Toronto-It’s only a quarter ways into the season and fair to say that I didn’t expect eight different Marlies to put on a Leafs sweater so soon. But then again, a slumping Leafs team had to do something even if it meant rushing their original plan. The Marlies all work hard every game hoping that the next phone call down to Head Coach Dallas Eakins will be the opportunity they have all dreamed about. Forward Marcel Mueller is no different.
Signed by GM Brian Burke in the off season, Mueller came to Toronto from Berlin, Germany with the vision of making the Leafs right out of training camp. Mueller, who is only 22, had many teams scouting him after playing so well for his home country in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics but decided Toronto was the best fit for one reason.
An average camp though led to him starting the season on the south side of the Gardiner Expressway in a Marlies uniform. To further impact the situation, a few bad bounces early in the season and shots that hit the post rather than the twine left Mueller’s efforts unnoticed. Perhaps the five years without a play-off game makes us fans believe whoever Burke signs will be an instant producer on the ice but it isn’t that easy.
“The small ice is a big difference, the game is way (more) intense than in Germany and I think for Europeans here the whole lifestyle is different” Mueller stated in late November after beating Grand Rapids 3-1.
The victory was not only great for the 7100 fans in attendance but it also gave Mueller his first goal of the season. Taking 19 games to score obviously wasn’t part of the plan but no doubt the burden was lifted from Mueller’s mind.
“He’s used to getting some points, that’s a big monkey off his back….I’d expect him to continue rolling a little more now,” teammate Joey Crabb had to say about Mueller.
At six-foot-three and 230 pounds he isn’t easy to miss and it would amaze you to see how much speed a big guy can have. He will fight for his teammates and isn’t afraid to send a message by dropping the gloves either. Since scoring his first North American goal, Mueller has added another goal and assist in the last four games. On the season he has two goals and five assists which doesn’t compare to his 53 points in 56 games last season in Germany but his time will come.
Along with Crabb, Luca Caputi, Christian Hanson, Korbinian Holzer, Nazem Kadri, Keith Aulie , James Reimer and Jay Rosehill have all played some minutes with the Toronto Maple Leafs this season. You can add forward Mike Zigomanis to that list; however his situation is awkwardly different. If Mueller continues to play the way he is, the bounces will go his way and I think he too will get an opportunity to grind it out for a game or two at the Air Canada Centre