Don Cherry not completely off base in comparing Dave Bolland to Doug Gilmour

Neil Acharya

Dave Bolland's debut at the Air Canada Centre was made a little more interesting by Don Cherry this past Saturday night. Cherry, 79, likened the Toronto Maple Leafs new centreman to Doug Gilmour during Coaches Corner on Hockey Night in Canada.

Bolland had an assist in his first home game as a Maple Leaf, giving him three points in three games with his new club.

Toronto defeated Ottawa 5-4 in a shootout to move to 3-0-0 on the season.

After the game, Bolland seemed taken a back by the endorsement from Grapes, saying that growing up, he modeled his game after Gilmour.

"It's pretty high praise," Bolland said. "A guy like Doug Gilmour, he's a legend in this league.”

While Cherry took some heat on Twitter for the comparison - primarily because of the obvious difference in the offensive prowess between the two players - there certainly are some similarities, namely their gritty-two way style of play and winning pedigree.

Both Gilmour and Bolland won Memorial Cup championships while in junior. Gilmour laid claim to the title while with the Cornwall Royals in the early eighties, Bolland was victorious with the London Knights in 2004-05.

Senators defenseman Marc Methot, was playing against Bolland on Saturday, but the two were once teammates on Dale Hunter's championship Knights squad.

"Winning some championships, winning the Memorial Cup and winning in Chicago has elevated his game mentally and you can see it. He is so composed out there," Methot said of Bolland. "He plays a checking role but he still has flashes of high skill, he brings everything."

Mason Raymond concurs with Methot’s assessment, he has had a strong start to the season playing on a line centered by Bolland

“He has won two Cups, that speaks volumes right there,” said Raymond, who is tied for the team lead in points with 2 goals and 2 assists. “He is looking good on the ice, he is making plays, he is such a reliable two way guy and that’s important, it’s a real treat to play with him and if I can keep playing with him, I look forward to the opportunity.”

Bolland currently leads the team with a +3 rating.

Prior to his draft day acquisition by Toronto, Bolland had just come off scoring the 2013 Stanley Cup winning goal in the sixth and deciding game against the Boston Bruins. It was the second Cup of his career, he was also an integral member of the 2010 Blackhawks, recording 16 points in the playoffs.

Gilmour, who came to the Maple Leafs a few seasons removed from winning what would be his lone Stanley Cup with the Flames in 1989, also scored the winning goal in the deciding game.

Bolland’s complete play, in addition to the fact that he is from Mimico, a neighbourhood in the Toronto suburb of Etobicoke – less than 15 kms from the ACC, has endeared him to fans.

His tenacious play in all three zones was on full display Saturday.

Aside from his clever backhand assist, he back-checked vigorously and also drew a penalty in the waning seconds of overtime when he was hauled down on a partial breakaway.

Unlike Gilmour, who was the focal point of a major rebuilding project for the franchise, Bolland comes to a team that made great strides last season - reaching the playoffs for the first time in nearly a decade.

Although it is early in the season, he thinks his new team has what it takes to make the next step.

“I think we’ve got a great group, a special group here that can go far.”