Mike Komisarek and John-Michael Liles, to meet, are both friendly and courteous fellows. In this age of Oscar Pistorius and beyond, we dare not go further than that, although if requested, testimonials would be easily acquired on behalf of both men.
Liles, since coming to Toronto, has endeavoured to be part of several charitable efforts, including Liles’ Buds, partnering with the Canadian Safe School Network to recognize young people who show community awareness and perform acts of kindness.
Both Komisarek and Liles are also respected, long-time pros who have played well, sometimes very well, at times in the NHL.
All of this is written to make one clear point; there should be no joy in Leaf-ville that both men were in the press box in Sunrise, Fla. on Monday night, putting $8.35 million of blueline talent off the active roster. There should not be any rejoicing simply because two proud NHLers are suddenly on the outside looking in.
Komisarek, the whipping post of seasons past, has played only four games and simply can’t bust his way into the lineup. Liles was scratched Monday against the Panthers to make room for Carl Gunnarson, back from hip problems. The former Colorado defenceman played fairly well early in the season, but his prowess in the offensive zone generally isn’t matched in the defensive zone, something that may not fit easily with defensive-minded head coach Randy Carlyle.
Komisarek has one more year left at $4.5 million. He may be bought out this summer. Liles has three more years left at $3.875 million, not an onerous salary but one not moved easily, either.
Both could return to active duty at some point, even soon, so this is not necessarily the conclusion to their careers as valued Leafs.