Training camp starts today for Leafs
BY:Jeff Schneberk @Game7overtime
If Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle was not fully aware of what the media following in Toronto especially at this time of year is all about, then he is sure as hell getting a real good glimpse of it right now.
He did win a Stanley Cup while head coaching in Anaheim, but Anaheim is not Toronto, especially in the world of the NHL.
As a Leafs supporter myself for the past 20 years or so, I am really looking forward to seeing the real reporters (aka the paid guys) come up with some other way to start off an online or newspaper story WITHOUT referring back to that fateful night in Boston, the travesty in beantown, or whatever else you want to call it.
The National Post just did it so I am going to find something else to think about.
When I look back at it, there has probably never been a season in years past when we the Leafs faithful have anticipated the start of a season more than we do now.
Like any other season, the questions for the coach come up BEFORE the game even starts. I used to think that reporter/coach interview sessions were best left for AFTER the game, as there is usually more to talk about then.
I think the Leafs brass, everyone from David Nonis right down to Randy Carlyle have to try and put that mess behind them.
“We’re not going to use that as a flashpoint,” added Carlyle. “Last year was last year and we can’t change what happened … hopefully this group can continue to grow.”
There is strangely enough more reasons than not to be optimistic about this season. This should be the first time that Toronto has not 1 but 2 recent Stanley Cup winners on their rosters (one will play, the other hopefully does not see a whole lot of time).
Technically one of the best parts about the Toronto Maple Leafs 2013 camp is that Nazem Kadri will skate today (most of us expected he would anyways but with contract talks nowadays, who knows?).
The interesting part of camp is the team’s situation on the defence. We all know that a big part of the Travesty in Beantown probably could have been avoided if Leafs had anything at all on defence that could have stopped the Bruins attack. God knows Dion Phaneuf couldn’t stop it if his life depended on it.
We do have last year’s first-round draft pick Morgan Reilly (Moose Jaw Warriors-WHL) in camp. I think he believes he deserves to be here, but given the hockey-may mad market in Toronto, it could be a bigger mountain for him to climb regardless of what Cody Franson winds up doing.
Franson is the only mystery piece of the Leafs puzzle. I sure as hell hope that they sign him. I hoped they would trade Phaneuf or something and use some of the money saved on re-signing Franson. I really think they need to get him under contract.
According to GapGeek.com, Leafs salary cap remaining was about $4.8M BEFORE they signed Kadri. What that leaves for Franson, who obviously deserves a piece of that just as much as Kadri.
Like any good coach in professional sports probably already knows, there is not much you can say about an unproven rookie (Reilly). Here is Carlyle’s take.
“He only played the one game in London at the prospects camp and he separated himself pretty quickly from a lot of players out there. Now this will be his first full camp. He had a week of camp last year, so now he has an opportunity to possibility play in eight exhibition games.
There is not even the slightest hint of what Carlyle sees in Reilly’s future.
What Carlyle did seem to hint at is that Reilly is the kind of player who needs to play steady minutes, as Carlyle puts it “12-15 minutes”.
“To have him in our lineup we don’t envision him playing sparing minutes. His minutes have to be somewhere in excess of 12 to 15 minutes. Does he have to play every game? No, I don’t think he has to play every game. But I think what he has to do is he has to show growth.”
And on the craziest thing to have happen to Toronto’s team probably since that travesty in beantown, the goaltender debate; if Carlyle honestly says that he did not see this coming back in June when Nonis brought in the Kings backup, he sure sees it now.
Also like any other good pro sports team coach, Carlyle opts for the optimistic view on the Leafs goal crease, which obviously got a little crowded back in June.
“The best goaltender is going to play. And if we have two [James Reimer and Jonathan Bernier] that are real good we’re better for it. Do we think one guy is going to take the ball and run with it? That’s always a nice way for things to develop, but again that’s up to the individuals and up to the way our team plays in front of them.
“When I made the statement that you win you’re in, it’s pretty simple. But again if you play three in four nights and your goaltender is 9-1 against the team that you’re about to play and he hasn’t played in those three games previous are you not going to go to him? That’s a decision you make on the fly, so there are variables that go into it. Again, we think it’s healthy to have competition … we think that’s a positive.”
What all of that should mean is that we know we have James Reimer and unless James Reimer royally screws up somehow, then James Reimer is probably going to be our #1 goalie all through the season. What Carlyle would also like to say is that he really hopes that Bernier will be able to play some quality back-up minutes God forbid something happens to Reimer in the pre-season, which brings me to the next point on the list…this weekend’s pre-season starter (game not goalie lol).
The Leafs pre-season starts on Sunday evening in the wonderful city of London. Toronto opens up with a 2-game set against the Daniel Briere-less Philadelphia Flyers. It will be the first of 3 pre-season games this coming week.
According to Carlyle, if you just have to know who just might make the team (Reilly), and who might not, you ,may want to tune in for the final three games of the pre-season (Ottawa/Detroit/Detroit) next week.
“With eight exhibition games, it gives you an opportunity to measure. We’re not going to play our veteran guys in all eight games. It’s as simple as that. That’s counterproductive. But I can guarantee you that in the last three games we’ll be looking to make the final decision on people and that will be as close to the final roster,” offers Carlyle.
In other stories developing today out of LeafLand is Joffrey Lupul had back problems before he even got on the ice.
Lupul is listed as day-to-day (bet you didn’t think you’d be hearing that term before the season even start, did you??!)
Nonetheless, it doesn’t look like Lupes will be playing this weekend (Sunday/Monday against the Flyers). It is noteworthy to keep in mind that this is the same player whose career was nearly sidelined permanently in 2009 when he needed repair work done on a herniated disc in his lower back. He developed an infection (for those who didn’t already know and spent nearly 12 months away from hockey.).
For the love of God let us hope that that does not happen again.
Carlyle did tell reporters that Lupul “did look extremely well coming into camp”.