Toronto Maple Leafs acquire Ryan O'Byrne
Let’s face it, the water cooler chat Thursday morning about the Toronto Maple Leafs trade all started the same sad, maybe worrying, and definitely strange way.
“The Leafs got who?...Is that a goalie?”
“No, they already signed that young kid as a third goalie – and Kipper said no to Toronto, and Luongo stayed put….
“He’s a defenceman. He stole a purse once – he’s the purse snatcher.”
Of course if said chatters are Montreal Canadiens fans, or have an amazing memory, then they already knew that newest Leafs defenceman Ryan O'Byrne read an apology in court and agreed to community service in 2008 to have theft charges dropped for stealing a woman’s purse.
A night out with some ladies gone wrong; she complained it was missing, bouncers found him outside with it, he said it was his girlfriend’s, and…charges were dropped.
At least now every Leafs fan knows who it is that GM Dave Nonis picked up at the very last second of Wednesday's Trade Deadline.
So let’s get to know him as a hockey player now and see some "highlights."
The Leafs grabbed no goalie, well “that young kid” Drew MacIntyre who won’t see any ice, so the next step was to build up the fortress in front of him, adding another pillar.
And why not add another tower, another 6-foot-+, hulking defenceman to guard and clear the front of the net – it’s the type of defenceman working for the Leafs right now.
Dion Phaneuf, leader of the pack, is six-foot-three, 214 pounds. His line mate Michael Kostka is six-foot-one, 210 pounds. Phaneuf and Kostka rack up more ice time than any other Leafs defencemen. The former is -2, in 36 games, and the latter -7, in 31 games.
Next up is Mark Fraser, who’s six-foot-three, 220 pounds. He’s +15, in 33 games, with 6 points. Both Phaneuf and Fraser are in the top ten for hits this season amongst defencemen.
O'Byrne is six-foot-three, 214 pounds. He’s -8 so far this year with the Colorado Avalanche in 34 games, with four points, and 54 penalty minutes.
He’s dropped down the minors twice in his six-year NHL career, most recently just last season, after two seasons with Colorado. He’s also played for Montreal.
He’s tied for 25th in hits by defencemen this season, with 76 compared to Fraser's 112 for second place. And, he's got 19 playoff games under his belt. Phaneuf's just ahead at 25.
So, what I’m getting at – looking forward to a hopefully rough playoffs – is that Leafs goalies have the makings of a castle in front of them. That helps. (Maybe more than Luongo or Kipper.)
Continuing to build a rough, tough, body-throwing, hard-hitting, large team just makes sense. Defencemen who can drop opposing forwards to the ice in front of the net and in corners help teams win rounds in the playoffs. No?
Now let’s get a look at some of O'Byrne’s You Tube highlights.
This just sucks, but may remind you who he is....oops....he really shot that right in there, he must of thought Price was still in net - I hope.
He’s articulate, candid, not afraid to drop the gloves, has a gash on his face from a skate, and is willing to fight, in any way, to earn his spot...again, good qualities come playoff time.
It does not hurt that he knows Boston's Zdeno Chara well and isn't afraid to hit him - the Leafs may face the Boston Bruins in the playoffs and the Bruins, and Chara, are a thorn in the Leafs' side.