A Toronto Maple Leafs has been benched after ending up on the highlight reel for all of the wrong reasons.
According to a breaking news report from Sportsnet's National Hockey League insider Chris Johnston, head coach Mike Babcock has benched 25 year old defenseman Igor Ozhiganov following the Leafs tough loss at the hands of the Ottawa Senators. Not only were the Maple Leafs expected to be a much better team than the Ottawa Senators this season but because of the local rivalry between the two organizations their games carry additional meaning for both fan bases. There's no question that the Leafs from an organization perspective, their players, and their fans were all very disappointed at the loss and at the way that they lost on Saturday night and unfortunately it seems like one player will be the one playing the price.
With Ozhiganov being put on the bench the Leafs will have 26 year old blue liner Martin Marincin stepping in to take his place and that decision has not been without controversy. There are a great many fans who feel like 26 year old defenseman Justin Holl has earned a spot in the line up and after recording 2 goals in his first 2 career games it's not hard to see why fans in Toronto are enamored with him. Additionally there is the fact that Holl is a right handed shooting defenseman, something that would make him a natural one for one replacement for Ozhiganov who also shoots right, while Marincin is a left handed shot. there's plenty of debate about the choice from Mike Babcock and no doubt that debate will continue on social media and forums but one thing that no one is complaining about is the fact that Ozhiganov has been benched in the first place.
As I mentioned before Ozhiganov was on every highlight reel in Ontario this morning as a result of a rather impressive looking play from Thomas Chabot, a 21 year old defenseman who hasn't exactly made a reputation for himself as one of the National Hockey League's elite danglers. In spite of that however Chabot absolutely put on a show in the first iteration of the Battle of Ontario this season, picking up a pair of goals one of which was stunning. Chabot dangle and slid the puck between the legs of the aforementioned Ozhiganov on his way to the Maple Leafs net before scoring an absolute beauty on Maple Leafs number 1 goaltender Frederik Andersen.
Now it's probably a little unfair on my part to suggest that head coach Mike Babcock has decided to bench Ozhiganov entirely on the basis of a single moment over the past two games, but I also think it would be unfair to suggest that the goal from Chabot played no part in the decision. By now every single hockey fan in Ontario has seen the goal, likely multiple times, and you can bet everyone in the Leafs organization has seen it as well. A tough break for Ozhiganov to be sure but also one of his own making.