Maple Leafs Training Camp: Day One On Ice


Bring On Training Camp!

The Toronto Maple Leafs held their on-ice portion of training camp today. Players have been split into three squads to accommodate the 63 players invited to camp.

Among the contingent of fans outside the ice surface at the MasterCard Centre for Hockey Excellence was a throng of media and of course, Leafs staff.

Before discussing what went down today, the Leafs squads are:

Team Armstrong (A)

2Luke Schenn49Danny Richomond
11Fredrik Sjostrom56Dale Mitchell
16Clarke MacArthur59Keith Aulie
18Mike Brown62Jesse Blacker
23Brett Lebda64Richard Greenop
26Mike Zigomanis70Sam Carrick
28Colton Orr72Andrew Engelage
35J.S. Giguere73Josh Nicholls
36Carl Gunnarsson83Andrew Crescenzi
37Tim Brent84Mikhail Grabovski
45Marcel Mueller  

Team Kennedy (B)

4Jeff Finger47Darryl Boyce
8Mike Komisarek48Ryan Hamilton
9Colby Armstrong50Jonas Gustavsson
15Tomas Kaberle51Josh Engel
20Christian Hanson52Greg Scott
29Matt Lashoff65Brad Ross
30Ben Scrivens66Barron Smith
32Kris Versteeg67Jamie Devane
43Nazem Kadri68Ken Ryan
44Brayden Irwin74Jerome Flaake
46Joey Crabb  

Team Sittler (C)

3Dion Phaneuf54Juraj Mikus
22Francois Beauchemin55Korbinian Holzer
33Luca Caputi57Robert Slaney
34James Reimer58Simon Gysbers
38Jay Rosehill63Mikhail Stefanovich
39John Mitchell69Greg McKegg
40Jussi Rynnas71Jerry D’Amigo
41Nik Kulemin77Justin Hodgman
42Tyler Bozak81Phil Kessel
53Alex Foster  


The day started with Teams A and C hitting the ice first for practice before a scrimmage.

The warm up features instantaneous pucks hitting the glass and iron as soon as the players hit the ice .. Coach Ron Wilson entered the rink after a light skate from all the players on the ice and got them to skate clockwise around the rink with “long strides between the blue line.” He shortly after asked for “full speed between the (blue) lines.”

— Whistle; players gathered at center ice, where Colton Orr put them through a stretching session.
— Wilson instructed the players on the first drill: Puck was sent into the corner with a defenseman recovering for an easy breakout play to start. Breakout featured a center getting down deep, to the top of the crease and curling back out
— the variation on the drill had the first defenseman retrieving the puck, reversing to defensive partner befor a pass up to the curling center for the breakout of the zone (passes were to catch the center coming out of the curl in the zone and heading back North)
–Second drill featured with a puck on the boards with a winger .. winger passes the puck to a defenseman on the opposite blueline, in the middle of the rink .. defenseman passes the puck back to the winger at the red line who then breaks in for a shot on goal
— the variation, winger gets the first pass to the defenseman, gets it back and then make another pass to the defenseman, curls to the other side of the rink for the second pass back before streaking in for a shot on goal (a little discouraging to see so many incomplete passes, both because of the defensemen’s passes and the forwards missing the returns)
— next drill added a winger on the flank side, that got the second pass from the defender
— a lap after the drill was completed, with Wilson telling players to ‘GET SOME WATER’
— Drill: Players were lined up against the boards just inside the blueline: play starts at the opposite blueline where a puck is shot in while a breakout starts after a the dump in with a defenseman retrieving it in the corner .. the line would breakout , send a pass to an opposite blueliner and curl tight in the neutral zone around the red line to break back the other way
— variation had a defenseman jumping into the rush with the forward unit making it a four-on-one
— One lap and “WATER!!”
— Drill: Pucks are set up at the top of the faceoff circle in one zone .. a puck is thrown into the corner with a line battling down low to create a scoring chance against a defensive pairing and a forward .. the drill simulates a down-low cycle and moving the puck in the corner and keeping it under the top of the face off circle
— Drill: Crew gathered just inside the blueline .. a line unit is set up on the opposite blueline and a puck is sent into the corner where two coaches are stationary (one in each corner) .. lines go in for a forecheck for puck retrieval and turnover creation .. defensive pairing supports the puck (the point is to simulate hurrying the opposition defensemen into creating a turnover and capitalizing)
— the winger follows the puck side and covers the boards forcing the outlet into the middle where the opposite winger closes the gap and capitalizes on the turned over puck
— “WATER!!”
— Wilson draws up the next drill with players gathered in front of the board at center .. DRILL: puck is at center, coach throws it into the zone and a line unit breaks out .. they turn it over to a second defensive pairing and the line does the transition curl at the red line to go back in the other way .. variation has the center curling into the zone and breaking out behind the wingers .. line breaks in on a 3-on-2 opportunity that ends with a shot on goal
— The skate ends with more stretching at center ice.




