The big news of the day, which turns out to be nothing, really, was the absence of Jonas Gustavsson from practice. Ron Wilson addressed the situation, talked about the goaltending situation, Matt Stajan and hinted on lineup additions for tomorrow in the final day of training camp.
Practice and drills remained fairly similar to the types of drills from the previous days. Wilson seems focused on moving the puck from the top of the face off circle, quickly transitioning to offense. I think this also falls in line with the ability of the defense to make good first passes, as well as long stretch passes to the other teamâ€™s blueline, and the coach is practicing the routine to get it down pat .. there were in close 5-on-5 drills in the zone, as well as variations of 3-on-2â€™s.
Clearly though, The Monster stole the headlines after it was discovered a piece of his heart was misfiring and had an ablation (he even spelled it out for everyone) procedure performed.
â€œI think he’s had it done actually, and we don’t expect him to miss more than 48 hours,â€ said Wilson to the throng of media. “It has nothing to do with his heart. It’s actually just a little incision they make in the groin area that has to heal up. You don’t want an infection there.”
He went on to say that the procedure takes 10 minutes and it’s a matter of the incision healing – in a tender area for a goalie at that. It’s also a difficult condition to test for and only appears under certain situations that can’t be controlled by say, riding a stationary bike, and they were fortunate for the conditions on the ice to pinpoint it. Tests at training camp couldn’t pick it up due to the difficulty in pinpointing the area.
The Monster wasn’t going to play tomorrow night in the Coca Zero Fan First Game, with Wilson preferring to get to get his feet wet on the road.
In a radio interview on AM640, former Leafs Dr. Michael Clarfield explained the procedure and did a wonderful job explaining the situation.
Players starting tomorrow night will include Kadri, Bozak and some young players from the rookie camp that the Leafs considered prospects along with Colton Orr, Wayne Primeau, Jay Rosehill, Andre Deveaux, Phil Oreskovic, Jason Allison.
Questioned about the praise for Matt Stajan, Wilson replied, â€œStajan is in much better shape than he was last year. He’s stronger and he’s skating much better. I told him that.â€ The Leafs coach has been praising Stajan and using his possibility of locking down a second line pivot role to gauge Nazem Kadriâ€™s likelihood of sticking with the Buds beyond training camp.
â€œIt’s clearly evident he’s worked hard this summer.â€ He also reiterated the need for Allison to outplay one of Grabovski or Stajan to stick. I wouldnâ€™t be surprised to see him land with the Marlies.
Much has been made about the number one spot for the goaltenders. Wilson seemed to want Vesa Toskala to solidify the number one with a good camp.
â€œI hope Vesa is good enough this training camp to be the starter, but that’s up to Vesa,â€ he said. â€œIt could be any one of our goalies, whoever earns it. He’s the number one goalie right now but he has to perform better than last year.â€
Last year was full of secrecy and injury-filled play, clearly hampering the Finn until he was shut down at the trade deadline, a situation the coach would like to see improved with a healthy season.
“You do see him moving on the ice and he appears a lot more confident in his movements.” He didnâ€™t endorse Toskala as a guarantee to be the number one goalie to open the season, but it sounded like it was his job to lose. He made sure to put to bed the issues from the injuries and the secrecy about them, and give the Finn the opportunity to capture his role.
Another injury-riddled player from last season is still feeling the effect of a torn MCL and hasnâ€™t taken part in scrimmages, but has practiced with the club.
Mike Van Ryn is anticipating more this season and the coaching staff does as well. He had a full practice and isn’t playing in scrimmages. Expect around Monday for him to be back for a full practice and possible return to the lineup. Wilson also said he had a â€œsoft spotâ€ in his heart for him. The defesneman was talking to reporters and laughing it up in the dressing room after the scrimmage and generally talking about his newborn daughter, his first child, beaming like any new father would.
The main question asked to Wilson was actually asked first in the scrum. Are they ready?
â€œOh yeah, I think they’re ready,â€ said Wilson with authority. â€œWe’ve outlawed fisticuffs and there are guys itching to show us what they can do.â€
“I think we’re good and ready for some exhibition games.”
There are a slew of Leafs fans that echo that sentiment.