I’ve written about it before and hoped to have gotten it all off of my chest. But it features so prominently as a symptom of the psychosis linked to Leaf fans.
What is it? The Short Term Memory.
For Saturday’s game against the reigning Stanley Cup champions at the ACC, Ron Wilson and company opted to sit Luke Schenn out as a healthy scratch for the first time this season in favour of Cody Franson.
I can completely understand this decision. I will be the first to admit that Schenn’s play has left a whole lot to be desired to start this season. For some reason, Schenn doesn’t handle the puck as if it’s a puck. He’s been handling it as if it’s a stick of TNT. He seems more content to play a game of hot-potato than hockey.
However, all this talk of Schenn not being the franchise player we all thought he would be and all of the speculation as to what Burke could fetch in a trade for him is complete nonsense.
It’s that damn Short Term Memory coming into play again.
Last week, Cody Franson was its victim. Cody has barely played to start the year and when he’s been in, he hasn’t really had any positive impact on the ice. Suddenly, the man who everyone was fawning over in the off-season as a future stud d-man was being tossed around in speculative trade scenarios by everyone and their grandmother.
This week, Luke Schenn is its victim.
Over the summer, Schenn signed a rather hefty five year deal paying him $3.6 million each season. Is the pressure getting to him? It’s possible. But keep in mind, he’s been a $3 million cap hit since playing his way on to the team in his rookie campaign. I don’t personally believe that the extra $0.6 million per year is what’s ailing him.
I’m more inclined to think that Luke just isn’t used to other players out-playing him. Phaneuf, Gunnarson, Liles, and Gardiner have clearly been their best defensemen. The play of Komisarek, Schenn, and Franson has been nowhere near that of their fellow defenders.
However, we have seen a little bit of this before. His start to the year reminds me of exactly what he went through in his sophomore campaign. It must be difficult on such a young defenseman to go from playing 22 minutes per night last year to 14 minutes and plummeting this year. It’s all about confidence for Luke. He’s not used to playing on the third pairing, plain and simple.
Now don’t get me wrong, this is not to be used as an excuse for his poor play. But it’s definitely a contributing factor.
At the end of the day, if each person who is a part of either the rabid fan-base or blood-thirsty media horde would take 10 seconds to recall exactly how dominant a force Luke has shown he can be, no one would be having these discussions right now and I woudn’t have to have written this article.
But that’s never going to happen. Things are never going to change. It is not pessimism, it is the only conclusion one can land on given the infinite availability of empirical evidence shown day by day in Leaf land.
The conclusion itself?
That no Toronto Maple Leafs fan or media contributor’s memory has the capacity to recall any Leaf-related event beyond the span of the most recent 60 to 65 minutes plus shootout of hockey played.
It’s unfortunate, but all too often true.
The positive side of this is the fact that Luke has dealt with this situation before, as I stated earlier. A few growing pains now will yield fantastic results in the long term. Schenn’s body of work dictates this to be true. Those few of us that have the capacity to recall his body of work beyond the last game played take comfort and solace in this fact.
So, for the time being, Schenn-critics, my message to you is simple:
Shut it down.
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