It was fun to be back at the arena again to see all of the familiar faces and some of the new ones. The Leafs were split into two teams/practice squads (Team A and Team B, very creative) that took over the ice on the Leafs rink and the Marlies rink.
Maple Leafs Training Camp Roster 2013Latest Cuts: Stuart Percy, Andrew MacWilliam reassigned to Marlies.
|* Indicates rookie tournament attendee|
|34||James Reimer||G||45||Jonathan Bernier||G|
|3||Dion Phaneuf||D||12||Mason Raymond||F|
|11||Jay McClement||F||21||James van Riemsdyk||F|
|15||Paul Ranger||D||22||Joe Colborne||F|
|26||John-Michael Liles||D||23||Trevor Smith||F|
|38||Frazer McLaren||F||36||Carl Gunnarsson||D|
|41||Nikolai Kulemin||F||51||Jake Gardiner||D|
|43||Nazem Kadri||F||55||Korbinian Holzer||D|
It is a big task to try and watch any given player due to the sheer number (59 individuals at camp) of skaters, but I tried my best. I wanted to focus on the newest additions and the ones who were trying to make the team.
The practice started with drills and then progressed to an organized scrimmage that stopped the shift every 20 seconds (dictated by the irritating horn on the score clock). While I was trying to watch the new guys, it was very evident that Phil Kessel is absolutely flying. His puck skills (undressed Bozak at one point) were incredible and skating is second to very few in the NHL.
I am sure most of you want to know about Jonathan Bernier, Mason Raymond, and Paul Ranger. So without further rambling, here we go. Bernier was solid. His movements are incredibly poised and under control. During the second scrimmage, I am not sure he let in a goal the entire time he was on the ice. Up/Downs are so very quick, he makes it all look very effortless. Mason Raymond is a roadrunner on the ice. Absolutely one of the fastest guys on an already quick team (caveat: I said similar about Lombardi last camp). Onto Paul Ranger, who was simple and effective in what I saw, but certainly didn’t stand out in any real regard. That is a good thing in an NHL defenceman, and I cannot wait to see more from him tomorrow.
Team B, as they are known, didn’t have the same intensity and pace that Team A did. I’m not sure why; maybe they are less talented as a group or just young, but there was a noticeable drop off in play from rink to rink.
While the hockey was fast paced, it had a few solid hits today. The first one was Mark Fraser stepping into Bradley Ross just inside the blue line. Ross got up looking pissed but realized it was Fraser, and skated to the bench with a smile on his face. Good choice. Next up was a solid battle between David Clarkson and Kevin Marshall. It was behind the net along the boards, and I thought it just may escalate to a fight; sadly, it wasn’t to be. Finally, at the end of scrimmage, Carter Ashton stepped into Dion Phaneuf in the middle of the ice. Dion wasn’t pleased but just hopped back up and continued his shift.
I had a great chat with Paul Hendrick again today, who is always engaging. We got to talk hockey for a solid 20 minutes during one of the scrimmages. He has excellent insight to the team personnel and genuinely loves hockey. New favourite media members are Jonas Siegel and Caroline Cameron from SportsNet. I think even Big Daddy smiled in my general direction today. The security lady told me where the muffins and coffee were and to “help myself,” but I prefer the Dallas Eakins style with veggies and fruits.
Sorry if this has been a huge rambling run-on sentence. My mind is spinning at this point from all of that action crammed into three hours of fun.
Thanks for reading, and see you all tomorrow.