What Would You Do Wednesday – Sorting Out the Defence

Wow, can you believe that Jake Gardiner has been healthy scratched two games in a row? I mean, that’s nuts. There’s gotta be a better way to arrange that blue line without sitting the guy you just signed to a lengthy, expensive contract.

If only we had some smart hockey minds to tell us how to fix our mess. If only there was some group of handsome and sophisticated people out there who can get this defence sorted out. The writers here at TLN certainly don’t fit that bill, so let’s turn it over to our readers.

The Situation


So hey, you’re the new coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and your first order of business is to sort out the numbers game on the backend. Who are your six guys? Who’s paired with who? Who’s sitting up there in the fancy press box? Or maybe you’re rolling seven defenders? Whoa, that’s crazy.

Throw up your answer in the comments section below, and have fun thumbing up or thumbing down everyone else’s response.

Congratulations to Coach Frank

Looks like Coach Frank was pretty popular last week, after suggesting that the Leafs should trade Lupul and Bozak. Good job, Coach!


Boo You, Juan

On the other hand, Juan’s idea to ship Reimer, Nylander and a pick to Winnipeg was shot down pretty damn hard. Don’t think Leafs fans are ready to move on from a guy they drafted a few months ago, even for Evander Kane.


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  • TGT23

    Phaneuf- franson
    Reilly- gardiner
    Percy- polak
    Give robidas some practices under his belt, he hasn’t looked ready after missing training camp.
    Plan the parade

  • TGT23

    Gardiner – Phaneuf

    Reilly – Robidas

    Percy – Polak

    Sorry Cody, I like you but your contract is up in a year and I haven’t got a clue how an offensive d-man can be as slow as you are and still put up your numbers…

    you do however look good enough to get a decent return in a trade
    (Enjoy buffalo Josh Gorges).

    I wonder what other fun things the leafs could get for you…

    I hear Edmonton, and the NYI love defencemen of your caliber!

    Sorry, its nothing personal….
    really, don’t be mad at me. Its Stewie P’s fault.

  • Garthojon

    Gardiner – Phaneuf
    Rielly – Franson
    Percy – Robidas

    Polak in the press box temporarily.

    Shelter Robidas until he can get his game (whatever that may be) back. Rotate defensemen like the Marlies did with their forwards last year.

    Give me 35 year contract extension, key to the city.

  • SteinS

    Bench Robidas for a bit until he improves (set a precedent that minutes are based on pay and not payroll).

    Play Franson on favourable assignments until his trade value soars, then trade him for a bonafide top 6 forward (since we’ve been filling that 2nd line spot with bottom 6 material), or package him for a defense upgrade.

    DON’T get rid of Gardiner+Kadri+1st for Eric Staal.




    (didn’t pay attention to sides)

  • jasken

    Since their really not giving the 4th line much time to play sit holland and panik, add the 7th defenceman and have the centers take turns with frattin and Kozun and alternate polak and robidas with either reilly, gardiner or percy when fourth line is on for defence. It’s not that you want to really sit them but you have to choose someone and Frattin needs play time as well.

    I guess since sitting a captain or alternate captain are bad ideas that leaves polak or franson on defence that can be sat. I dont see percy getting a time in press box at the moment.

    • jasken

      I like the idea of 7 d, we saw it worked last year at times. but don’t sit holland. I would rather see a winger sit and give Kessel/JVR/Lupul an extra shift with Holland and Kozun/Frattin/Panik to really overpower other teams 4th lines.

  • BubbaLou

    If this is Be a GM Mode, I don’t feel I’m getting enough from Robidas, based on both his numbers and the eye test.

    Numbers-wise he’s in the bottom 3 on the Leafs. He has 1 assist so far, and his CF% in the last 3 games has been 20%(everyone got hit by the Penguins), 40%(bottom 2 D man in a game we crushed), and 47% vs the Avs (last-place D man). I get it, though – he’s not the guy who puts points on the board, he’s the responsible one – but he’s lagging his line’s offense pretty bad.

    Eye-wise I feel similarly – he is kind of sluggish on the ice, especially with the faster Leafs units. He’s taken a few hooking penalties, basically 2 minutes-you were slow. Our PP was 0-5 last night, and I felt it could have really used someone to carry the puck up the ice, dish a pass, and lock in the power play. Gardiner is very good at this, and usually pairs with Reilly.

