Gil­mour talks Leafs, cap­tains & the cup

On the eve of a new NHL sea­son that has home­town fans abuzz with Stan­ley Cup dreams, we check in with one of the all-time most pop­u­lar Maple Leafs play­ers, Doug Gil­mour

North York Post - - News - By Ron John­son

Although Toronto’s Doug Gil­mour re­tired 15 years ago, he is still very much around. He plays in Hall of Fame games, is pres­i­dent of the OHL’s Kingston Fron­te­nacs and has em­braced his en­tre­pre­neur­ial side with a line of prod­ucts, from wine and beer to fashion. Who bet­ter to ask about the team’s po­ten­tial for suc­cess this sea­son.

Do you still get an ex­tra bit of ex­cite­ment this time of year when train­ing camp gets un­der­way?

Well, ob­vi­ously I’m a fan, and you know, as far as [the Kingston Fron­te­nacs] train­ing camp goes, it opened three weeks ago, so we are a bit ahead of Toronto. But I was up in Ni­a­gara on the week­end at an alumni game, and the fan sup­port for the Leafs is just over­whelm­ing. Again, it’s just a pro­jec­tion right now where they are go­ing, but it’s a good prob­lem to have.

What do you make of the con­tro­versy over the Leafs cap­taincy with free agent and former Is­lan­ders cap­tain John Tavares join­ing the team head­ing into this sea­son?

I think at this time they are do­ing the right thing. There is no rush on do­ing it. Yes, they have John Tavares here, and you’ve got Aus­ton Matthews here. We all get it. At this point in time, why not just leave it empty and take the fo­cus off of ev­ery­body. You can de­sign your pick at some point in time or go the whole year and it won’t be an is­sue. So I think, from my side, they are do­ing the right thing to just leave it open for a lit­tle bit.

You played in a lot of dif­fer­ent cities. Was there any added pres­sure play­ing here in Toronto?

You don’t even think about that. You think about the ex­cite­ment. You go to the rink, and the fans are there cheer­ing for you ev­ery night. You are go­ing to have good games. You are go­ing to have bad games, but per­son­ally I never thought there was pres­sure. You ab­sorb the en­vi­ron­ment and just go out and work hard and hope­fully good things hap­pen.

What do you like most about the cur­rent lineup?

The skill. I’m a puck pos­ses­sion player. For these guys to have four pretty good lines, but also three top cen­tre­man, not a lot of other teams have an op­tion for that, maybe one or two. But three guys to score over 30 goals plus, that’s pretty cool.

What was your fond­est mem­ory from your time with the team?

Hon­estly, there are so many. My first game play­ing in the Leafs uni­form and ob­vi­ously the ’93 and ’94 play­off runs, those are up there. And it was just such fun times. And for us, as fans now, it feels like that emo­tion is back. For us,’93/’94, it was a fun ride, plus the Blue Jays were win­ning, so there was a lot go­ing on and it was a good time.

Let’s talk about you be­ing traded from the team and how that felt. As you know, other big names in Toronto sports have been shown the door lately, DeMar DeRozan and Josh Don­ald­son, to name two.

Un­for­tu­nately, it’s not your de­ci­sion all the time. I was traded a cou­ple times be­fore that any­ways, so my big­gest fo­cus was if a team wants me they’ll come and get me. If they put you up for a trade and no­body wants you, well that’s some­thing much harder to swal­low.

I gotta ask: where did the “Killer” name orig­i­nate?

Well, it was in St. Louis. Brian Sutter was my room­mate for five years, and they called me Char­lie. I had a mul­let, and I was a skinny look­ing guy, so he more or less called me Char­lie Man­son. So, it’s not a great way to get a nick­name, but it sort of went to Killer from there.

What in­spired your move to the en­tre­pre­neur­ial world?

You gotta en­joy what you’re do­ing. For a guy play­ing hockey, for me, if I would have to have come back for my 21st year and I’m play­ing 10 min­utes a game, I wouldn’t have been en­joy­ing it. I’d be say­ing OK I’m done. I’ve gone through dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ences in my 15year re­tire­ment now, and I’m just go­ing to keep build­ing on dif­fer­ent op­tions. It’s fun, and it keeps my mind busy and keeps me busy.

Do you agree with Ve­gas that the Leafs have the best shot at the Stan­ley Cup this year?

They gotta be up there for sure. I watch a lot of games and lots of ju­niors, too, and it’s al­ways fun to see where they are at and what they are do­ing. Again, I think the big­gest thing is that I hope stuff like this [be­ing the odds-on favourite to win the cup] does not put any more added pres­sure on them. They just have to go out and play. I mean it’s early, and you’ve got a long sea­son in front of you. You don’t even worry about the play­offs right now. I mean, you worry about getting in there, don’t get me wrong. But it’s a long sea­son, so stay healthy. The real sea­son starts at play­off time.

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