Calvin cre­ates crowd

Sunday Sports - - SPORTS - — Terry Koshan

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.”

LOOSE LEAFS

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.”

JACK BOLAND/TORONTO

Maple Leafs for­ward Mitch Marner fol­lows through on shot dur­ing the first pe­riod last night.

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