Yeah, except for the part where that didn't actually happen, you have a point.
I'm not exactly defending Leino here with the following comment. It's actually from a place that just dislikes Jason Williams. On the line of Leino-Filppula-Williams, which was what they started the year with, I'm almost positive Babs demanded that Leino play the role of Cleary/Homer on that line. I'm sure Leino thought, "How does this guy get to be one of the two skill guys on this line over me?"
Not saying Leino was justified for not playing hard enough, but if I were Leino I probably wouldn't like seeing a ****** like Williams have a job that I think I should have.
Not even Homer gets pigeon-holed into the 'Homer role' all that often 5v5. We're not on the PP all game, and at even strength every player on the ice is expected to move around, pursue the puck, get open, shoot, make plays...that's exactly what has made us so good for so long is that we specifically don't try to limit our players. Leino was never asked to just park himself in front of the net. He had plenty of freedom offensively.
And while that line didn't produce many points, they did earn a lot of praise pre-season and the first handful of games for all the chances and pressure they created. It was only after like 8-10 games that Babs started pointing out that you can't score if no one shoots, or shoots only from the perimeter with no traffic or net crashing for rebounds.
Shortly after that Flip got hurt, then Willy. Leino had chances with better players and more minutes, PP time...but he kept getting worse and played himself off the team. Then he goes to Philly and eventually started doing all the things Babs said he needed to do, and surprise, he was successful.
I suppose you could say the defensive responsibility all our players are expected to show was limiting, but it's not like he was asked to be a checker. He's a scorer that was put in a scoring role. Maybe he didn't fit Babcock's style, or didn't mesh on or off the ice with his teammates, or just lost confidence and got frustrated. Maybe needed more ice time with better/different linemates more suited to compensate for his weaknesses. Maybe couldn't take the pressuure of being expected to score when injuries started piling up. Maybe he was just lazy and sucked.
But to suggest his talent wasn't recognized and he was mis-used is ridiculous. Flip and Willy maybe weren't the best linemates, but he was a rookie and it was a short period of games that looked promising at first. Without the injuries the lines would have been juggled eventually, and maybe we'd have found a combination with better results. With the injuries it was surely a tough situation for Leino, and I don't have any ill-will towards him. But you can't blame the team.
Sorry for going way off-topic.
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