SUN Hockey Pool

Leafs search for answers as 'D' struggles

Jake Gardiner and Jamie Devane during a Toronto Maple Leafs practice at the Air Canada Centre...

Jake Gardiner and Jamie Devane during a Toronto Maple Leafs practice at the Air Canada Centre October 7, 2013. (Ernest Doroszuk/Toronto Sun/QMI Agency)

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:24 PM ET

TORONTO - Remember the old Magnificent Seven movies?

Meet the Deficient Seven, starring nightly on the Maple Leafs’ blue line for 50-plus games since last season. Whether it’s their own coach’s nit-picking, a critical media market, fickle fans or their own limitations, it seems none of the seven (sometimes eight) can please more than a few people at once.

The various knocks range from overrated (Dion Phaneuf) to unsteady (Paul Ranger), unready (Morgan Rielly) and incompatible (Jake Gardiner). If you say Carl Gunnarsson does some things that don’t show up the score sheet, someone else will snap, “That’s exactly the problem.”

Cody Franson might be the poster boy for all seven, for his annual autumn contract wrangle with a team that can’t put a fixed value on him, yet gives big minutes and trusts him to play with many youngsters.


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