So the Toronto Maple Leafs begin life tonight facing the prospect of somehow having to muddle along without defenseman Bryan McCabe.
And if local scribes are to be believed, the Leafs will somehow have to survive without the second coming of Doug Harvey.
Yes, McCabe is logging enormous amounts of ice time. Yes, McCabe has improved his game, but really, it had nowhere to go but up after a disastrous first quarter of the season. And in doing so, McCabe has basically dumbed his game down to the lowest level and essentially transformed himself from a dominant two-way threat to a plodding defensive defenseman whose offensive game has abandoned him.
The McCabe you’ve been watching lately is the one for whom the Maple Leafs will be taking a $5.75 million hit on the salary cap for the rest of this season and three more after that. The old McCabe is likely gone, never to return. He has grown skittish of making the high-risk plays that used to work for him -- because now they almost always end up in scoring chances against his own team -- and his booming slapshot from the point on the power play has been virtually nullified because opponents have been able to so effectively defend against it.
So really, all the Leafs need from Anton Stralman or Carlo Colaiacovo or whomever else they use in place of McCabe, is a defensive guy who makes the safe play and chips the puck off the glass to get it out of his own end.
After all, that’s pretty much all they’re getting from McCabe these days.
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