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Thursday FTB: training camp blues

I have them already.

The Toronto Maple Leafs open their training camp
Justin Holl and William Nylander do a death spiral last year at camp.
Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Training camp is about getting ready for the real thing, which is not those games on Saturday. The real thing is 82 games that do actually mean something, yes, but not what they mean for teams trying to get better. The trouble with the Leafs is that they need to prove they are better, and no one is going to be satisfied with anything they do in the regular season. And this is, let’s be honest, not all that thrilling a position for us the fans to be in.

Add to that the fact that training camp is for platitudes and clichés and polite fictions — like the one that some AHL kid is going to take a roster spot from a guy with years of NHL experience — and it all gets a little depressing.

The Leafs seem to get that. Their Dubas and Keefe show was brisk, sharp and to the point, and the questions all amounted to: but how do you know you’ve got a good enough team? And the answer was the obvious one no one ever likes: they don’t know. Like how you don’t know how those goalies are really going to perform, and you don’t know who is going to play great or terrible or be hurt or have the best year of their lives.

The players clock in at almost an hour, but there is a lot of them. I skipped ahead to Jake Muzzin, Mark Giordano and William Nylander because I like them.

Muzzin discussed very briefly the work the defence will have to do to get to know the new goalies. If you cast your mind back to Frederik Andersen’s first few games, there was an issue there.

“It is time,” says Jake, and yeah, we know, but it’s comforting to have him just say it in the way he does. But that is all there is to say. Sure we’ll argue about ZAR vs NAK and which young player totally should play the fourth line, but won’t, and who should start game one. But this is another long dress rehearsal for the real show.

Other news:

It was clear over the summer, that Nikita Soshnikov did not want to stay in Russia, so thanks, Lou for making that happen for him.

Some other RFAs signed:

And Barret Hayton signed yesterday, so...

That’s five with Wotherspoon on the Isles now, and everyone believes McLeod has a deal. So four left.

Today is day one of camp, so there will be reports of weird lines, strange groups and lots of goalies. The first job is making two teams for Saturday, and then after that’s in the books, the whole exercise can get a little more serious.

Now, you all need to get in shape too, so make up some lines, create some hot takes, fall for a rumour. Get ready for the real thing by just sticking to your fundamentals and doing it right every day.