We all saw it coming, but it still came as a shock when longtime Toronto Maple Leafs centre Tyler Bozak elected to leave the team as a free agent and signed a three year, $15 million deal with the St. Louis Blues in the opening hours of free agency this past weekend.
The 32 year old Bozak has played all nine seasons of his pro career with the Leafs organization, scoring 136 goals and 365 points in 594 career NHL games. The native of Regina, Saskatchewan was signed as a college free agent by former Leafs general manager Brian Burke after fending off offers from 24 other NHL teams. The undrafted NCAA star scored eight goals and 23 points in just 19 games during his sophomore year with the University of Denver and turned that into a nice NHL career with the Leafs when Burke came calling.
Arguably Bozak’s best season in Toronto came during the 2014-15 season in which he scored 23 goals and 49 points playing alongside former Leafs sniper Phil Kessel. in 2016-17, with Kessel now traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins, Bozak stepped out from Kessel’s shadow and put up a career best 55 points. This past season, he managed a respectable 11 goals and 43 points in 81 games, playing mostly as a third line centre behind Auston Matthews and Nazem Kadri.
With Bozak making the decision to move on to the Blues, he took some time to pen an emotional letter to the city of Toronto for The Players’ Tribune. If you haven’t read it yet, do yourself a favor and read the entire article. It’s definitely worth your time.
Here are just a few tidbits:
Being a Maple Leaf is all I’ve ever known. So before I leave, I just wanted to say thank you.
All the visits to the SickKids hospital in Toronto, those were the most important days to me. To make a difference in their lives and see their faces — it was a priceless experience. And I thank the Leafs for the opportunity to do so. It’s truly a world class organization.
I’ve been texting James Van Riemsdyk pretty often the last few weeks. We’ve been talking about how weird it’s going to be not playing together. He was my linemate for a long time in Toronto, and I owe him a lot for my success — he’s a great friend. We’re both going to miss playing for this city. But we know this: You’re in good hands, Toronto. The next few years are going to be a lot of fun. Believe in Kyle Dubas and the talent you have. Auston, William and Mitch can do anything. Trust me, I saw them in practice every day, they’re special.
Click the link below to read the full article: