Training Camp 2013 – Day #2, Live from the MasterCard Center of Excellence

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Photo: Maple Leafs Hot Stove.com

As we filed into the arena today, it was mentioned that Lupul would be out again (back spasms) and that Phil Kessel would be returning home for a funeral for the passing of his Grandfather. Other absentees were Matt Finn and Colton Orr (leg bruise, one week).

I was standing solo and Paul Hendrick came over to me saying, “I hear that you wrote nice things about me yesterday in your article… thanks Corey.” We shared some laughs, mostly at my expense, and he carried on. Right after he left, Jonas Siegel stopped for a chat and mentioned, “I heard you were in London for the Rookie games but I didn’t get to see you…” I assume that he meant members of MLHS staff were there reporting. The positive to this is that members of the mainstream media are recognizing Alec’s and Declan’s hard work with the Maple Leafs Hot Stove website. Times are changing with how sports are being covered and I believe MLHS can provide the fans with something that the MSM cannot.

Onto the practice

Today, Team B took to the ice first. There were lots of drills and lap skating that took place on the main sheet of ice. One of the drills was a one on one drill in speed skating. Both players would skate through three pylons and then race to centre ice for a puck and continue in on the goalie. Mason Raymond, as you can imagine, did just fine in this department, but there one was glaring surprise. This shocker was also noticed by Jeff O’Neill, who mentioned it on the radio during their show on TSN Radio. Joe Colborne cleanly beat Jake Gardiner when they went head to head! Yeah, the 6’5″ deer on ice has gained at least a step on the ice this season. Is this going to be a regular occurrence that he beats guys in a foot race? Probably not, but it is indicative of how much time he has spent working on his foot speed.

While the ice was being flooded for scrimmage, I went over to the Marlies rink to watch Team A getting put through their paces. Not much of interest on that ice surface, but it is great to see the regulars and how much pace they have. It’s just a stride or two quicker than the younger AHL/Junior players, but it is impressive. It seems we are well taken care of with the team speed, on our blueline especially. We have plenty of very agile, quick players. Even the stay-at-home D are faster that previous generations of Leafs, and for that I am thankful.

Scrimmage Time

Things started off slow. Randy Carlyle was up in the “crowd” watching from his usual viewing point. Two shifts into it, his assistant (couldn’t see who) stopped the practice and proceeded to read the riot act to the players on Team B. He was PISSED at the intensity and berated them for a solid 30 seconds (trust me, that is eternity if you are being yelled at). The pace picked up after play resumed and certain players stood out. Morgan Rielly, Jake Gardiner and Petter Granberg all had a solid session. Rielly and Gardiner are so smooth on the ice it is hard to describe, but their puck handling and passing are just as impressive to watch. Granberg played 2-on-1 and 1-on-1 situations absolutely perfectly and seems to be gaining confidence by the shift. Raymond was also part of this group and showed that his speed is NHL calibre, but I am not so sure about his desire to get involved in the physical battles. It was at this part of the day that Carlyle said to me, “you better cover your ears or move because I am going to blow this whistle a lot.” He was the time clock version of the horn from yesterday. I believe everybody realized that was irritating, and I chose to move.

Scrimmage #2

Team A took to the ice after a fresh flood and I had a feeling the intensity was going to be ramped up. I was right, because scrimmage 2 bore witness to more hitting and the passing/skating was a level higher. I understand why some players might, but it’s nice to see nobody really coasting (Tim Connolly, yes I still remember you). During this session, there were continued battles between Ashton and Dion. Ashton was actually all over the ice and hits pretty much whomever he thinks he should. He looks faster and controls the puck well. He’s a surprise so far for me in camp. Gauthier made a very nice play on Nazem Kadri; when Kadri felt like he could dangle just inside the blueline, Frederik calmly stayed in position and then separated Naz from the puck. Textbook defensive coverage.

Paul Ranger continued his strong play from a positional point of view. He doesn’t do anything too flashy, but did play a 2 on 1 very well after Trevor Murphy made a poor pinch at the blue line to try and keep a puck in. Ranger will grow on fans if given a chance. Immediately after some more physical play, Dion Phaneuf really caught Carter Ashton at centre ice. Knocked him ass over tea kettle and reminded the youngster to be careful who you mess with. The Captain has a long memory. (Side note: After the scrimmage and stretching, Dion went right over to Ashton, asked him if he was okay, and tapped him on the shin pads before skating off… Class act).

Times like this make me smile as a fan. Darryl Sittler was talking to Carlyle right beside me. Two of my favourite Leafers from the past right there smiling and laughing. Does it get better? Yes, only because they talked for so long that Carlyle forgot to blow to the whistle to signal the end of the shift. The guys on the ice were dying. Finally, Clarkson just dumped the puck in and everybody stopped skating. Carlyle realized his mistake and kind of laughed at the players. Nobody was pissed, but it was one of those human moments we don’t get to see often at Camp.

