Maple Leafs moving past playoff nightmare as camp opens | Hockey | CBC Sports

Hockey Night in CanadaMaple Leafs moving past playoff nightmare as camp opens

Posted: Wednesday, September 11, 2013 | 07:57 PM

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Centre Nazem Kadri signed a two-year, $5.8-million US deal on the eve of the start of Wednesday's camp, ending contentious contract talks between the restricted free agent centre and the Toronto Maple Leafs. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press) Centre Nazem Kadri signed a two-year, $5.8-million US deal on the eve of the start of Wednesday's camp, ending contentious contract talks between the restricted free agent centre and the Toronto Maple Leafs. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

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As hockey writer Mike Brophy reports from camp, Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Dave Nonis hasn't spent the off-season dwelling on the team's Game 7 collapse against the Boston Bruins last spring.
You might think with the way his Toronto Maple Leafs went down last spring, coughing up a three-goal third period lead in Game 7 of the first round of playoffs, GM Dave Nonis would have spent the entire off-season reliving the nightmare.

You'd be dead wrong.

"A lot has been made and said about the end of the season and obviously it's not something we enjoyed going through, it's something you will never happen again, but I can be honest with you, I haven't spent a lot of time thinking about the last few minutes of the Boston game," Nonis said. "I spent a lot more time thinking about the fact we proved to ourselves that we can compete with that team. That's what we have taken out of it. We're not forgetting what happened, but I haven't spent literally five minutes thinking about it. It's dwelling on a negative and I don't think we should do that. We're not where we need to be, but we're a lot closer than we were 24 months ago."

Nonis, in his second year as the Maple Leafs GM, met with the media Wednesday morning as the players gathered at MasterCard Centre for their season-opening physicals and spoke on a variety of subjects.

On getting Nazem Kadri signed to a two-year contract the night before training camp opened: "Naz understood where we were where we were. We felt it was an important position to take. We felt it was a fair offer all along. There was some movement made to try to get the deal done."

Did you think about what beating the Bruins would have meant: "A little bit. Once you get into the post-season, anything can happen. There are better teams than others in the post-season. It doesn't mean those teams are going to win. Once you get there, you have a chance."

On defenceman Cody Franson not being at camp because he has no contract: "At this point there's nothing to report. We've made him an offer that we want him to take. He's declined to take it. At this point, we're going to move ahead with the players we have here in camp. There are realities about where you are. We have 'X' amount of cap space. We have players who are going to try to make this team that may eat up some of that. There's only so much we have to get a deal done. I understand his position, he doesn't think this is fair. We want him signed. We want to have Cody at camp. But he's not here. We have to move forward."

On adding two-time Stanley Cup champ David Bolland and 2012 Stanley Cup finalist David Clarkson: "When you add players who have won, who have gone through the adversity to win a championship, they can pass on a lot to the players around them. You look at how Chicago won their Cups. It wasn't like they blew everybody out of the water. There was adversity along the way. David was big part of that. We can't ask him or anybody else we brought in to do anything out of the ordinary, do something they haven't done in the past. We want them to be themselves, be the player they were on their previous teams. Those players are pretty good players that helped them win championships or get to the finals."

On adding goaltender Jonathan Bernier from Los Angeles:
"Last year, when that team was struggling and looked like they could fall out of the playoffs, as well as Quick played, if you were to call Dean Lombardi right now and ask who saved our season, he'd say it was Jonathan Bernier. He played some pretty important games. He played some games that got the back on a roll and got them into the playoffs. In our mind, he is a quality prospect."

Bozie's back

Centre Tyler Bozak made it to unrestricted free agency this summer, but did not want to leave the Maple Leafs. The free agent experience wasn't quite what he expected.

"It's stressful," Bozak declared. "Obviously I wanted to stay here; I was hoping they wanted the same. It's obviously a nice time when you're an unrestricted free agent as a player, but it was a little bit more stressful than I thought it would be and I was really excited when I was able to get the deal done."

Bozak is often ripped for not being a true No. 1 centre, even though he skates on a line with Phil Kessel and James van Reimsdyk, but his numbers the past two years have been pretty good - 30 goals and 75 points in 119 games - for a guy who plays a dependable two-way game and is solid in the faceoff circle.

One person who was pleased about Bozak re-signing with the Maple Leafs is his pal Kessel.

"We've played together for a couple of years and we know where each other is on the ice," Kessel said. "We have good chemistry out there and we're good friends off the ice, so that helps."

Rule change

The news that the NHL is going to test hybrid icing during the pre-season didn't quite make it to Phil Kessel.

"We changed the icing?" Kessel said when he was asked about it. "I didn't even know. I had no clue until you just told me that. I think it's good. It's a dangerous part of the game when guys are going back racing for the puck. Hopefully it takes that out of the equation."

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