BLUE (Team C)
16-84-73 36-2
18-37-28 49-23
26-45-56 36-62

WHITE (Team A)
41-42-81 22-3
71-39-33 54-58
38-53-63 82-55

After a flood, Teams A and C squared off in a scrimmage. These are notes and observations on the scrimmage itself.

Caputi has added more length to his stride and seems stronger pushing off from stationary positions .. I realize this is training camp, but I saw Caputi curl away from players where some physical contact would be prefered by coaching staff .. Caputi made too many attempts at stick checks and hurrying the play without physicality .. a burgeoning power forward has to be able to play with force .. Bozak seemed more physical early on, but started getting away from puck battles and body contact towards the end of the scrimmage .. Grabovski (aside from scoring off a laser beam in a simulated shootout) displayed a lot of the same type of individualistic effort that is great when it works, and a turnover when it doesn’t .. undersized Brett Lebda played a lot, but has to make harder, crisper passes .. he’s very vocal on the sheet ordering partners around .. weaves through traffic rushing the puck, but missed out on outlets all scrimmage long, trying to skate it out instead of moving the puck .. Clarke MacArthur lines up behind the pivot taking a face off (shows that he can fire the puck, especially off a one-timer)

Centers were being rotated throughout the four lines .. Stefanovich didn’t distinguish himself at all in camp .. he has to get better stick prep entering the zone, as he holds it at his waist (Kulemin does this too, but not as frequently) .. Stefanovich did show off an ability to backcheck, but hey, this is training camp .. Caputi seemed to gain confidence in carrying the puck and rushed it often – he should be finding an outlet instead at times .. Greg McKegg showed a good nose for driving to the net, but also lagged the play all scrimmage .. resorted to perimeter when there wasn’t a play .. he’s clearly in need of some more OHL time .. Gunnarrson seems to give up too much space for rushing forwards, trying to back skate instead of cutting space .. needs more active stick .. all the passing practice last season paid off as his passes clearly had added zip and crispness, tape-to-tape .. Bozak made a good example of separating the man from the puck without levelling a huge hit .. Danny Richmond has to be stronger on the puck, easily moved .. Phaneuf pinched sporadically except for some late scrimmage attempts .. he patrolled the blueline and liked the physicality of his teammates .. Marcel Mueller displayed a lot of hockey sense, and positional strength but has to improve his puck handling ability and strength on the puck .. Mike Brown had his man in his sights, and let up … its training camp.

Rink was flooded.

Jay Rosehill took exception to a stick check and more physical contact with Michael Liambas and finally squared off at center ice with the smaller opponent .. MacArthur lacks a mean streak and physical edge .. Lebda doesn’t use his body well enough, boxed out against bigger opponents .. he also telegraphs his intentions with head movements .. Jerry D’Amigo skates himself into dead ends and will run out of creativity in the offensive zone without support .. he has to focus, is he a top-6 or bottom-6 guy, pick one and develop .. could use at least one season in the OHL .. Caputi still missing open space grit and letting up on hits .. FINISH YOUR CHECKS .. he’ll also skate behind other players lanes and supports, but doesn’t become an outlet enough .. McKegg has to develop first two-step quickness .. MacArthur has a wide skating stride, balanced

After the scrimmage, players were put through skating drills, focused on pivots and quick, tight turns

three groups gathered, one in each zone, while each player weaved through predetermined lines across the width of the ice, focusing on crossovers and quick turns. The simulation helped to solidify the type of transition game the coaching staff wants to attain, and the skating needed to pull it off quick.

A second drill had the squads split in two and placed in front of the goalies. Each player started from the slot, and skated in a sine wave pattern along the goal line to the area around the face off dot, all the way towards the boards and came back back to the gathered crowd in front (found MacArthur struggled with this aspect of the drills) .. the drills ended with full speed bursts around the rink.

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