Never mind the Muskoka Five, this current Toronto Maple Leafs bout with disappointing results features the Mimico Two – David Clarkson and Dave Bolland – both acquired in the 2013 offseason to prevent the Buds from things like 8-game losing streaks with the postseason on the horizon.
Bolland has missed most of the regular season with severed tendons in one of his feet and Clarkson has played most of the season with a severed ego. Last night, in the Leafs first win since March 13, the Mimico boys each scored in the third-period to ensure victory for Toronto. The Leafs beat the Flames 3-2. For Clarkson, it was his first goal since before the Olympic break.
When Maple Leafs general manager Dave Nonis signed right-winger David Clarkson this past summer, it looked like the Leafs had added toughness on the wing, something the club needed more of against the Boston Bruins in the first-round of the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs. But, there is danger in adding one element as a ploy to counter against a specific foe, especially if said player’s track record is debatably good, and your best asset against said foe was your previous ability to counter with speed. Clarkson and speed are as synonymous as Leafs and Cups.
Before joining the Leafs, Mimico native David Clarkson was a one-time 30-goal scorer with the New Jersey Devils – an organization that is notorious for maximizing the potential of its non-star players. And nobody could’ve possibly thought Clarkson was a star prior to this season, despite his relatively good numbers with New Jersey.
The Leafs signed Clarkson to $5.25 mil per season for the remainder of time. After one year of his contract nearly complete, the Clarkson signing looks like a nightmare in its early stages – a guaranteed buyout at some point.
The Mimico Two – Clarkson and Bolland – are built for the playoffs, if you consider the traditional mould. Neither is known to shy away from physical play and heated on-ice debate. And even if Clarkson – who has been a small fraction of the player he was expected to be this season – is some playoff beast waiting to be set free on a first-round opponent, the Leafs probably won’t make the playoffs this year, barring what at this point could only be dubbed as a minor miracle.
Bolland has been terrific when he’s played this season, but he got injured early in the year and the Leafs lack of organizational depth at centre hindered the club’s ability to replace his presence and knack for timely scoring.
There’s a lot to like about Bolland, but Leafs management must be careful before it agrees to throw a large sum of money at what is essentially a third, arguably fourth-line centre, on a Stanley Cup caliber team.
Not since 2008-09 has Bolland played more than 80-games in a single regular season, and given the Leafs inability to qualify for the postseason during an 82-game schedule since 2003-04, maybe a long-term deal for the clutch depth player isn’t such a great idea. Maybe Bolland is more suited to help a playoff bound club in need of veteran leadership in a minimized role, not unlike his 2010 Blackhawks found in former Cup winner John Madden. And for the Leafs, given their current state, maybe Bolland isn’t the answer if a big pay day is what he seeks.
The Mimico Two came through for the Leafs last night, scoring once each in the third-period to ensure victory and help snap an epic 8-game losing streak – the Leafs worst since 1985, which is remarkable, because they’re the Leafs! And this is the era of the three-point game!
The Leafs are stuck with Clarkson’s unmovable contract for six more seasons after this, and with his current cap-hit being so high, Nonis needs to be careful about who else he gives money and term to over the next, say, five to seven years. Because of this, I believe Bolland is out with the Leafs, or at least should be. Cup winners get by with Bolland types then trade them away before their big pay day. They do this for a reason, and it works.
For the Leafs, most of what they’ve tried over the last 47-years has not worked. I’m talking about big contracts for older players who’ve won their Cups elsewhere and can’t stay healthy by the time they join the Blue and White.
To be fair and clear: The Mimico Two are not to blame for the Leafs late-season collapse; they are only small pieces of a puzzle that’s missing several pieces.
Time to take a good look at what the successful teams are doing, and follow suit; no more re-inventing the wheel for the Leafs. I know, I know: the Leafs organization should’ve considered a proper rebuild years ago and didn’t, but it’s never too late to fix things.
Unfortunately, this means the Mimico Two experiment has failed, and the only way Nonis can fix it is to let Bolland walk, and hope Clarkson is better next season, because Bolland has been the more useful of the Two, but one’s contract makes it impossible to retain the other at any significant amount of money.