It wasn’t much of a shock to anyone when Joe Colborne was assigned to the Toronto Marlies following training camp. Colborne, who arrived in Toronto last season from Boston as part of the Tomas Kaberle deal, was facing an uphill battle in beating out Tim Connolly, Mikhail Grabovski, Tyler Bozak, Philippe Dupuis, and Matthew Lombardi for a roster spot down the middle.
While some may have sulked in their demotion, Joe Colborne decided to make the most of it. The 6’5 pivot is off to an excellent start with three goals and three assists in three games heading into Sunday’s matinee game, and is committed to absorbing as much knowledge and experience in the AHL as he can.
“I’d be feeling better if I was up with the Leafs right now,” Colborne joked to a media scrum following the Marlies 4-2 victory over Lake Erie on Saturday afternoon. “But I have a great opportunity [to learn] from, if not the best coach in the AHL, then one of the best coaches in Dallas [Eakins].”
Colborne acknowledged that he is better known for his playmaking abilities, but noted his offseason goal of becoming a better shooter. “I wanted to make sure I become more of a dual-threat… It’s been paying off lately, but I still have some work to go.”
Marlies Assistant Coach Gord Dineen chimed in on Colborne’s recent success, stating, “he has the mindset that he’s going to be the best player on our team, and one of the top players in the American Hockey League, so that when the call does come his name is first and foremost.”
Dineen also praised Colborne’s improved skating this season, saying “there’s not too many guys that gain speed when they get the puck and he seems to be one of those guys.”
With an organizational logjam at center, especially after the recent acquisition of Dave Steckel, Colborne will likely spend the majority of the season with the Marlies, the benefit to which will be plenty of ice time.
The Marlies coaching staff will likely lean on Colborne to be the team’s offensive catalyst. A point-per-game season is not out of the question, and could set Joe Colborne up for permanent success with the big club as early as next year.