Jake Gardiner impressive in return to Maple Leafs

Newly-minted Maple Leaf Jake Gardiner uses his impressive speed to wheel around Tyler Johnson of...

Newly-minted Maple Leaf Jake Gardiner uses his impressive speed to wheel around Tyler Johnson of the Tampa Bay Lightning during his return to the big club last night. (Dave Abel/Toronto Sun)

STEVE SIMMONS, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:48 AM ET

TORONTO - He does what no one else can do. That’s why you can’t take your eyes off Jake Gardiner.

He can be first up the ice, first one back, all in a matter of seconds. He raced to the blueline, to a loose puck, that no other Toronto defenceman could possibly have reached and kept it in the offensive zone. Little things. Little quick things.

That’s the tease and the taunt that can be Gardiner: And the excitement Leafs management can quietly celebrate.

The Leafs didn’t win Wednesday night’s latest game of the century — or of the season — because young Gardiner returned from purgatory. But there was a welcome change on the Maple Leafs blueline, and a new beginning for both a player and a team each in need of one.


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