The Toronto Maple Leafs are facing off against the St. Louis Blues on Saturday and although it is at the end of the day just another game on the calendar, this is one that many fans and certainly many Leafs have had circled on their calendar since the start of the season.
That's because Saturday will mark the return of a long time member of the Maple Leafs organization, veteran center Tyler Bozak to the Air Canada Center, the difference this time though is that he will be hitting the ice as a member of the St. Louis Blues and not as a member of the aforementioned Leafs.
The 32 year old winger walked away from the Leafs organization as an unrestricted free agent earlier this year, although there isn't a single Leaf fan that would blame him for doing so. It was clear that Bozak was headed for an increase in salary and it was equally obvious that the Leafs had no intention of offering him a competitive contract in that regard due to their young core of forwards, a core that in many ways made Bozak obsolete as far as their roster is concerned. As a result Bozak would go on to sign a 3 year deal with the Blues worth $15 million, a contract that works out to an average annual value of $5 million per season. It was the best move for both sides and by all accounts the split between the two parties has been nothing but amicable.
That being said though when Bozak returns tonight, a night that he has already admitted will be an emotional one for him, all of the warm and fuzzy feelings he still has for the Leafs and for the city of Toronto will have to be cast aside as he tries to secure two points for his new team. Naturally the Toronto media has been all over Bozak ahead of his first career game at the Air Canada Center in a visitors jersey, and so have his former teammates.
Bozak brought along both his wife and their new child to Toronto with him and it sounds like there was a very nice reunion with some of the players off the ice before they face of as enemies later today. Of course fans are less interested in the locker room friendships and more interested in how things will play out on the ice, and thankfully Bozak may have also provided us with a little sneak peak of that as well.
Bozak was asked which of his former teammates was the most likely to find themselves on the receiving end of some verbal barbs from him and he happily answered the question. Although Bozak was gracious with his answer he did make it clear that forward Mitch Marner is likely to be the target this evening due to the fact that his emotions are always running high.
"I honestly have no idea. Maybe Mitchy a little bit because he’s a little sensitive. Try to get him off his game a little bit. They are playing so well right now, I don’t think any little chirps will really deter them too much."
Long time Leaf fans will no doubt very much be looking forward to it.