The scrimmage ended and players filtered off the rink for another 1.5 hrs of “off-ice workouts” before calling it quits today. I am sure there will be a ton of interviews posted by TSN, Leafs TV and Sportsnet. There are so many awesome potential story lines from this Camp. I see this team as a fast, rugged, tough group with the ability to score in bunches. The young standouts looking for a spot on the big club blueline are Rielly, Gardiner, Blacker and Granberg. I believe any of them can make an NHL Team (if not ours) in the very near future; of course, that is if you haven’t already pencilled Jake Gardiner into the line-up based on his play from last years series with the Bruins.

That is it from the MCC for Day #2 (Day #3 if you included medicals, which I don’t). Hope you enjoyed following along with my tweets today and if you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask.

  • MollySweats

    Colborne has wheels now? oh snap thanks Barb!

  • dlb eh

    i Phooken love it

  • MollySweats

    Wonder what the line-up for Sunday’s game against the flyers is gonna look like? Most likely a bunch of rookies and outsiders for the first few games, then the established guys for the last 3-4 games?

  • rustynail

    absolutely stellar write up phook !!!!!!!!!

  • rustynail

    FrycersGhost they have oodles

  • mlclearwater

    Nice work man, great reads

  • mlclearwater

    TheCanucksnaphook rustynail FrycersGhost ask reilly

  • Jmessih

    TheCanucksnaphook Sucks for Finn to be honest, I was hoping he would heal up in time for some from pre season. But if he wont heal then I guess no worries.

  • The_Polish_Cannon

    Great work Phook !

  • MollySweats

    TheCanucksnaphook MollySweats yeah I’m hoping for a nice balance…just saw your post about the cuts being made…I’m glad the guys who have no chance at making this years team aren’t gonna take up roster spots in the pre-season…hopefully Reilly gets a shot with some legit NHL’s…and hopefully they pair him with Gards for at least a game or so…the other team will feel like their bag skating trying to keep up with those two!

  • mlclearwater

    Jmessih TheCanucksnaphook hopefully he can get a full dominant season in junior and JWC, than a little time with the marlies

  • Burtonboy

    Good stuff Phook. Thoroughly enjoyed your write up.  How much more of this will you be doing? #gottabetough

  • TheGroobster

    http://mapleleafs.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=682455 Leafs trim roster

  • Jiggy

    You have to think that the value of Franson to this organization is declining on a day by day basis with our abundance of ready, near ready and up and coming defensemen.  I love Franson but we only have so many roster spots and I feel our blueline has more than enough mobile, offensively talented defensemen and needs to be more rounded out with a bit of sand paper, crease clearing threats.  If Franson could be flipped for a pick or prospect to add to our pool, specifically down the middle, I think it would make us a better team in the future without making us worse today.

  • mcloki

    Great Job Phook. Nice to see teh respect you’re getting. And you’re earning t.

  • mcloki

    @Jiggy Franson should be in camp. And this needs to be resolved before the Leafs get into too many more cuts.

  • Burtonboy

    TheCanucksnaphook Burtonboy No pressure from me man . You do have a life and I assume a job lol

  • Jmessih

    mlclearwater Jmessih TheCanucksnaphook fingers crossed he has the potential for all!!

  • Xxxxxnew

    They’re at $51 million in salary with 23 players signed.

  • mcloki

    TheCanucksnaphook mcloki Oh go on. You’re part of it. both in your on site reporting and commenting. Half this site is the really good group of commenters  that  make this the great place it is. You know who you are.

  • Burtonboy

    TheCanucksnaphook Burtonboy Drinks on me man if we ever meet up sometime

  • Xxxxxnew

    I was wondering about Raymond’s style of play because I haven’t really s seen him much. I found this on a Canucks site where they wrote about why he didn’t get picked up as a UFA, and were analyzing his .5 points per game average and his toughness.
    “Mason Raymond is a good hockey player. At 6′ and 185 pounds he’s mostly a skill player, but the Cochrane Alberta farm boy plays tough. He goes to the dirty areas generally. He isn’t afraid. He’s actually one tough son of a gun given that he got piledriven into the boards in the 2011 Finals and suffered a fractured vertebrae, came back to play hockey and played arguably like he always had: uber speed, skill and determination.
    He achieved those stats over the past 3 years mostly playing high-end bottom 6 minutes. Like I said before…give him top 6 minutes on one of your top 2 lines and he should thrive. Just like Michael Grabner. It can happen in a new environment. Heck, I believe the Canucks’ second line for the majority of 2009-10 was Raymond – Kesler – Samuelsson, was it not? It was gold. So, his versatility should also be mentioned because he played against other teams’ top players on that line and still put up a whack of points. He can play a 2-way game as well.
    So…yeah…I am still surprised that no team has signed him yet. This post is me saying thanks to a Canuck who played with heart and guts in his tenure here and giving the guy more props than what he is getting, in general.

