Jake Gardiner: Marlies best place to be

Jake Gardiner leads the Marlies in goals by defencemen (six), is fourth in points (12) and has just...

Jake Gardiner leads the Marlies in goals by defencemen (six), is fourth in points (12) and has just one minor penalty. (MICHAEL PEAKE/QMI Agency)

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:40 AM ET

TORONTO - Of all Leafs prospects who had to start with the Marlies this year, Jake Gardiner had the most reason to be resentful.

Given he had proven he could keep up with the big boys, playing 75 NHL games with 30 points and a spot on the all-rookie team blueline, a high degree of frustration might have been expected. But the 22-year-old has been the least of coach Dallas Eakins’ worries, leading the farm team in goals by defencemen (six), is fourth in points (12) and has just one minor penalty.

“The reason I wasn’t worried about him was what he put in during the playoffs last year,” Eakins said on Wednesday at Ricoh Coliseum. “He gave us an amazing effort. He spent almost (82 games) in the NHL, but there was no negativity. Now he has been part of a run (to the Calder Cup final) and when you are with a team like that, it’s a special bond. I knew it would still be there this year. Secondly, he’s a good kid, a character guy and you just never have a problem with players such as that


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