T.J. Brennan trying to catch eye of Leafs

Marlies defenceman T.J. Brennan could be the next played called up by the struggling Leafs in the...

Marlies defenceman T.J. Brennan could be the next played called up by the struggling Leafs in the new year. (Dave Abel/QMI Agency)

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:24 PM ET

TORONTO - The symbiotic relation of the Maple Leafs and Marlies last season helped breed a playoff culture.

In a 48-game season, able to draw on a farm team with veterans parked during the lockout, help was readily available in camp and kept coming as the Leafs protected their post-season berth rather than chase one.

A year later, circumstances have certainly changed, at least for the Leafs. They’ve run into scoring woes and over-taxed a defence mostly unable to repeat its solid play. Toronto, currently seed eighth in the Eastern Conference, enters Friday’s home game against the Buffalo Sabres with three wins in their past 13 games — and sore necks from looking back at a growing number of challengers for the last couple of playoff spots.

The Marlies, meanwhile, had a changing of the guard to accommodate a large incoming group of draft picks from 2008-11. Thus, it was believed the pipeline from the Ricoh Coliseum to the Air Canada Centre would slow to a trickle, if not shut down completely.

Yet, new Marlies coach Steve Spott has been able to send up captain Trevor Smith into a near-regular role with the Leafs plumbers, joined recently by Jerry D’Amigo and Jerred Smithson. Carter Ashton and Troy Bodie also have moved back and forth.

When 2014 rolls around, pending the Leafs’ health or a trade by general manager Dave Nonis, there could be even more work for Marlies such as defenceman T.J. Brennan.


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