Bob McKenzie discusses the odds of the Maple Leafs moving one of pending UFAs Tyler Bozak or JVR, Jake Gardiner discusses his partnership with Nikita Zaitsev and working with assistant coach DJ Smith, Leafs valued at $1.2 billion by Forbes, and more in the links.
Leafs’ sluggish starts a mystery to Jake Gardiner too (Sportsnet 590)
Jake Gardiner joined Hockey Central @ Noon on Tuesday to discuss, among other things, the team’s slow starts, his pre-game rituals, and the young talent on the team.
Gardiner — known as “Silver” as a rookie because he played with the poise of a vet — on who is the “Silver” on the current Leafs:
We’ve got four or five “Silvers” on our team. They’re all veterans. They’re all good. They’re some of our best players, if not the best players on our team.
Gardiner on explaining the slow starts:
We haven’t pre-game skated a few times. We thought maybe that was it. And then, like you said, we had a slow start in Vancouver. I don’t know what it is but I think Freddy has had to bail us out a number of times now. That’s not going to keep up if we want to win hockey games down the long haul. We’ve got to figure it out.
Gardiner on what he can do individually to start games better:
Really, it’s just making smart, simple, easy plays right away. If the puck is not bouncing my way that night, it is tough to get going early. If that’s the case, try to make simple plays early and try to get a feel for the game early.
Gardiner on what made him so good on his edges:
We played pond hockey every single day at home. My dad made a rink in the backyard. You’re never stopping in pond hockey. You’re always moving. You probably get some bad habits, but you also get to work on your edge work at all times out there. It’s a credit to that.
McKenzie: I don’t believe the Leafs are looking to shop pending UFAs (TSN1050)
Bob McKenzie joins Leafs Lunch to discuss which Leaf legend the current Leafs could most use, the likelihood of JVR and Bozak getting traded, and more.
On the odds of the team trading JVR or Bozak:
I think they’re always open-minded to what might be out there, but the better the team does, the less likely — in my mind – they’re going to trade one of their pending UFAs in Bozak, van Riemsdyk or Komarov. [It’s more likely] that they’ll keep them and be the best team they possibly can be and go as far and as deep into the playoffs as they can with this group.
Now, that said, if the right player becomes available and the other team is saying, “We want Tyler Bozak or James van Riemsdyk,” then I guess they have to contemplate that. But that’s just such a discretionary thing; not a policy or philosophical thing. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again now: I don’t believe the Leafs have an appetite to wake up in the morning and say, “which of our guys can we trade today? Which of van Riemsdyk or Bozak can we move on today?” I don’t think they’re looking for that. If someone else comes to them with something, then obviously they’ll consider it. If it makes sense, they’ll do it, and if it doesn’t, they won’t.
On the team’s play and the partnership with Nikita Zaitsev:
I think Zaits and I weren’t really clicking at the beginning of the year, but I think we’re back on track. As a team, we’re playing better. Freddy is playing unbelievable. We’ve got the systems down now, and everyone is on the same page.
It’s just tendencies. Is Z going to go D-to-D here? Is he going to shoot? Is he going to reverse the puck? You get used to certain plays, and just the chemistry kind of gets there, whether it’s a line rush or breaking the puck out. The more you play with someone, the more comfortable you’re going to be.
On the pace of the modern game and lining up against Connor McDavid the other night:
Playing against Connor McDavid the other day, you feel like a snail out there compared to that guy. You’ve got to be smart, too. It is very, very speedy this league now. Especially playing against guys like that, you’ve got to be right up in their face.
It’s his hands at the speed he’s skating at. It doesn’t make sense.
On working with assistance coach DJ Smith:
He coaches personalities. He doesn’t just coach players. He knows exactly what guys need. If a certain guy is inside his own end or if it’s someone that needs him to snap on them once in a while, he knows that. He finds the positives in players and what makes them better. I think that is a huge asset that he brings.
‘Maybe I’ll be the cool dad now’: Marleau a hit with young Maple Leafs (Toronto Sun)
“We played a bit of euchre and then poker once,” Matthews said. “He took us for all our money. We played Old Maid (at first) because I only knew simple card games.” Marleau, who grew up playing cards in Saskatchewan, especially on long junior bus rides, confirmed his profit at the expense of the table of rookies. “I took them down,” he laughed. “But they were into it. They wanted to play on their phones, but we got away from it.”
As SickKids prepares to rebuild, the Leafs join the fight (The Athletic)
Ron MacLean: “SickKids and the Leafs, they’re both true blue. Terry Fox looked up to Darryl Sittler for that very reason: that he was just a great booster of the hospital. Conn Smythe, the people who built the Gardens on a miracle at the height of the depression, somehow SickKids in ’49 seemed similarly unbelievable at the end of World War II. For 100 years the Leafs have been visiting SickKids. We all bleed a little blue and acknowledge how special the Leafs are to SickKids.”
The Business Of Hockey: Leafs 2nd most valuable NHL franchise (Forbes)
With a 27% year value change, the Maple Leafs come in second in the NHL on Forbes’ list with a $1.2 billion valuation. Their revenue is listed at 211 million, their operating income 76 million. The average NHL team is now worth $594 million, up 15 per cent from a year ago.
High-scoring Maple Leafs still have some housekeeping issues (Toronto Sun)
“Auston’s been doing really well defensively, something he didn’t get much credit for in his first year,” Hyman said Tuesday after Leafs practice at the MasterCard Centre. “He’s starting to get recognized now. A lot of the times (on the road) we get matched up against one of the top offensive lines and he does a great job, which you have to do at both ends as centre.”
Leafs’ Tyler Bozak hopes he has the stomach to bounce back (Toronto Star)
Bozak missed Saturday’s game in Vancouver with what he described as a bout of food poisoning contracted Friday that also kept him out of practice Monday. “Quite a bad case, actually. Throwing up for a few days. Thought I was over it (Monday), came to the rink and when I got here started throwing up again. So went back home,” Bozak said. “I can’t pinpoint exactly what it was. But hopefully I don’t eat that ever again.”
Babcock: “We are fortunate that our defense helps us generate offense” (MLHS)
I always tell Jacques [Lemaire]: When I was in the first year in Anaheim, I went into Minny and I thought we were all ready to go. I watched his morning skate and how fast everything was and compared it to my morning skate and I was like, “Are you kidding me here? We’re in a different league.” I remember sneaking into his practice. Jacques would stop practice if he saw you. So I snuck in and hid behind a pole and learned something. So I call a drill we do, “Jacques Lemaire forecheck drill.” He says, “I never did that drill.” I said, “I stole it.” And he said, “Well, you changed it then.”