After Wednesday’s practice in Sweden, Sheldon Keefe discussed the adjustment to the schedule overseas, the status of John Klingberg and Conor Timmins for this weekend’s games, and the team’s plans for off-ice activities in Stockholm.
Practice Lines – Nov. 15
#Leafs lines during practice Nov. 15/23
Woll, Samsonov, Jones@BodogCA
— David Alter (@dalter) November 15, 2023
John Klingberg wasn’t on the ice today. Is there an update on his status?
Keefe: He just wasn’t ready to go today. We think there is a chance he could be on the ice on Friday, but of course, I would say his chances of playing on Friday are low right now just given the fact that he hasn’t skated since the game the other night.
We are hoping to use this time, with the gap in between, to give him the time to heal and also have some aggressive treatment with him to really help. That has taken longer than thought, but the expectation or hope is that once he gets over the hump, he will be feeling better.
He just wasn’t feeling right to get on the ice today. I don’t think the long flight did him any favours coming over here, either.
Conor Timmins is looking like he might be an option for you?
Keefe: He is an option, but at this point, I am told it is unlikely for Friday. We will see what the next couple of days will bring.
I haven’t talked to the trainers since today’s practice, which was an important one for him, but going into today, we basically were setting it up for Friday’s game with Timmins out. But he is getting closer for sure.
What is your sense of how the team is getting over jet lag and how they’re feeling after practice today?
Keefe: It seems to me the group has had a good night of sleep. That goes a long way. We certainly got a lot more out of them today than I felt we could yesterday in terms of meetings and our time spent on the ice. That is positive.
We have a mandatory off-day tomorrow. We will get back with a morning skate on Friday to get ready to play. Today was a good step.
NHL teams in the past have gone on sauna trips in Sweden to bond inside the team atmosphere. What have you done as a team so far in Sweden?
Keefe: We have tried to sleep. That is about it so far. We play on Friday, so we have the rest of the day today and our mandatory off-day tomorrow. That will provide time for the guys to be together.
We don’t have anything scheduled. The players have dinners scheduled and all of that, but otherwise, we are still trying to adjust and get ready to play.
As we said to the players today, we want to enjoy our time here. We want to enjoy the rest of today and tomorrow but not lose sight of what we are here for. These are regular-season games — important games and important points — so let’s make sure we keep that in mind with all that we are doing.
Is there any way Mats Sundin will be involved with anything the players and team are doing given you are in his backyard?
Keefe: Yeah, my understanding is that he is going to join our staff dinner on Thursday. He is going to spend time with our staff.
In terms of our players, I don’t know that specifically, but I did see his name knowing he was going to be involved in some of the things we are going to be doing later this week. I am excited about it. It is great to have a guy like him around. Any time our alums come around, it is really good, and certainly one of his status in his own country is terrific.
With how the schedule is set up, you will be playing two games in 11 or 12 days. Will you be scoreboard-watching around the league more to fill the time?
Keefe: No more than the general curiosity you have to follow along with what’s going on in the league. It was quite interesting; I woke up this morning to check the scores, and there were games still going on. I am not used to that.
It is strange. It breaks up the rhythm you have gotten into with the league basically working every second day. We are trying to use that to our advantage coming over here. It has its challenges, of course, because of the time changes and managing all of that.
It does give us a chance to have more practice time and spend more time together as a group. We want to turn it into a benefit for us, of course, but it is important that we are smart with all of what we are doing.
I do know that I have talked to a number of people who have taken these trips over the years, and some have felt that it took them a really long time to recover once they got back. It is the combination of losing the rhythm and the challenge of the time change and travel.
We are trying to be as smart as we can about it and are really just focusing on what is in front of us with the practice, the off-day, and the games in front of us.