providence Bruins’ uniform for the Marlies’ kit.
Providence broadcaster Adam Kaufman said Colborne stayed true to his vow.
“Joe is the kind of young man who was always pestering the coaches,” he said. “He wanted to watch more video. He wanted to see what he was doing right and what he was doing wrong.”
If Kaberle’s departure was rough for the Leafs’ countless followers, it was also difficult for Colborne.
“I had heard all the rumours. I knew the Bruins were interested in Kaberle for a few years and when there are rumours my name was always discussed.”
At six-foot-five, Colborne’s weight hovers between 210 and 215 pounds. The Calgary native spent two years at the University of Denver where he played with Tyler Bozak
for a year and scored 32 times in 79 games.
In his first full professional season, Colborne has scored 12 times and banked 26 points. To put Colborne’s numbers in perspective, Fabian Brunnstrom is the only Marlie with more than a dozen goals.
“There were a lot of comparisons to another Joe (San Jose star) Thornton,” Kaufman said. “That was never realistic. Joe is pass first-player and a great star. Joe Colborne
is a shoot-first centreman who is growing into his game.”
The Leafs are banking that the offence Colborne has flashed will blossom with a little more experience. Clearly he has been acquired with the expectation that someday he will be a top-six player.
The Leafs have become so youthful that injured goalie J.S. Giguere is the only player on the big club over 30-years-old. Being part of a youthful cast, Colborne said, makes the trade even more attractive.
“I have all sorts of excitement about going to Toronto. It’s really exciting. There are a lot of young talented players.”
Burke said Colborne was unlikely to be a bruiser.
“He is not unduly physical but he’s a good kid who works hard. He’s got great size and he brings a lot of assets.”
The Leafs GM stressed that while the Bruins were the team that consummated the Kaberle trade, he was never working with just one club. The team had gingerly explored other options; Kaberle’s 12 years of service warranted every effort to land him his first choice.
“We got him where he wanted to be,” Burke said. “I think it’s a happy ending.”
Burke is hoping for another happy ending. The Bruins also parted with this year’s first-round draft choice and a conditional second rounder to gain Kaberle.
The first-rounder originally owned by the Maple Leafs went to Boston in the Phil Kessel
deal, but the Leafs own Boston and Philadelphia’s first-round draft choices.
The Leafs’ GM is angling for a defenceman.
“We are immediately going to take those picks and see if we can parlay them into a player,” he said.
With the Leafs six points out of the playoffs, the Kaberle deal isn’t a white towel for the post season, Burke said. The Leafs are playing well and those players contributing should feel comfortable at the deadline, Burke said.
“Right now most of the guys pulling the wagon are safe.”
Burke said there seemed little hope of addressing the team’s most pressing need, a number once centre for gunner Phil Kessel
“I don’t think there is a real expectation of that,” he said. “That’s for July 1.”
That opening day of free agency looms even if it is more than five months away. Dallas Star Brad Richards is the only unrestricted free agent who could address the shortfall in the middle.
How well that first day of July goes for Burke and the Leafs will determine what kind of team players such as Colborne, Jake Gardiner
, Nazem Kadri
and Marcel Mueller
find when they finally step into the NHL.