    Considering we signed Robidas after he broke the same leg twice last year…
    at 37 years old,
    for 3 years
    with 0 rehab games (these are his first games coming back) in between,
    even if you think he could be worth it the season is long. Why not rest that leg a bit?

    Besides would you rather train the low-20’s year old player or the high-30’s year old player?

    Edit: to add to the above comments, our 4th unit was Panik – 4:44 Holland – 4:31 Kozun – 5:50 in the last game. For reference, the Avs lowest 4th line player played over 10 minutes that night. I agree with the above posters – if Carlyle is going to teach them hockey from the bench, any one of them can just as easily take the press box.

  • CMpuck

    Bench Panik, and play 7 D.
    Ask the collective group of D-men to raise their hand if they can not take a shift at forward. Whoever raises their hand first gets benched next.

    Coach BoxMaker

  • CMpuck

    I’m with the sit Robidas for now
    alternate with Frattin

    so dress the extra defenseman the second day of
    2 day 2 games or when the team seems tired and is more likely to spend more time in the defensive end.

    problem solved

  • FlareKnight

    Honestly, why not roll 7 dmen right now? Carlyle is right back to barely using his fourth line anyways. If you aren’t going to have a fourth line might as well use the extra dman that can actually get some ice time out there.

  • Kanuunankuula


    Cycle all the RD’s and trade the one with the most value at trade deadline to a contender that needs one (probably Franson)

  • Kanuunankuula

    Roll with the exact same pairings we have now, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. That being said, Gardiner is too great an offensive presence to leave in the press box, so throw him on the second line with lupul and kadri, winnick down to the fourth, and sit panik for now.

  • Bertly83

    None of Rielly/Gardiner/Percy are good on the right side, so there are really two options, Phaneuf on the left, or back to the right. And I think coaching staff and Phaneuf are in best position to determine. So it’s either:

    Phaneuf – Franson
    Percy/Gardiner – Polak
    Rielly/Gardiner – Robidas

    (With Rielly/Gardiner/Percy rotating)


    Percy – Phaneuf
    Gardiner – Polak/Robidas
    Rielly – Franson/Robidas

    (With Polak/Franson/Robidas rotating)

    With this setup, I put Percy with Phaneuf because Rielly/Gardiner rush up ice too much to pair with Phaneuf IMO.

    Personally, I prefer option #1. Don’t want to mess with Percy-Polak pairing. They’re very solid and should be Leafs best defensive pair. Phaneuf on the other hand, should not play with Gardiner or Rielly. And I don’t like Rielly and Gardiner together at all. Makes it complicated to find pairings. 🙂

    HOWEVER: my personal preference would actually be to trade Phaneuf (extend Franson) and:


  • Benjamin

    Rielly – Gardiner
    Percy – Gardiner
    Rielly – Percy

    Cause really, is there any other defenceman on the team that is even close to being as good as these guys.

  • silentbob

    I don’t think this is a situation that has to be fixed, at least not right now.

    Having 7 NHL capable D-men is a good thing and not something that has to be “fixed”. Guys are going to play bad and guys are going to get hurt and go into slumps as the season goes on.

    Once the Leafs lose a game or two someone else will take a seat and Gardiner will come back in. And when Phaneuf or Rielly or Polak or whoever gets hurt and is out for a month, we won’t have to dip into the AHL for a replacement.

  • BubbaLou

    I like dressing the 7th D idea. And only use that 4th line with the 7th D with Gardiner and Reilly. Then tell gardiner or reilly to go for it offensively and 7th d will cover for them.

    Since I’m still convince that we need more muscle…not a goon. Why not find a big capable 7th D type defenceman that can cover defensively for the 2 young Ds or can drop the gloves if necessary. Or better yet why not dress 8 defencemen. Put the 2 big 7th and 8th D with reilly and gardiner on the ice all the time and let either the 2 skilled d loose (end to end rushes) when needed offensively and have the other 2 big Ds cover for them or let the 2 big D loose when muscle is needed.

    that would also be a hard line to score against since 4 can skate backwards adeptly….TRAP!!!

    This actually solves the gardiner/reilly combo being too weak on the ice and also add physicality without having a goon line.

    Just thinking out of the box…that’s all.

  • nazemkadri43

    Right now, I would go by performance. If a defenseman has a bad game, he sits the next game. It can be kind of like the goalies. After every question, management should ask, “Would the guy who sat have played better than one that played?” and go from there.