Schenn becomes face of Leafs franchise

LANCE HORNBY, Sun Media

, Last Updated: 12:29 AM ET

If it seems Luke Schenn or his No. 2 are on most billboards, TV ads and various propaganda put out by the Maple Leafs, it’s no accident.

With no signature player to focus upon - Phil Kessel arrived too late - and looking for something to give fans hope after four years out of playoffs, the just-turned 20-year-old is getting a lot of exposure heading into the season.

LeafsTV features the NHL all-rookie team defenceman in dynamic spots, the never-ebbing Leaf replica sweater business at the club’s ACC stores uses him in its ads and a club caravan that replicates the team dressing room also has a No. 2. haning in the stall.

The marketing campaign was approved by general manager Brian Burke.

“The first thing you think about is whether the kid is level-headed,” Burke said. “But there’s no worry with Luke. We were cognizant of the risks, but we have no worries that seeing himself on a billboard or TV will go to his head.

“Secondly, you want to use a player that’s likely to be here a long time.”

Burke has said he’d have sent Schenn back to Kelowna of the WHL had he been in charge this time last year, but saluted former GM Cliff Fletcher’s faith that Schenn was ready for the big time. Fletcher remains a senior advisor to Burke.

As for Schenn, a Saskatchewan native who became a fan favourite for his steady play and willingness to fight many of his meek team’s battles last season, he’s trying to avoid a sophomore slip.

“It’s pretty cool to be looking around and see yourself,” he admitted. “But you don’t want to look too long. Last year was an unbelievable experience, but it’s a new season for me and the team.”

lance.hornby@sunmedia.ca


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