Say His Name, Air Canada Centre. ”J…V…R”
JVR for Schenn.
To talk about James van Riemsdyk in Toronto we at least have to cover this. Sorry Luke.
Yep. Just like my scotch, straight up. I don’t intend on throwing any slashes Luke Schenn’s way, the guy is going to play 1000 games in the NHL and will be an honest player for many years. But one has to think that Brian Burke slipped Paul Holmgren a “mickey” when this deal was finalized.
Schenn, touted as a big stay at home cornerstone defenseman coming out of junior, was coming off his worst season as a Leaf. As a matter of fact, his play dipped each and every year he was in Toronto. On the outside, this trade looked like two teams exchanging youth to fill organizational needs. Those of us who followed Schenn’s stock steadily plummet had a much different take on the deal.
Granted, I hadn’t seen a ton of Van Riemsdyk play prior to the deal. Many of my Flyers pals had told me that he was inconsistent and left you wanting more. That’s all well and good, but the JVR that was implanted in my brain was the big kid who dominated entire shifts during his playoff performances. The same youngster I saw as a U.S. World Junior team member who was borderline unstoppable when he headed to the net with the puck in stride.
There’s no real nice way to put it. One would almost feel guilty about pulling that swap. I traded a Doug Drabek rookie card for Pat LaFontaine’s when I was 12 and I still feel bad sometimes. But I’m guessing the Leafs aren’t kept up at night wrestling their conscience. I bet they feel pretty darn good about having JVR in the fold, and even better about the contract he came with.
JVR makes $4.25 million per season and is locked up long term. I think Toronto is quite okay with that. Is there a better contract in the league?
[quote font=”0″ align=”right”]JVR makes $4.25 million per season and is locked up long term. I think Toronto is quite okay with that. Is there a better contract in the league?[/quote]
James Van Riemsdyk joined forces with Phil Kessel and Tyler Bozak to form one of the most dynamic lines in the league last year. The success and chemistry the trio had together is undeniable. It seemed as if when JVR and Kessel were involved in an odd man rush scoring was a formality. Just go line up at center. For this instance though, I’d like to separate #21 from the group and look at his skill set on an island.
For Van Riemsdyk, that island is named the “Crease”. You can’t find it on a globe. You’ll find it on the painted ice surfaces across the NHL.
Cody Franson said last year that JVR had a “No Flight Zone”. Meaning if you sent a puck his way from the point…..it’s going down. The left winger has an innate ability to get his stick on pucks around the net. There aren’t many who can roof the puck like Van Riemsdyk, and his patented play where he faces behind the net and spin-curls out front (best I could come up with) has proven to be a very difficult play to defend.
And it’s not as if this guy can’t wheel. Although a big man Van Riemsdyk can get his engine going. He may not have the quickest first step in the league, but once he’s got his motor up to full speed, hang on for the ride.
Think of Dave Andreychuk, now send him out of a man sized sling shot.
Much has been said recently about the changes to the game experience and settings at the ACC. The intent is to enhance the experience and to infuse a new energy into the often mundane home of the Leafs. If this proves to be true and the fans hop on board, there’s a three letters I envision echoing through the ACC when the time is right.
And that’s “J”, followed by a “V”, finishing with an “R”.
I’m aware that chants don’t usually fire up without some winning history behind them. I want to put the cart before the horse this time because JVR is a thoroughbred. I get the impression we are just yet scratching the surface with this budding star. Yes, he formed a big part of Toronto’s #1 line this season past. What I’ve saw last night and in preseason only reaffirms my summer thought that JVR needs his own line to carry. It’s the ol’ eggs in one basket theory.
With Van Riemsdyk and Kessel having their own lines to drive you may slightly weaken your top line, but you’ve spread out the wealth and created a nightmare for opposing coaches. Both are capable of being go-to guys and I’m curious as to what JVR’s limits actually are.
Most pundits predict a season similar to last year, and although that’s the safe bet and likely the outcome, I continue to question if the bar is set high enough for the 6’3” talent. How many times can JVR bring us to our feet this season? This young player is entering his man-hood.
If JVR continues on his path off improvement who knows how many times he’ll “tickle the twine” this upcoming season. I don’t see any reason aside from health that he won’t get Leafs fans up from their chairs 40 times in 2014/2015. He hits that 40 goal mark one would have to think the Maple Leafs playoff chances are in good shape.
I’m aware those are lofty expectations, for both the playoff berth and the prediction of 40 tally-whackers. They are not, however, out of the realm of possibility. In JVR’s case don’t be floored if there’s a new goal scoring leader for the Blue and White this year.
Kessel and Van Riemsdyk can help push each other and exploit match-ups that will prove unfavorable. If kept united, that’s rosy too. They’ve already proven to be a tremendous fit together.
James van Riemsdyk is elite. He’s a gifted power forward with speed, remarkable hands and a nose for the net (his work on the PK hasn’t gone unnoticed). Here’s a guy that the crowd needs to appreciate and even celebrate.
So patrons of the ACC, if change is really upon us, when that big, skilled, wonderful player puts your Leafs up by one, or finishes off one of his end to end bursts, let’s hear his name Leaf Nation, let’s bring some life to the joint!
Photo source: NHL.com via Getty Images