Toronto, ON, Canada (4E Sports) – Center Leo Komarov came to America with only one purpose in mind — to play in the National Hockey League.
Komarov’s dream was well within reach when he was picked 180th overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2006 NHL Draft.
However, he did not make it to the team and instead displayed his wares for the Moscow Dynamos in the Kontinental Hockey League the last three years.
Last summer, Komarov’s NHL dream became a reality when he was eventually signed by the Maple Leafs.
But his dream was dashed anew, this time by the NHL lockout. Now, Komarov plans to return to the KHL after a stint with the Toronto Marlies in the American Hockey League.
“It’s not cutting ties,” said Marlies head coach Dallas Eakins, who expects Komarov to continue playing in the AHL until everything gets worked out.
The Leafs are also hoping that Komarov will come back to Toronto if and when the NHL season starts.
“It’s a part of the lockout. If there was no lockout, this would not be going on at all. He would be playing for our team or the Toronto Maple Leafs,” Eakins said.
“One of the big things is Leo wants to make sure, if he does leave, he can come back if the lockout ends. No matter what happens, this kid is a good prospect,” he added.
Komarov has made an immediate impact in the AHL, scoring five goals with two assists and 20 penalty minutes in 11 games.
“He has been a pest, he skates well, he’s been extremely hard to play against. And that’s what you need … he’s brought it both ways for me,” Eakins said.
Eakins said that Komarov’s chances of playing with the Leafs will not be affected by his decision to return to Russia.
“I have a very good gauge of what he’s going to bring over here now,” said Eakins. “He’s had a real good audition. Would I like him to stay? Absolutely.”