by Curt Rush, Toronto Star
Last year was a turbulent year for Maple Leafs centre Peter Holland. Mostly, it was a year to forget.
He was in and out of the lineup and struggled to gain the trust of Leafs coach Randy Carlyle because, although he showed skill, he played too much on the periphery.
He didn’t seem to want to go into the so-called “dirty areas” of the ice.
Things hit a low point when Holland suffered a bad case of “lace bite,” in which the friction between the foot and boot leads to swollen tendons and makes tying your skates difficult.
In Holland’s case, the lace bite turned infectious and he was in the hospital for four days straight, getting antibiotic treatments in his arm to try to kill the infection.
In the morning, he would crumple in pain when he put his foot down to get out of bed.
He was on crutches for four or five days and then in a walking boot for a week or two after that.
“Lace bite by itself is manageable, but when you get an infectious disease, you can’t do much about that,” Holland said after practice on Monday as the Leafs prepared to host the Calgary Flames Tuesday night.
At the time, Carlyle shook his head when Holland’s injury surfaced.
“It’s a new one for me,” the coach said. “To me, it’s crazy. A guy wears a new pair of skates in the morning, plays the game that night and the next morning he has lace bite. Go figure.”
Later, when Holland was sent down to the Marlies for their playoff run, he was a little too casual.
Marlies head coach Steve Spott was so disappointed with Holland’s play that he called him in for a one-on-one meeting that turned intense. But Spott saw Holland’s strong will shine through.