Carolina Hurricanes at Toronto Maple Leafs
Photo: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

The players gathered for the Leafs Charity Golf Classic ahead of the start of training camp on Monday, with William Nylander absent as the contract watch continues.

Leafs Links

Leafs and Legends Charity Golf Classic: John Tavares (TML YouTube)
John Tavares met with the media at the rained-out Leafs Charity Golf Classic on Monday.

On skating with Mitch Marner before camp:

We’ve been on the ice a couple of times together. It’s just his energy — he is an energizer bunny out there. It’s infectious being on the ice. Obviously, his speed and his quickness, and there is no question how he thinks the game and the way he can make plays is special. The energy he brings out there is impressive.

Tavares on what impresses him about Kyle Dubas:

I just think, for a guy of his age — obviously, a lot of people look at that — just the belief he has in himself. I don’t think it’s an over-confidence. I think it’s just the way he kind of goes about it and carries himself and his ability to have his vision and how he believes things should be done, built and managed here. It’s also communicating that with people around him. When I went through the free agency process with him, that was very impressive — the way he delivers what he believes in and how he is going to go about that and how he can get everyone on the same page.

Tavares on his amount of communication with Mike Babcock so far:

A fair amount. Through the process in free agency, we’ve talked a few times, and he’s been around the rink the last couple of weeks. I don’t think it’s just me. Whether it’s the other new guys, or just guys he wants to kind of catch up with, he’s just getting familiar with certain things he’s looking for from me and the way he wants the team to play, the way he wants the team to play, and how I can fit in with certain nuances. I’m just trying to get comfortable as quickly as I can.

Tavares on William Nylander’s outstanding contract situation a few days away from camp:

Willy is obviously a big part of the team and a big part of the future. This has been kind of proven in the past. Guys in this situation, it always seems to come down to the wire a little bit. We believe we’re going to have Willy here to start camp. He’s an important part of the team and I got to skate with him and see him in July. I know he was really excited about things ahead and being a part of this group. Hopefully it can get done very soon and we get him in and build up the team.

Tavares on what it’s been like going out around the city since he signed with the Leafs:

Things have been great. I’ve been able to just be myself and live my normal daily life. That was a big thing for me. I didn’t really want to change the way I live and who I am and the way I got about things. People have been fantastic. Even when I was playing in New York and coming home in the summer time, people have always been great to me. I’ve had a lot of attention with people being happy about me coming home and are excited about that, so that support has been fantastic. There have been plenty of days when I have gone out and haven’t been recognized or anything. I’m just being myself and worrying about doing what I have to do to play and contribute.

Leafs and Legends Charity Golf Classic: Nazem Kadri (TML YouTube)
Nazem Kadri met with the media at the Leafs Charity Golf Classic, discussing expectations for the season ahead, a possible change to the facial hair rule, and more.

On whether he is concerned about the loss in grit and toughness with Leo Komarov, Matt Martin and Roman Polak leaving in free agency:

That’s something we need to address, whether it’s each guy collectively picking it up… I know there are no soft guys on this team. They might not play with a super high level of physicality, but there are no soft guys. Every guy is willing to get in there and get their nose dirty. I think that is part of winning — not being afraid and sticking up for each other. I think we do have that.

On whether Kyle Dubas is going to lift the strict no-facial-hair policy from the Lou Lamoriello era:

It’s possible. Obviously, Lou was a mentor of his and he respected all of his decision making. I know they are personally good friends. That really lies up to him. We haven’t heard anything yet. I wouldn’t mind a little bit of scruff here or there. It gets kind of tough shaving every other day, especially with the way my hair grows. Whatever he decides, we’re okay with.

On the heightened expectations entering the season and the hype around the team, including from players around the league who see the Leafs as Cup contenders:

It’s nice to have that recognition, for sure. The guys have earned it to a certain extent. The last few years, the team has been headed in the right direction and the direction we want it to go in. A lot of hard work has gone into that behind the scenes. It is nice to have some sort of recognition, but to be a contender is a whole different story. We know the work that is ahead of us.

We haven’t won anything yet. I know the expectation is there, but for us, we want to have that approach. We want to be a contender and we want to be a contender for years to come. We’ve got to earn the right to do that. No team is going to give it to us or hand it over. We are going to have to earn that respect starting in October.

Leafs and Legends Charity Golf Classic: Morgan Rielly (TML YouTube)
Morgan Rielly met with the media at the Leafs Charity Golf Classic, discussing expectations for the season ahead, his partnership with Ron Hainsey, and more.

On the level of hype and excitement around the team:

With John being on board, it was a bit of a unique offseason because of that excitement, and I think it’s really contagious. The guys, the players, are all very excited and motivated this year. I think that is a great thing for a room. We just want to get going.

On whether he expects to play with Ron Hainsey again to start the season:

I haven’t had that conversation, but I hope so, and I am operating under that assumption. But we’ll see. I’ll let you know Thursday.

On the amount of contact he’s had with Mike Babcock over the summer:

We keep in touch for sure. This year was a little bit unique with John wanting to come on board. We would talk over that process a little bit. And then he would check in and just kind of, you know, be a normal call.

He calls at will. There are no warnings.

On the rising expectations and the hype about the team:

I think that’s what happens with good teams. Once you become an established team a little bit, and players get more comfortable and a bit more experienced, you start to believe in yourself and you start to have bigger goals. That is certainly what has happened here.

It’s like anything. The mood changes, the approach changes, and you’d like to think we’re going in the right direction. But we’ll see. You talk about expectation — we don’t really have that in place, but we have goals, and players have goals and are motivated to do certain things. It’s been good. Where we are now, compared to where we were a few years ago, is a move in the right direction, but we’ve got lots of room to grow.

Leafs and Legends Charity Golf Classic: Frederik Andersen (TML YouTube)
Frederik Andersen met with the media on Monday to catch up after the offseason.

On the team going without a captain to start the season:

When Kyle said we were going to start without one, I wasn’t surprised at all. I think if there is one guy that is kind of going to look like a captain at one point… but I think we have a lot of leaders already without the letter on the chest. There is going to be a natural pick at some point, but I think Kyle just want to have it play out.

Duhatschek: Q&A with John Tavares (The Athletic)
“The toughest part for John was leaving the Islanders,” said agent Pat Brisson. “He knew his heart was in Toronto. When he broke the story, the picture (he tweeted) says it all.”

Nylander’s contract stalemate at risk of eating into camp (Sportsnet)
Chris Johnston has the latest news or lack thereof on the William Nylander contract situation.

Former NHLer Keith Acton looking to enter political arena (Toronto Sun)
The long-time Leafs assistant coach is one of four candidates for Mayor of Whitchurch-Stouffville.

Leafs shed razors while Nylander works on raise (Toronto Star)
“It’s a little bit stressful — I know in my case it was,” said Nazem Kadri. “I know Willie wants to be here, wants to be around his teammates. It’s not the easiest thing to go through.”