Toronto Marlies head coach John Gruden discussed the performances of the Maple Leafs’ prospects in a 7-3 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first game of the 2023 prospects tournament in Traverse City, Michigan.

Game 1 Lineup




Gruden on the team’s performance against a more experienced Blue Jackets team:

I thought it was different stages, a little bit. I thought we came out really well. We made some nice plays and didn’t get any puck luck, but we created some opportunities and the pace was good. And then they scored a couple of goals where they had traffic and it went in. It is what it is.

After that, I thought they took it to us and we watched a little bit. What you want to see from a team, especially in our first time being around the group, is that they never quit. They battled hard and they scored some goals there to at least show that once we do those things, we will be in good shape.

Gruden on the team’s ability to at least make a game of it instead of giving up:

I think it speaks to what kind of character they have. When you are trying to build something, you start with the character and everything they do. The hockey will take care of itself. We will help them with that.

It is encouraging for us as a staff to see our guys battle and not quit.

Gruden on the efforts of Frasen Minten and Max Ellis:

I really liked Minten. I thought he was outstanding — not only on the ice, but I thought he was great on the bench. He was positive and made sure that guys were still engaging and were a part of it. I was really impressed by his leadership skills.

Max was really skating and making some plays. I wanted to reward him a little bit by playing him with that line.

All in all, I liked the response. [Ethan] Cowan… There were a lot of guys that played well. I don’t want to just single anybody out. For us as a staff to evaluate players in this situation, it is important for everybody. This is the starting point.

Gruden on whether the team’s timing was off with the puck in the first game:

We worked on special teams. We had a meeting about the power play and penalty kill today. Obviously, it showed.

To the point I just made — it is a starting point. We got some good video. We can teach from those moments. That is what we will do.

Gruden on what the coaching staff hopes to accomplish over the three games in the tournament:

Just teaching points on how we want to play. Special teams will be important, too, to take some good video. We will just teach these guys how to be consistent. Every day is different. How do you get through your adversity?

Game 1 Clips

2023 Maple Leafs Prospect Tournament Schedule

Thursday, Sept. 143:30 p.m.Columbus7-3 Loss
Friday, Sept. 156:30 p.mDallas5-1 Win
Sunday, Sept. 172:00 p.mDetroit6-5 Win

2023 Maple Leafs Prospect Tournament Roster