Gardiner Bound*

William Wilson January 15, 2013 6
Jake Gardiner celebrates a goal with teammatesPhoto by Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press

Update: Gardiner may be back, but James “the Glass Man” van Riemsdyk left practice early with an apparent foot injury. He’s like a younger version of Tim Connolly.

There’s finally some positive news coming out of Leafs Nation concerning the shortened NHL season that will otherwise likely prove difficult for fans to bear: Jake Gardiner skated on his own at today’s team practice.

It’s still not clear if Gardiner is healthy enough to appear on the Leafs’ opening day roster, but his appearance at the practice suggests that he has finally made some progress in recovering from a concussion suffered while playing for the Marlies last month (year?).

Alongside captain Dion Phaneuf, John-Michael Liles and Cody Franson, Gardiner underscores the team’s offensive edge in the defence department. All four defenceman could conceivably score 20 points this season, which represents a very strong and deep blueline. (Imagine if Mike Komisarek ends up having a career-year? Doubtful…)

In place of Gardiner, it was speculated that Mike MottauMorgan Rielly or Korbinian Holzer could fill his roster spot over the short-term.

Having said this, one of these three players (or perhaps another) will still need to sit as the Leafs’ seventh defence. The departure of Luke Schenn during the 0ff-season has created such an opening on the team’s roster. However, regardless of whoever is ultimately called upon to fill the role, he will probably be confined to playing NHL 13 from the comfort of the press box.

The return of Gardiner would be a great start to the season. Let’s hope the good news continues. (Might Mats Sundin come out of retirement?! Doubtful…)

*In case you missed it, the title references Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway. (I apologize for the lame title.)

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