Calvin creates crowd
The domino effect is about to influence the goaltending picture in the Maple Leafs’ organization.
With the acquisition on Friday of Calvin Pickard from the Vegas Golden Knights, there’s a glut in the crease and Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock warned against expecting it to last.
“(Pickard) is a goalie some of our guys identified as far as having depth,” Babcock said on Saturday.
“Once he cleared waivers (with Vegas), it became a good move for us. (General manager) Lou (Lamoriello) was able to get it done and we’re in a better situation because of it.
“Now with our guys in the minors, we have to sort that out. We’d like them to all play. Maybe someone is looking for an American Hockey League goalie and we can get that done as well.”
Pickard joins fellow goalies Garret Sparks and Kasimir Kaskisuo on the Marlies roster. On Saturday, Sparks started in net and Kaskisuo backed up when the Marlies opened their 2017-18 regular season against the Utica Comets and made 19 saves in a 3-1 Marlies victory. Rich Clune, Kerby Rychel and Nikita Soshnikov scored for Toronto.
Though Curtis McElhinney is under contract through next season, Pickard — a 25-yearold veteran of 86 games with the Colorado Avalanche — is destined to back up Frederik Andersen on a full-time basis at some point.
At least one Leaf won’t have to introduce himself to Pickard. Mitch Marner and the goalie were teammates with Canada when it won silver at the 2017 world championship last spring.
“He’s a light-hearted guy who likes to have fun,” Marner said. “He’s a guy who is going to bring character our room.
“We have a lot of players in the Marlies organization who can help this team a lot. That’s the story with the goaltending as well.”
PLEASE SIGN MY … FRY
Some things you can’t make up, and there was Nazem Kadri relating to media some of the stranger requests he has had from Leafs fans over the years.
“I’ve had tons of scenarios where fans have got me to sign, you know, French fries, phone cases …” Kadri said. A French fry? “It was pretty weird,” Kadri said after drawing laughter. “I don’t know where it ended up. Yes, with a sharpie. It was probably the worst autograph I have ever given. It was very unusual.
“People ask you to sign their kids. Gotta love the Leafs fans. You can’t fault them for it.”
Truth is, like many members of this Leafs team, Kadri enjoys the public interaction with fans.
“Our fans are very passionate, very knowledgeable and very educated,” Kadri said, “so they understand bits and pieces of the game that maybe other places don’t. We appreciate their support.”
Kadri’s charity, the Nazem Kadri Foundation, was set to play host during the home opener at the Air Canada Centre to Emily McIntosh of Guelph, who is fighting brain cancer.
“I play a professional sport and if I have not scored in four or five games, it’s a stressful time for me,” Kadri said. “But that is nothing compared to what these people deal with on a regular basis and for her to be able to fight and battle like that like a true soldier means a lot. I’m happy she can make it.”
The fan in Leafs forward Zach Hyman loved some of the pretty goals that had been scored across the NHL in the first few days of the regular season. “It’s a good start with some of the goals that are being scored and the highlights,” Hyman said. “Everything is so tight now that you need to be able to make plays to score goals.” … Why does Babcock believe in chatting with his players about life in general and not just the sport that brings them together? “Nothing worse than when they see you coming and they’ve leaving because they know you’re going to talk about hockey,” Babcock said. “Talking about things besides hockey is important.”
Maple Leafs forward Mitch Marner follows through on shot during the first period last night.