  • skiingallday

    mapleleafs.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=682455&navid=DL|TOR|home

  • skiingallday

    Leafs send a few players packing. Not a lot of surprises there, other than maybe Finn and Matt Rupert

  • Xxxxxnew

    Finn”s injured tho.

  • MollySweats

    I’m hoping Raymond pans out and we can find a way to sign him for dirt cheap…but I’m afraid of putting him on the 3rd line as a grinder because he’s more of a skill guy but there’s no room in our top 6…I get that he’s fast but remember when speedster Lombardi was on our 3rd line? that was a fucking disaster…it sounds like Mason has more grit than that but still, I don’t think that’s the right role for him…BTW nice write up Phook

  • Jmessih

    Xxxxxnew Makes me think injury is worse than a couple weeks

  • dlb eh

    Xxxxxnew 
    a week ago i knew Raymond as a fast player who scored 25 goals.
    then i searched “Mason Raymond hits” and saw mostly him getting wrecked
    then Anthony mentioned he could kill penalties
    then Mason, in an interview, mentioned he played a two-way game
    now you say he plays “determined”
    i’ve lost the fear of him making the club to the detriment of the club, and hope he makes it even though i like Ashton and lots have high hopes for D’Amigo.

  • Alec Brownscombe

    So the team is still giving looks to Raine and Yuen, eh?

  • dlb eh

    hey Declan/Alec
    i kinda want the Leafs blue to go back to what it was.  the autoupdater thing in the bottom right is tough to see now…know what i mean?

  • Mind Bomb

    Alec Brownscombe Yuen looked ok Live Alec, Raine I was iffy on TBH

  • Dan39

    Alec Brownscombe Interesting, Yuen looked awesome in the rookie tourney. He has to go back to junior I guess? He looks young

  • dlb eh

    FrycersGhost 
    not sure that’s a first round pick they’d like to lose

  • dlb eh

    TheCanucksnaphook dlb eh 
    there’s only one thing i need you to do well…report

  • Dan39

    dlb eh Xxxxxnew D’Amigo is 215 lbs or something crazy like that. You see a man who is 215 lbs and 5’10” maybe (?) might even be shorter and that’s a solid guy. He can skate like the wind too, one of the fastest Marlies. I’d rather have that than some featherweight who glides around and doesn’t hit anyone.

  • mcloki

    Jmessih Xxxxxnew Or you can’t evaluate an injured player. The leafs still have to cut 27 more players.

  • rustynail

    dlb eh Xxxxxnew is that determined compared to a Canuck though :)

  • theacs1966

    Dan39 Alec Brownscombe I think he has to turn pro this year.  At best he’d go back as an overager.

  • dlb eh

    Dan39 dlb eh Xxxxxnew 
    i’d love the guy you describe too.  D’Amigo isn’t that to me yet.  he could use more time on the Marlies to become more.
    he’s a rat, not a banger.  he’ll dive more than he’ll battle through checks.  i want him to change his game before i annoint him anything.
    goal scoring, timely goal scoring…i look forward to seeing that from him on day when he’s ready.  first, be a lyoung eader on the Marlies along with Ashton.
    if Raymond earns a spot, i’m happy to see us develop some kids a little longer.  maintain competition.

  • MollySweats

    TheCanucksnaphook I’m guessing a lot of teams brought smaller numbers in because they don’t have high tech training facilities with multiple ice surfaces like the MasterCard centre..

  • dlb eh

    rustynail dlb eh Xxxxxnew 
    lol, i never thought of that.  and too late to edit.

  • rustynail

    TheCanucksnaphook NJ had over 50 in camp

  • dlb eh

    Alec Brownscombe 
    both appeared to be good enough to warrant a look for a Marlies 5-7th d imo

  • skiingallday

    TheCanucksnaphook MollySweats Phoenix had 57 or 58 I remember that from reading an article about Ekman-Larsson not being able to report since he didn’t have his papers in order

  • Xxxxxnew

    I have no realmimage of Raymond as a player at all, and because of that I wanted to get a take on Him from people who have actually watched him play live over the years, and not from a distance in Toronto. So I searched multiple sites and found the discussion out West was mainly surprise that he hadn’t been picked up as a UFA. This write up was the best representation of all the comments I was seeing.

  • MollySweats

    skiingallday TheCanucksnaphook MollySweats 
    also, taking into account the fact that there was no training camp last year, coaches are seeing players from last years draft and this years draft for the first time, so I guess they wanted to pretty much invite everybody they could

  • colino17

    skiingallday TheCanucksnaphook MollySweats More players than fans…lol

  • Burtonboy

    https://twitter.com/SnowdenNHL
    https://twitter.com/search?q=%23Blues&src=hash have re-signed Alex Pietrangelo to a 7 year deal. https://twitter.com/search?q=%23NHL&src=hash

  • Xxxxxnew

    He turned 20 last march so I believe he can play in the AHL.

  • MollySweats

    Burtonboy wow that escalated quickly