It was an eventful day at the Mastercard Centre in Etobicoke, ON, as the Toronto Maple Leafs opened training camp with medical exams, media availabilities with a number of players, head coach Mike Babcock and GM Kyle Dubas.
Both Babcock and Dubas confirmed that the Leafs will not name a team captain this season and instead will have a trio of veterans will wear an “A” on their jersey and who will take the spot of the absent William Nylander alongside Auston Matthews and Patrick Marleau.
Here are some quotes on a number of pertinent issues on Day 1:
Head coach Mike Babcock on the difference between the club when he started with Toronto and now:
“Oh come on, we were the worst team in hockey. We were also going in the wrong direction for one year when you think about it.….so we could go in the right direction. Now we are on the map with other good teams.”
On how the team can be competitive:
“I think we are set up real good here for a five-to-seven year run. Anybody whose been around winning in the National Hockey League knows you need a run. It’s not about one year, it’s about a run. You’re always “all in” in the year you’re in, but you need a run and not everything goes the way you want it to go all the time, but steady on the rudder (and) stay with the same process we’re in.”
On the dividing up ice time:
“The way I look at it is, if the shift length is the right length, so (between) 42 and 44 seconds, everyone is going to get lots of ice time and we are going to skate fresh. When we play our players less, we’ve won….and when we play them more, we know we’re behind and we’re chasing the game and we never win those games, but the end everyone looks at the sheet, I look at the score.”
“On good teams, you might not get as much ice time, you just get more winning and in the end, I think that’s probably what it’s about.”
Babcock indicated to TSN’s Darren Dreger that the Leafs will have three alternate captains this season; Patrick Marleau, Morgan Rielly and John Tavares.
With Nylander not in camp, veteran Tyler Ennis will fill in on the right side with Marleau and Matthews.
GM Kyle Dubas on the status of talks with Nylander:
“This is not an uncommon situation, it’s happening throughout the league with restricted free agents. We continue to have dialogue with their side and when we have an update, you’ll receive it and we’ll go from there.”
On the state of the defense:
“I do like our defense. When people ask, I think they are asking ‘can you go out and land one of these high-end, top-10 defenseman in the league’ type people. I think that underestimates what Morgan (Rielly) and Jake (Gardiner) have done and I think with (Nikita) Zaitsev healthy, with Travis Dermott continuing to develop, with Ron Hainsey there to solidify things. We’ve got a real good group of younger people coming up behind them and I’m excited to see them them in camp.”
On the Leafs being the choice of NHL Players on the recent media tour to win the Stanley Cup:
“I think that expectations, you can look at them in two ways. You can look at them as pressure, or you can look at them as an opportunity you’ve earned, and I think relative to our players, they’ve earned the respect of their peers through their performance to date and John (Tavares) coming is the thing that sort of moved our team to the upper echelon.”
On whether players no longer waiver exempt (Justin Holl, Frederik Gauthier) will be a factor in them making the Leafs:
“Every element of a player’s status factors into the decision you make about them. How they perform, what their contract situation is, what their waiver situation is. The two players you are talking about specifically have performed well at the NHL level and they were obviously key parts for the Marlies all throughout last year. Freddy played against the team’s best players every shift and Justin Holl played against the team’s best players every shift and they all had success.”
#Leafs John Tavares on what he can do when there are expectations and opportunity
"Be motivated and determined to win the Stanley Cup"
Travis Dermott on whether he has been told whether he will play on the left side exclusively or could play on the right side:
“Not yet. Whatever happens, happens. I’ll be happy wherever they put me and try to do my best, but nothing has been said so far.”
Garret Sparks on if he is prepared for the adjustment of being a primary starter to being a backup:
“I don’t think that there is an adjustment that needs to be made. Playing games is amazing and that’s what you love to do as a goaltender, but when you have an opportunity to play with an NHL team and practice with NHL players on a daily basis, you have this kind of resource system and all the access to everything we that have here, there is no shortage of work that you can do.”
Patrick Marleau on his new linemate Matthews:
“It’s going to be fun. It doesn’t matter who you’re playing with out there, we’ve got some great players, but to have the opportunity to play with Auston, it’s going to be big for me. I just got to make sure I’m doing my job and helping him out.”
Mitch Marner on how his contract talks with the club are going:
“There hasn’t been too much talk. It doesn’t matter, I still have this full year ahead of me and next year is really the point where it has to happen.”
Matthews on his contract talks with the club:
“I’m not too worried about it. I just let my agent and management handle that, so I can go out and focus on hockey. Whether or not I sign before the season, during or after, it doesn’t make too big of a difference. I don’t care, I know eventually it will get done and it’s not really the main focus for myself right now. I’ll just let that work out itself."
The Leafs 2018 – 19 Radio and TV Schedule
Tues., Sept. 18...7:30 p.m. vs Ottawa..Lucan Community Memorial Centre*Sportsnet Ontario
Wed., Sept 19....7:30 p.m. at Ottawa....Canadian Tire Centre...TSN4
Fri., Sept. 21......7:30 p.m. vs Buffalo...Scotiabank Arena Sportsnet ONE
Sat., Sept. 22.....7:00 p.m. at Buffalo...KeyBank Center Sportsnet Ontario
Mon., Sept. 24....7:30 p.m. vs.Montreal Scotiabank Arena...TSN4
Wed., Sept. 26....7:30 p.m. at Montreal Bell Centre...TSN4
Fri., Sept. 28......7:30 p.m. vs.Detroit....Scotiabank Arena...TSN4
Sat., Sept. 29.....7:00 p.m. at Detroit....Little Caesars Arena Sportsnet Ontario
Please note: TSN Radio 1050 will carry the radio broadcast of all eight pre-season games.
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