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Leafs’ Gunnarsson ready to be a leader

Buffalo Sabres v Toronto Maple Leafs

TORONTO, CANADA - JANUARY 21: Carl Gunnarsson #36 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates up the ice against the Buffalo Sabres during NHL action at the Air Canada Centre January 21, 2013 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)

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Toronto’s Carl Gunnarsson is ready to be more of a leader with the Maple Leafs.

At 26 years old he’s entering his fifth season in the NHL and he tells Jonas Siegel of TSN he’s eager to take a bigger role with the team and become one of their best defensemen.

“Some guys talk a lot, some guys don’t,” Gunnarsson said of leadership. “But if you can say something in the room that’s good or if you can just help the new guys out with whatever it might be ... I’ve been here for awhile, had Randy for a season and a half. I’m one of those guys that kind of knows what it’s all about. And obviously I need to be reminded too, but if I can help some other guys get into it quicker that’s part of it.”

One of those “other guys” is a younger player like Jake Gardiner who had his own ups and downs with coach Randy Carlyle last year. While he’s talented, he was still a bit green and had his own ups and downs with the team. Gunnarsson wants to provide the stability his coach desperately seeks from his blue liners.

As for Gunnarsson himself, with Cody Franson still unsigned and a newer guy like Paul Ranger pushing to make the club, his steadiness will be needed.

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