Day One of Prospect Camp; Burke Retorts, Holding Pattern Re: New Bodies

 

The Leafs prospect camp kicked off today at Mastercard Centre in Etobicoke, Ontario with 42 future Leaf hopefuls from around North America and Europe in attendance, including the nine players drafted last month in Minnesota. Four goaltender prospects will participate, including Mark Owuya, Grant Rollheiser, Garret Sparks and Dan Sullivan. Director of Player Development Jim Hughes, along with newly-minted assistant coaches Scott Gordon and Greg Cronin oversaw day one activities, which included a gruelling Wingate test, causing hard-nosed first round draftee Tyler Biggs to cut a post-test presser short in order to involuntarily jettison the contents of his stomach in a nearby trash bin, to the amusement of handful of local scribes. Its not uncommon for test subjects to toss their cookies after the Wingate, a particularly strenuous anaerobic measurement convention, in which the subject must maintain a constant speed on a stationary bike against a constant level of resistance. The test determines the subject's peak anaerobic capacity, which is useful in gauging overall power and quick-burst explosiveness, closely replicating the physical demands of pro hockey.
 
Jake Gardiner, the Leaf's high-end American-born defense prospect procured in the Beauchemin trade, celebrated his 21st birthday by joining his future teammates in Toronto for camp, in which the participants will receive instruction in the various aspects of life as a pro athlete, including media training, sports nutrition, team-building, personal development and conditioning, as well as a mini- police foundations crash course at the Toronto Police Academy. The comprehensive programme is engineered to foster a mindset conducive to the rigours of high-level competition. During the five-day period, the players will be subjected to numerous tasks which will reveal both flaws and strengths in various developmental aspects such as physical, social and psychological, and hockey skills, giving both the player and the organization valuable insight into each participant's specific overall profile. They'll also compete in inter-squad scrimmages between Tuesday and Thursday.
 
Some of the top prospects present at the 2011 camp are:
-Tyler Biggs
-Jesse Blacker
-Jake Gardiner
-Stuart Percy
-Jerry D'Amigo
-Sondre Olden
-Brad Ross
-Greg McKegg
-Kenny Ryan
-Jamie Devane
 
In other Leaf news, Burke had several comments to make regarding the activities of the weekend, not the least of which being in response to the overt criticism of a Toronto sports media personality (who will not be named)  claiming Burke's absence may have scuttled any legitimate opportunity to land Brad Richards. In Burke's own words, he is “deeply offended” by the unfounded speculation, citing the fact that he had a very capable consortium which included Dave Nonis, Claude Loiselle and former Leaf GM Cliff Fletcher on hand to make their presentation, and that communication between him and his staff was constant throughout his time in Afghanistan. They had Cellular service, Skype, and a dedicated landline as a backup should comms be compromised. Burke was honoured to accept the invitation to pay homage to Canada's bravest in person on July 1, and claims he would do it again without hesitation.
 
This was nothing but another cheap shot from a local media blowhard doing his best to try to remain relevant to the Toronto sports scene. While controversy often equals reader reaction, what dinosaurs like the author of these baseless insults fail to realize is that the Toronto sports culture is evolving. Toronto hockey fans are a fiercely loyal, sophisticated and informed group, and the days of this type of smashmouth sports coverage are coming to an end. Toronto Sports culture is coming of age and they had better learn to keep pace or, like  other recently unemployed antagonists, they too will be the engineers of their own demise...
 
 
And to end off on a more uplifting note, Burke reflected on the new acquisitions that his trusted staff managed to lock up while he and Luke Schenn met with Canadian troops overseas, stating that he feels the new bodies will prove to be quantifiable improvements over the club's recent results, and has advised that they'll be taking a breather for the time being. “We feel we’ve dramatically altered the look of the team for the better. So we’re going to sit back now and await further developments.”
 
Further developments”, you say. The suggestion that there are still irons in the fire is a plausible conclusion one might draw from this remark. And with the majority of this year's UFA crop all locked up, you have to think that there is a distinct possibility that the next Toronto Maple to emerge will be acquired by means of a trade. With a number of top-quality restricted free agents still unsigned, it stands to reason that there may be discussions being held to this end. While I refuse to fuel rampant speculation about any one of Doughty, Bogosian, Stamkos or Parise, I will conclude by saying that if anyone can make it happen, Brian Burke can...but only if the return warrants the asking price.
 
Stay tuned, Nation; this could very well heat up over the summer...