Much has been said this summer of Truculence. Leaf fans are excited at, for the first time in what seems like ages, baring witness to a team that will throw its weight around. Not since the Quinn era have we been exposed to a crash and bang Leafs squad that will punish the teams they face instead of trying to dance around 'em.
Many opposing fans have been calling thuggery and goonism on this new gaggle of Toronto Maple Leaf hockey players, phrases like "Gorillas on skates" and "team of lumbering dinosaurs" have been audible from the peanut gallery.
But is this the case? Has Brian to the Burke just pieced together a team of soccer hooligans?
Lets break it down, player by player.
Colton Orr - Yes, no denying it. Colton Orr is a goon. He gets paid to punch people in the face, and he does it well. What Colton Orr does posses, however, is an underated hockey ability and while he may not be tearing up the scoresheet or making game breaking plays he wont cripple the team when his gloves are on.
Truculent? Check. Goon? Check.
Mike Komisarek - A big, mean, physical dude of a hockey player. But a goon? Nay I say, nay. Komi is a defensive workhorse who is tough in his own end. He blocks and hits with the best of them and isnt affraid to drop the mitts should the need arise. He has proven that he isnt the most adept heavy weight as was exposed by one Milan Lucic, but he doesnt shy away from the rough stuff or lack the ability to start it when need be.
Truculent? Check. Goon? Nay
Francois Beauchemin - Brought in to replace the departed Pavel "hobobeard" Kubina. Like Kubina, he has a heavy shot, good offensive awarness and while his point totals are lower, Kubina wasnt stuck behind Neidermyer and Pronger on the PP. Unlike Kubina he uses his size well. Can clear the front of the net and will get dirty in the corners. He also posseses great character and leadership capabilities which Burke Covets. While he doesnt toss knuckles on a regular basis, he has been known to have pugelistic skill (just ask Jarome Iginla). A proven playoff performer with a solid skillset, possibly the best signing by Burke to date.
Truculent? Check. Goon? Hellz naw.
Garnett Exelby - A human seeking rocket of a player. Always on patrol for the highlight real bone cruncher, any player, any time, any zone he will take your head off. He also drops the gloves with semi-regularity and isnt all that bad at it. He doesnt fit the enforcer roll, but is often called to fight after one of his patented railroadings, but he isnt affraid to defend his team mates or get the crowd going. While not a traditional goon, he is close enough to fit the mold comfortably enough.
Truculent? Check? Goon? Close enough.
Jonas Gustavsson - Swedish elite league phenom, best goaltender outside the NHL last year, covoted by every team in the NHL without Luongo or Brodeur in their stables. Not one to throw the body or drop the gloves, but his name isnt Hextall or Emery so its not expected.
Truculent? Doesn't look like it. Goon? er....no.
Tyler Bozak - Hard nosed, speedy, excellent hockey sense. I will admit to not knowing to much about him. In all the highlights I've found on yonder interwebs, or in the Leafs Rookie tournament, while not overly physical he will go into traffic to make a play. I can't find one instance of a fight or big hit, but he certianly isnt affraid of body contact.
Truculent? Not overly. Goon? far from it.
Christian Hanson - Big fella, theres no doubt, but unlike his foil wearing father isnt much of a dancer. Much like Bozak, but with a lower skill set, he drives the net hard and uses his frame to make room for himself and line mates. He'll throw hits, but you'll rarly see them on sports center.
Truculent? It is in his blood, so it might be burried. Goon? Noper
Wayne Premieu - Career grinder nearing the end of his NHL days. A 4th line plugger who will toil in the corners and take his lumps.
Truculent? He tries to be. Goon? uh uh.
While none of these aquisitions are kitten soft (except maybe the Monster, but really does he have to be mike tyson?) Most posess a good amount of gritt and/ or sand paper. Orr and Exelby where brought in stricktly to terrorize opponents, but both will see limited ice time and be used in set peice situations.
The biggest movement by Burke seems to be the skill /truculent combo. Players that are effective not only at putting people on their ass but by either scoring or stopping pucks from going into the net.
Not that other fans are going to stop.
Truculence be with you