Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Importance Of McCabe To The Leafs

Bryan McCabe is having a very good season. Currently, he is the second highest scoring defenceman in the NHL with 49 points in 43 games (he trails Lubomir Visnovsky). He has the highest points per game among NHL defencemen. Before his recent injury (he missed nine games with a groin injury), I was picking him as the Norris trophy leader. Due to his injury, I am now picking Wade Redden.

However, there are a lot of people who doubt that McCabe deserves this kind of credit. They doubt his defensive prowess. This line of logic is likely part of the reason that McCabe was left off of the Canadian Olympic Team.

McCabe has been arguably the best offensive defenceman in the NHL this year. He is also solid defensively. He does not get sufficient credit in part because of his playing style. He sometimes cheats up the ice a bit to try to join a breakout attack and when he guesses wrong and the attack does not happen, his mistake is obvious to even the casual hockey viewer. Despite this, he a very solid positional defensive player the majority of the time.

One good proof of McCabe's value to the Toronto Maple Leafs is the way the Leafs have played when he is out of the lineup. The Leafs went 1-8 (with one of their losses an overtime loss) when McCabe was out of the lineup. He came back from injury last night for the Tampa Bay game which was a 3-2 shootout loss and McCabe didn't make much of an impact. It may take a couple games for Bryan McCabe to get in his full stride after missing nine games, but when he does I expect he will be an important part of the Leafs turn around. Toronto is currently holding the last playoff spot in the east conference and I expect will be a playoff team with McCabe playing a big role.

I think that Bryan McCabe is one of the better defenders in hockey today. I think he would be very valuable to the Canadian Olympic team. I think he is the best available power play point man for the Canadian team (and if they call penalties the way they have in the NHL that will be very important). I think he will not be a defensive liability, despite the common opinion to the contrary. I think that most hockey viewers (and the media) tend to be slow to recognize when newer players become stars. I think McCabe is at that star level and though the recognition may come in the future, he deserves it now.

Bryan McCabe has been one of the best defencemen in hockey this year (and 2003/04 where he made second team all star) but his recognition has been slow to arrive. He is one of the top contenders for the Norris trophy and very deserving of a spot on the Canadian Olympic team, but many people have yet to realize that. He is very valuable to his team. In fact Toronto has had significant struggle when McCabe is not in the lineup.

Hey, could you send me a quick email? golbez(At)

I need some help with a study I'm doing and perhaps you can help. Thx.

- Jes
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