Patrick Marleau meets with the media after his first informal skate with the team, discussing Marleau’s fit in the lineup, Pierre McGuire and Darren Dreger on the state of the Leafs defence, and more in the links.
Marleau ‘a little jittery’ in first skate with Maple Leafs (TSN)
Patrick Marleau skated with the Maple Leafs for the first time and says he was a bit jittery skating with the guys, and was able to put some names to faces. The veteran forward says he is ‘going in blind’, not knowing who he will be paired up with.
On his first skate with the team:
It was the first time and I was a little bit jittery and all of that, but it was fun. It was great to get out there and skating with some guys and finally put some names to some faces and things like that. It’s a great bunch of guys.
On potentially lining up next to Auston Matthews:
With Auston, he can score goals. When you give him the puck, there’s a good chance it’ll end up in the back of the net. Playing with highly-skilled players is fun. You get to have the puck the majority of the time and you’re not chasing it. That’s when hockey is fun.
On which Leaf was the first to contact him after the signing:
I think it was Rielly. He welcomed me to the team and said he was glad to have me here. Anything that I needed, he was ready to help me out.
On the reasons for his decision to leave SJ for Toronto:
It was a combination of a lot of things – the way I look at this team, the way that management sees the team, the opportunity to play with some highly skilled players. I haven’t won a Cup and I’m still looking for it. I’d love to do it with these guys here.
On the importance of the third year of the contract:
I was looking for it. It was extremely important to me. I think it was something I was looking for from the start.
Jamie McLennan: It’s Auston Matthews’ team. It’s William Nylander’s. It’s Morgan Rielly’s. This group is already set from a leadership standpoint. But they did a good job bringing in Marleau, Hainsey, Dominic Moore — guys with experience. But it’s the guys who eat up the minutes that are going to be contributing not only on the ice but in the dressing room. Marleau can just show them away in some aspects because he’s been around the block. Make no mistake, the leadership group is led by Auston Matthews. Eventually, we’ll see a C on his jersey. He’s the captain of this team.
Dreger: No reason to think Maple Leafs were close on Thornton (TSN1050)
TSN Hockey insider Darren Dreger joins Naylor & Landsberg with guest host Steve Simmons to discuss the Maple Leafs off-season, if they were close to signing Joe Thornton, Jaromir Jagr’s search for a contract and why Auston Matthews missed an NHL media event in New York.
On how serious the Leafs‘ interest was in Thornton:
They were never close. I’m not convinced that there were any qualifiable discussions. Maybe some tire kicking; every organization goes through that, particularly when you’re looking at unrestricted free agents. Say what you want about Joe Thornton or Patrick Marleau, but man, do they still have game left. There is a bigger risk in Thornton given the knee injury he sustained and the significant rehabilitation that he’s had to go through to get to this point. I believe that the Toronto Maple Leafs were pretty much fixated on Marleau all along.
On whether the Leafs’ defence is competitive yet:
The jury is still out for me. I want to see it before I believe. We have good respect for the management and those who make decisions for the Toronto Maple Leafs. They just didn’t willy nilly look at the European players that were available to just give these guys a run. Mike Babcock had great faith in Zaitsev; he turned out to be a decent player with lots of potential in the upswing with Zaitsev. They must be looking at the other two they brought in with a similar sort of eye. The proof will be in the pudding. We need to see these guys compete at the NHL level before we make that determination. Maybe this year isn’t going to be good enough… They added some experience and added some question marks, but did they add enough to the core of the Maple Leafs blue line? I don’t know if they’ve done that yet.
On Roman Polak’s status:
I can’t say there isn’t a chance. No one from the Toronto Maple Leafs has mentioned that to me, but I haven’t asked specifically about him. I would be surprised if he returned. As for his status, it looks like his recovery process is ahead of schedule. That’s the way it looks. Again, I’d be surprised if the Leafs show interest unless they, too, face an injury or something kind of falls off the line here.
McGuire: Leafs could have a successful defence by committee (TSN1050)
TSN 1050 Hockey analyst Pierre McGuire joined Leafs Lunch with Andi Petrillo, Gord Miller and Mike Johnson to discuss whether the Leafs have the seven players needed to compete with the best in the NHL, Toronto’s defence core and what we can expect from Patrick Marleau.
On Connor Brown:
He’s a multi-dimensional weapon. You win championships with players like that. They don’t always have to be on your first line and they’re never going to be on your fourth line, but they’re going to find different ways to help you win every night, whether it’s a good backcheck, a shot block, a penalty kill, a timely goal, a good physical play or a burst of speed. Players like that are really hard to find, but he’s a guy who gives you a chance to win every night he’s in the lineup.
On whether Hainsey can be the shutdown D the Leafs need:
Part of why they got Ron Hainsey was for him to be that shutdown guy. Him and Brian Dumoulin were great in matchup situations the entire playoff. In fact, I think Dumoulin and Hainsey probably had their best game in the clinching game down in Nashville. They were both fantastic when they won the Cup that night. I think Ron could potentially be that shutdown guy. There is always going to be the question marks on the defencemen the Toronto Maple Leafs have, but I think they can find a way to get it done by committee on defence.
On Patrick Marleau:
I just finished talking to Martin Jones about Patrick Marleau, and one thing he said people don’t know about him is the way he interacts with his teammates and the fact that his motor can still go full bore. With this player, in particular, he’s never really sustained a massive injury before. One of the big things about Patty more than anything else is that his motor still runs at high octane.
Former Leaf and ‘Goon’ actor Orr content with post-playing life (Toronto Sun)
Orr and Parros had quite a history themselves, each suffering head injuries while wrestling during the bouts that were widely covered in their respective NHL cities. “We talked after the last incident,” Orr said. “We go back to the (AHL) fights when he was with Manchester and I was with Providence. We were both young bucks trying to prove ourselves.
Van Riemsdyk shakes off trade talk as Leafs gear up for season (Toronto Star)
“It’s a huge thing for us when you can add a player like him,” van Riemsdyk said. “We’re excited he wanted to join us. He saw what we’re building here and he wants to be a part of it. He’s a great player. What he’ll add as a guy that played a ton of games and has a ton of experience is really valuable for us. With the steps we took last year, we certainly showed what we’re capable of. The bar is raised a little bit and it’s up to us to respond to that challenge.”
This time, nobody’s doubting Kadri’s role with Maple Leafs (Toronto Sun)
“On the ice (Matthews and his ilk) are pretty talented and I thought I might be able to help him out with a couple of areas defensively. (Off ice), I just know how things go, I know how this city works, what to look out for. “I want to take another step and evolve in the same direction the team is going.”
Agent for Matt Duchene non-committal on him reporting to Avs camp (BSN)
On Tuesday afternoon, I sent an email and a text to the agent of Matt Duchene. His name is Pat Brisson, and he works out of Beverly Hills, Calif. “If there is no trade of (Duchene) by the start of camp, is it his intention to report to camp on time?” was the question I asked for BSN Denver. At 1:12 a.m., probably an hour after I’d gone to sleep, an email came back. “I don’t have much to say at this point,” was Brisson’s reply.