JR Part Two
Not that anything Jeremy Roenick is thinking is ever a state secret, but it looks like I was on the money last night regarding his possible desire to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs next season. Of course, that should be no surprise anyway - every available free agent wants to come to Toronto. Just ask any Leaf fan.
Seriously though, yesterday, Roenick told crack beat writer Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun that Toronto and Ottawa are his two favoured destinations next year:
"I've always had a lot of respect for the Senators and I know that they would be a great team to play with because they've got a lot of talent and a chance to win the Stanley Cup," said Roenick.
"As for Toronto, that would be great as well. Toronto is the hockey mecca. People live and breathe the game there. They care about it. They are such passionate fans. What hockey player wouldn't want to be part of something like that? It would be special for that to happen."
It all makes sense. From the Ottawa angle, Roenick is comfortable in the nation’s capital, having played in junior across the river for the Hull Olympiques, correctly believing it was his path to the NHL (I can’t resist quoting this man):
"It's not my fault (Garth Snow) didn't have any other options coming out of high school. If going to college gets you a career backup goaltender job, and my route gets you a thousand points and a thousand games, and compare the two contracts, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out whose decision was better."
And of course, Ottawa remains Vegas’ odds-on favourite (6-1) to win the Cup next year. The Toronto reasoning is even more obvious - in his own words, Roenick sees the city as the “hockey mecca.” And beginning with Punch Imlach, no team in the league has a history of recycling formerly-successful personalities like the Leafs do.
Roenick is pulling out all the stops in his crusade. Just in case any fans living in a cave didn’t notice his interview with TSN or the Sun, he also spoke last night with Eklund’s hockey blog, leaving an open letter on the site declaring his desires. It’s strange though, that he left the teams unnamed here for “politically correct” reasons, but cited them for Garrioch’s notepad. Oh well.
“People who live and breath (sic) hockey as Canadians do, I've always respected that. I don't know if it will be this year but I do have a couple teams high on my wish list for that to happen. I'm hoping there is interest by these teams in mind, cause as you know, they have to want ME as well.”
You can’t help but laugh. Not only has Roenick, at the lowest point of his career, decided who he’s going to play for, but the “couple teams” in this contest to win the contract of the American Idol are going to have to pick up the phone and ask him to suit up. Pretty please. But Roenick wouldn’t be who he is without the all the grandstanding moxie; that’s just JR, being JR.
Part of me knows Toronto should walk away and let Roenick fulfill his Canadian hockey dream in Ottawa instead. I know there are so many other, more suitable players for the team to sign instead of him. There’s a rebuild underway - isn’t there? I know that Roenick has proven himself to be a lightning rod for controversy, is a distraction, is a player on the decline, and with his concussion history, could be one bodycheck away from never playing another game.
But another part of me sees a heart-and-soul player with a proven playoff record, who loves and honours the game like nobody else, playing himself into the shape of his life so that he can “ give back to my fans the player that once was.”
This is the whole Charlie Brown and the football thing again. Yet another former all-star wants to play for Toronto. I can’t believe I’m even considering this. Should the Leafs take a chance on Jeremy Roenick?
“I know I'm long winded, but I do care. It's going to be a blast trying to get that Cup, and a thrill if I can show all my nay-sayers which one of my fingers is the longest.
LOVE THE GAME,
36, that’s not too old - is it? Maybe there’s room on the third line…
Yeah, I know. I’m a dope.