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A Player Diary with ... Joe Nieuwendyk

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
Joe joins the Leafs as a home-town boy who's seen success everywhere he's played. Joe keeps you up to date throughout the season with his periodic player diaries.
-- Maple Leafs Centreman

October 28, 2003

TORONTO -- Welcome to the first installment of my diary. I thought it would a good idea if I kept you posted on how things are going during my first year in Toronto, being a local guy and all.

I wanted to come here and I got my wish just in time to go to Sweden.

For myself personally, signing just before we left for Sweden was a little bit difficult, but I think getting over there was probably the best thing for me. I was able to put everything on the backburner and just go over and meet the guys.

We had a great start in Sweden and I think sometimes that's the way you want to get going, just being with the guys. They couldn't have picked a better spot for it. It was a great training camp and Mats was a great host. He had us out at his cottage for the one day, which was a lot of fun for everybody.

The home-town boy is thrilled to be playing for his home-town club.
(Getty Images/NHLI)
The trip allowed us to come together as a team early, but maybe the traveling and the week off prior to the season took some wind out of our sails. We didn't get off to the start that we wanted to. I think offensively we struggled a little bit.

In the last week, especially on the road trip, you live eat and breathe hockey so you start to focus a bit better and I think now we've got things going.

We still have some work to do, although we have played three games where we allowed 16 shots or less and I think that's the way we want to play.

We're a work in progress, but it's getting better all the time.

My role hasn't changed from the teams that I've been on. I wasn't going to come in here and try to be somebody I'm not. I'm just going to be myself and hopefully that's enough. I enjoy being in the locker room with the guys and as an older player you can say some things that may help the younger guys, but I just have enjoyed coming to the rink everyday.

The most enjoyable thing for me so far is the fact I get to see my family more often. On the ice has been terrific because we get treated so well here in Toronto, but off the ice it's been great because my kids can see their cousins now and I can see my brothers, sisters and my Dad. Its been 18 years since I've been able to do that.

Gary and I have been able to pick up where we left off in Calgary. We're two of the older guys now, but it's been great being back with him. He's made the transition that much easier for me. We can go out for dinner and talk about the hometown. Those things are really nice.

There's few guys on this team that have surprised me. I look at a guy like Tomas Kaberle, I mean I knew he was a good player, but I think potentially the way he skates and the way he handles the puck, he could take his game to a Scott Niedermayer level.

Players like that, you don't realize how skilled that they are. Almo for example, I knew he was a pretty skilled guy, but it's been fun to watch him everyday.

Well that's all for now from me, but I'll be back soon to let you in on all the latest in my next player diary.

Thanks for reading and GO Leafs GO!

Joe " features
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