Colaiacovo's focus Rock solid

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:45 AM ET

You won't find Carlo Colaiacovo's image splattered on local billboards or on the side of a TTC bus.

But for someone who has played just a handful of NHL games, there is no denying the young defenceman has developed a following among Leafs supporters.

Whenever the Maple Leafs defence slumped the past couple of seasons, it seemed cries of "Promote Carlo" would echo throughout the Air Canada Centre.

After a summer of intense workouts, Colaiacovo was poised to take that next step this season.

And with the Leafs opting not to re-sign veteran Bryan Marchment, a spot on the blue line was there for the taking.

But the NHL lockout changed all that.

Now, the Toronto native is faced with toiling on the Rock for the St. John's Maple Leafs for a second season.

In the eyes of the Leafs brass, that might not be such a bad thing.

"This league is a tremendous developmental league and can only help him," Leafs general manager John Ferguson said of the AHL.

"He is an excellent skater, handles the puck well and makes excellent decisions at the offensive blue line. Clearly, what we are focussing on is his game from our net out, especially down low in our own zone.

"Keeping pucks out of our net is a big thing."

Colaiacovo was slowed by a number of injuries last season. The scariest incident occurred when he was slammed into the corner of the penalty box while the door was open, leaving him out of action for weeks.

"I think one of the things that has hampered me over my career has been injuries," Colaiacovo, 21, said. "That's why my off-ice training has been so important. I jokingly told the trainers I would not be visiting their room this season.

"I thought I could crack the Leafs lineup this year but right now that's not going to happen. For the time being, I'm going to St. John's to work on all aspects of my game, especially getting better in the defensive end.

"I'm fortunate to be a Toronto kid playing in the Toronto organization. That's something I'll never take for granted."


Videos

Photos