The Muscle Game
Some hockey fans would suggest this is the least important positional battle of the Maple Leafs pre-season.
Other more truculent types would say it's not only important, but pivotal to the potential success of the team.
Me? Given a choice, I'd probably go without either Jay Rosehill or Colton Orr, and go with a more complete player. it's certainly debatable whether you need a tough guy. Detroit hasn't dressed an enforcer for a while, while Vancouver charged all the way to the Stanley Cup final last spring without a designated muscle man (sadly, the 'Nucks have apparently decided that tremendous success was not enough. They've added goon Todd Fedoruk and lead the NHL in fighting majors this fall).
But this is the Leafs we're talking about, and Brian Burke's Leafs. No chance he'll want this team to go without an enforcer. Nuclear deterrent, is what he likes to call it. The favourite example of the need for such a player you'll hear in Leaf circles is that Chris Neil of the Senators, a frequent opponent, is less likely to be uber-aggressive when there's a big pair of fists waiting for him (Again, I don't buy this stuff, but many do.)
So it's gotta be Orr or Rosehill, unless you'd advocate the inclusion of both in the Leaf lineup, as some would. Orr, 28, has the bigger contract, a $1 million hit for each of the next two seasons, while Rosehill, 26, will earn $600,000 this season and then hit restricted free agency next summer.
Both are players who have had to make the most of limited skills to work/fight there way to the NHL. Rosehill, however, is clearly the more effective of the two with his gloves on, while Orr is a feared heavyweight, more so than Rosehill, who's more of a gamer.
So let's play the game; if you have to pick one, which one do you pick?
I'd go with Rosehill. He skates much better and is a much more effective forechecker. On occasion, he can take the puck to the net, although he's not a threat to score.
Orr, by contract, might be the NHL's least talented player. A poor skater, his stick is where rushes go to die. When in New York, he was often used in a checking role, but that element of his game seems to have evaporated since he signed with the Leafs.
Finally, facts is facts; with Rosehill as essentially a regular, the Leafs were a better team a year ago than when Orr was in the lineup. Clearly, the impact of either on a hockey game is limited, but Rosehill's ability to add energy in the 5-7 minutes he was allotted was greater.
Again, the best Leaf fourth line, based on the bodies out for practice on Monday, would be something like Phillipe Dupuis between Mike Brown and Matt Frattin. But Burke believes in the need for muscle, and it's his team.