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Looking At Some Obvious Truths

by Mike Ulmer / Toronto Maple Leafs
Alex Rodriguez admits to using steroids from 2001 to 2003.

No kidding.

This blog is not about steroids. It is about obvious truths.

For example, when they let Ryan Malone walk to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Pittsburgh Penguins undeniably altered their chemistry and they are suffering for it. Malone was a homegrown product. His 16 goals matter less than the tenure he enjoyed with the team, a history that predated Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. It’s Malone’s bad luck that he walked into a train wreck in Florida.

Eric Lindros retired three or four years too late. Lindros, always circumspect on the effect of his head injuries has admitted the obvious in recent weeks, he stayed, way, way too late at the party.

On that note, the same goes for Carolina Hurricanes’ great Rod Brind’Amour. The 38-year-old has scored eight goals, but his minus-30 would be an unbearable stigma for the player long considered one of the best-two way performers in the game.

Mike Van Ryn isn’t doing anything wrong. Van Ryn was rocketed into the end boards by Max Pacioretty Saturday in Montreal. Van Ryn is now out at least a week with what is being described as a lower-body injury. But the handy Van Ryn’s troubles began when he was hit from behind by the Habs Tom Kostopoulos. That initiated a string of concussions which may, or may not, be afflicting Van Ryn now.

Here is the thing. Short of nailing your skates to centre ice, there is nothing you can do if your check wants to ram your head into the boards. It’s not about turning in or away or sideways. It’s about the guy wearing different colours having no regard for your personal safety in the split second that he has to.

We are seeing shifting sands for Leaf players in the wake of Brian Burke calling out goalie Vesa Toskala over his practice habits. Not surprisingly, since the information no doubt came from coach Ron Wilson, the coach backed the GM’s assessment one hundred per cent.

I can’t remember Paul Maurice calling out a player. Nor John Ferguson nor Pat Quinn. You can view all this as increased accountability or you can view it as piling on, but I will tell you the obvious truth: it is here to stay. Wilson and Burke are two of the most opinionated figures in the game and neither guy is shy.

Still on the Leafs. If you want messages, how about the one delivered to Anton Stralman and Jamie Sifers. Sifers is a meat and potatoes defender. Stralman has spectacular skills but the team brought Sifers up. The message to Stralman: get better.

Obvious truth: Mats Sundin is still pretty good. Sundin now has four goals and has scored in two straight for the Vancouver Canucks.

I think everyone should emulate the Dallas Stars. The Stars were going nowhere when they cut disgusting loudmouth Sean Avery. They are 16-6-3 in their last 25 and yet someone will soon line up to give Avery yet another shot. That friends is ignoring the obvious truth.

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