October 7, 2011
Building balanced brawlers
By MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency
At first, it might have appeared as if Mike Brown and Colton Orr were practising for a future segment of Battle of the Blades.
Until they dropped their gloves, that is.
At the end of the Leafs’ workout Friday at the MasterCard Centre, Orr took over the role as teacher, showing Brown some of the finer points it takes to get better leverage during a fight.
Interestingly, it reminded some observers of the way Tie Domi took the late Wade Belak under his wing years ago, showing his pupil the pugilistic ropes that go with being an enforcer in the NHL.
“We were working on Brownie’s balance and the different strategies you use when squaring off with a guy,” said Orr, who is generally considered to be among the toughest hombres in the league.
“(It’s rare) you are going to fight a guy who is the exact same height as you, so balance is important.”
Brown is grateful for the help.
“It’s great to get tips like that and learn the tendencies that guys have,” Brown said. “We’ve worked on it a bunch of times.”
Brown was asked if fighting has become a lost art in the sport.
“There is a lot of talk about how they are trying to take fighting out of the game,” he said. “But the way things are right now, they are almost taking hitting out of the game.”
Orr joked that Brown no longer looks as mean now that he has shaved off his trademark moustache.
“Hopefully that means I’ll be squaring off against less tougher guys,” he laughed.
Although he has been mentioned many times on Coach’s Corner, Orr had never met Don Cherry.
That changed on Thursday night after the Leafs’ 2-0 season-opening victory over the Montreal Canadiens at the Air Canada Centre.
“My wife and I were thrilled,” Orr said. “You grow up watching him as a kid. To actually finally meet him was outstanding.”
Orr, by the way, will replace Jay Rosehill in the Leafs lineup when they play host to the Ottawa Senators on Saturday.
Could it be that coach Ron Wilson wants Orr out there to ensure that the Sens’ Chris Neil doesn’t take liberties with some of Toronto’s skilled players?
Injured forward Nazem Kadri was back on the ice at the MasterCard Centre on Friday.
But before anyone could jump to any conclusions that the speedy forward might be closing in on a return, Wilson cautioned that Kadri likely wouldn’t see game action for another two weeks.
“When he’s ready, we’ll probably send him down to the Marlies on a rehab stint,” Wilson said. “He’ll need to play. And it won’t affect our roster (limit).”
Meanwhile forward Tim Connolly is doubtful to face Ottawa, Connolly has been out with a upper body injury believed to be an injured shoulder.
On Thursday, Wilson said Connolly likely could play if this was playoff time.
ALL IN THE FAMILY
Goalie James Reimer had lots of support in the building during his 2-0 shutout over the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday.
His parents and sisters are in from the Prairies, while his brother is living in Toronto this year.
Has he celebrated his opening-night whitewash yet?
“I think we’ll get Sunday off, so we’ll probably do it at Thanksgiving dinner,” Reimer said. “Sunday will be the real moment to let it sink in.
“Of course, we have to beat Ottawa first.”