On January 19th, 2015, Italian soccer club Juventus agreed to a move that would see one of their homegrown talents leave for a bigger role somewhere else. Sebastian Giovinco moved to Toronto that spring and instantly began dominating Major League Soccer.
Some could say that it hurt Juventus, seeing a player that has been with them since he was nine, move on and achieve some great things overseas – but I’m sure winning their league the year after he left dulled some of that pain.
Giovinco was never given a fully-developed role within Juventus during his peak. At his original club, he had a total of 132 appearances for them – but that raw number has some heavy asterisks next to it. He was subbed on (which counts as an appearance) a total of 65 times during that stretch, meaning that he was just on their bench as an option and not given a starting role.
Even if he was given a role in the starting eleven, Giovinco was likely subbed off before the end of the game. 37 times he was chosen to give way to a player with fresher legs and labeled by the staff as a player that is more needed than Giovinco for the rest of the game.
That leaves us with a total of 30 complete games that he played for his home club – a club that he spent five of his seasons at. He was given more chances to impress at a lower level, being loaned out to lower clubs like Parma and Empoli, but he was never really deserving of a consistent spot on the Juventus team.
So the club had to move on from Giovinco and sent him to a lesser league to become a star overseas. It definitely worked and Juventus do not feel anything but emotional hurt for losing this player – on the pitch it has not changed them at all.
Much like how losing Josh Leivo to a trade with the Vancouver Canucks a couple days ago will not hurt the Leafs at all. Leivo is a player that this team drafted and developed, but will not have that great of an effect on the playing surface.
The Leafs are trying to win, like how Juventus was trying to win Serie A and the Champions League that season they got rid of Giovinco, while the Canucks are just trying to stay afloat and not be a complete embarrassment in the NHL. TFC can be seen as the Canucks here, having been ridiculed before Giovinco’s arrival and are just trying to win in their own league – the bottom-half of the NHL.
These are two hockey clubs that are on completely different paths, so why should the one with higher expectations really care about a player that is not always in their lineup? Leivo would never really get his chance here and it was promised to him that they would trade him to a team where he would be able to break their top-6 and demonstrate what he can do. He was never going to be that in Toronto, much like how Giovinco was never going to be the star he is, with Juventus.
There can be arguments that Leivo could become that if given an opportunity, but with the way the team is performing right now, there would not be that opportunity. Realistically, he would not surpass Patrick Marleau or Zach Hyman on that left side. He might statistically look better than them, but given what we know about Babcock and what he likes, he would have been destined to get around twelve minutes a night for his whole Leafs career.
The Canucks are getting a player that can play in their top-6 forward group because there really isn’t anyone else there. They are so barren upfront, besides the obvious names, that they are able to give Leivo an opportunity that he can work with.
A second chance in the NHL might just be what Leivo needs. Since he was destined to be claimed off of waivers if he was placed on them, this trade works for both sides ideally. The Leafs get a younger player that can play with the Marlies for the foreseeable future and the Canucks get an actual NHL player.
Taking into account that the Leafs would have definitely lost Leivo no matter what, it was a solid trade that should not be regretted. Asset management, personal relationships between players and management, and two different team situations are all demonstrated within this trade.
Sure, it somewhat hurt when you saw Leivo’s name next to Pettersson and Boeser. And then it hurt a little more when Leivo was able to score in his first game with his new team, but these are all necessities when developing a championship-winning team.
Juventus have much higher goals than Toronto FC and they always will – Champions of Italy, Champions of Europe. Meanwhile, the Leafs will always be a step above the Canucks, it’s just fact. TFC will always be a small club like the Canucks, while the Leafs are off winning cups and developing their better talent.
They are in a whole different league.