This season’s Blueprint has focused on the theme of redemption (see: Freddy Andersen, Matt Martin), and yesterday’s episode was no exception. This episode focused on the hockey career of young Tyler Bozak, from his childhood, to his signing in the midst of his NCAA career, to his current status as longest-tenured Leaf (!).
The opening scene made me wonder whether the episode was about the outdoor game, and perhaps the video staff should’ve saved the footage. It is of Bozak as a child, skating and dreaming on a frozen pond while someone with a video camera calls his plays.
Bozak’s voice tells the story of his youth. "I was pretty small, kind of a late bloomer. I've been doubted the whole time -- but I was never doubted by the people that mattered to me." PPP has long been full of Bozak doubters, and I couldn’t help but side-eye the production team for that one, but the point was valid: here is Bozak quietly telling his side of the tale.
The scene swings to Bozak’s signing and press conference as an actual young man. I know why they used the footage that they chose, because Bozak toes the current company line long before Lou appeared in Toronto. "The symbol on the jersey makes it pretty easy [to choose to play for the Leafs],” Bozak says, plucking at the front of his jersey.
After that, the scene shows Bozak’s first NHL goal, while he reminisces about his first few linemates. "That first year was awesome,” Bozak says. “I had the chance to play with some great players. I mean, I played with Phil Kessel right when I came up, and Nikolai Kulemin, and we worked good together as a line."
The Bozak redemption section ends with a summary of his impact on the new kids. There’s footage of Mitch Marner saying, "He's kind of like a dad figure to me,” (young Tyler Bozak — actual dad) and Bozak reaffirming his newfound dad-hood with the usual hockey player cliche: "I'm trying to be a leader for the younger guys and lead on and off the ice."
Finally, Bozak summarizes how he feels about the new regime after seven years of being a Leaf: "I was very confident in some of our teams in the past as well and it just didn't work out, but to be able to get these young guys in the draft, and see the impact they can have in games, those young guys are pretty mature for their age already, it was a little bit different than it was before, I think we were a lot more immature when I first came in."
And the old campaigner’s final take on the many changes sweeping through Toronto: "We're definitely on the right track now. We've got great coaching staff, good management...Fans are more excited than they have been since I've been here."
The second half of Blueprint focuses on three games — Caps @ Leafs, Leafs @ Edmonton, Leafs @ Vancouver, three games which resulted in a 1-1-1 record. I’ll let you guess the kind of story that the narrative tells, but one of the media clips played in back of the Vancouver game was, "Matt Martin really turned the flow.” With his fight, that is. Yeah.
At over 13 minutes, this Blueprint is one of the longer ones so far this season. If you like lovingly slow-mo’d line brawls (which I find kind of fun, actually), this episode is definitely for you.