Can the Leafs dictate physical play this season?
Still, whether it was Mike Komisarek depositing Francis Lessard into the Leafs bench or Jay Rosehill pounding on David Hale or any of the occasional teeth-gnashing scrums, one thing was clear: The Leafs will be a much tougher team this season than they were two years ago.
"The biggest thing that struck me my first year here was the lack of respect that teams demonstrated toward us," GM Brian Burke told me recently. "I think our trainer was on the ice every night."
The addition of Colton Orr seemed to give the trainers a rest. This season, secondary toughness will come from several players, including Mike Brown, who Burke says can take care of business "when the big man (Orr) is in the box for 5 minutes."
But while Burke is pleased opposing teams seem less inclined to trash talk and face wash after every whistle, he still isn't satisfied.
"Last year we did not have an intimidation problem but we didn't dictate the physical play, which is what I like," says Burke. "That's what my teams have always done."
Can the Leafs dictate physical play this season? Should that even be a concern? Or should the team worry less about "pugnacity," "testosterone" "truculence" and "belligerence," and worry more about, say, "scoring" and "penalty killing"?
What do you think?
PHOTO: DAVID COOPER/TORONTO STAR