Yesterday before the draft John Michael Liles was dealt to the Toronto Maple Leafs for a 2012 2nd round pick. I do not want to go on about whether or not the move was positive or negative and instead focus on looking at JML as a fan.
I remember as a young Avalanche fan my favorite player was Stephane Yelle and a few years later Martin Skoula then in the ’03-’04 season Skoula was traded and my favorite player quickly became John Michael Liles who was playing in his rookie year. The next season was the year of the strike but then I remember going to MSG for the Avalanche-Rangers game in ’05-’06, which the Avalanche won 2-1. The moment that stood out for me was when a Ranger fan behind me asked who my favorite player was and when I proclaimed “John Michael Liles” he was impressed that I had picked an underdog player. I felt proud as a 15 year old fan that due to my allegiance to an underdog my fandom was not questioned or called bandwagoning. I myself always felt like I sailed under the radar so I always tend to pick players who do the same. Although Liles gained popularity over the years I stood with him as my favorite player. Every season from then till now I battled through gut wrenching trade deadlines where he was mentioned in every rumor. This past season I feel Liles truly took a large step in becoming a great leader. He had a great statistical season but his leadership impressed me much more. No matter which direction the Leafs and Avalanche go from here n out the Leafs have gained a great man and leader to their roster. Good luck Johnny we will miss you!