A few quick notes and some links for your hump day morning.

– Interesting to hear, via the observations of MLHS rinkside reporter canucksnaphook, about the focus on one-on-one battles, “compete” level, and the overall intensity of practices. This is what Randy Carlyle has been referring to when he says players will be pushed to do things unnatural to them. The roster isn’t exactly optimally suited to Carlyle hockey but he wants more physical engagement in all three zones and a concerted group effort from all of his players in this regard. He noted that there was more compete and focus on winning one-on-one battles during this camp than the end of last season combined. Video in the sidebar or go to the video page directly. It should be interesting to see who responds well and who not-so-much.

– While he hasn’t been completely ruled out, Jake Gardiner sounds almost definitely out for Saturday. He’s done only light skating as he recovers from concussion. Participation question this morning: who dresses on the blueline for opening night, then? Outside of Phaneuf, Gunnarsson, Liles, Komisarek, Franson, pick from Holzer, Kostka or maybe even Rielly.

– I suppose Gardiner’s possible missed time to start the season could open up the opportunity for a five-game taste of NHL action for Rielly if he keeps up the impressive showings in camp. I don’t think I will receive much opposition in suggesting Rielly will have to be absolutely lights out, and I mean lights out, to justify staying any longer than that. Even if Moose Jaw isn’t the most appealing situation to return to, they will miss the playoffs and there will be an opportunity to join the Marlies for their playoff bid – the logical next step in his development. The added layer of Rielly burning a year of his entry level contract to play 48 games in what could be a tough 2013 season in Leafland swings the argument heavily toward the “con” side of keeping Rielly.

– It’s nothing but promising to hear Rielly receive positive reviews as an 18-year-old sharing the ice with NHLers, even if it’s “just camp.” It has by all intents and purposes been a great year of development so far in Rielly’s +1 season between solid numbers in the WHL on an awful team, a good showing for Team Canada among an otherwise suspect defense group, and now he’s leaving a good impression on coach Carlyle and the staff. With lots of bodies around on the backend, there’s no use in risking the confidence level unless Rielly gives Carlyle no choice but to reward him with a few games in the pros (hard to do just from practices, with no preseason appearances).

– Fortunately James van Riemsdyk will not miss an extended period after taking a shot off the foot from Komisarek in practice (only bruised), but so many games packed into the upcoming weeks after a short camp assure injuries and fatigue will be a factor. Having one of the best teams in the AHL operating out of the same city should be a slight advantage for the Leafs here.

Wednesday Morning Links…

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Alec Brownscombe is the founder and editor of, where he has written daily about the Leafs since September of 2008. He's published five magazines on the team entitled "The Maple Leafs Annual" with distribution in Chapters and newsstands across the country. He also co-hosted "The Battle of the Atlantic," a weekly show on TSN1200 that covered the Leafs and the NHL in-depth. Alec is a graduate of Trent University and Algonquin College with his diploma in Journalism. In 2014, he was awarded Canada's Best Hockey Blogger honours by Molson Canadian. You can contact him at