Welcome to a "Ask a Leaf" on mapleleafs.com where you can ask a question of a member of the Maple Leafs each week and see selected answers posted here. You will also be able to see the answers on FanCam, one of the more popular shows on Leafs TV.
Recently, we had the chance to do a Q+A with gritty Maple Leafs' forward Tom Fitzgerald. Q
: With which team did you start your NHL career? Tom
: "I was playing high school hockey in Massachusetts, and that summer I knew from speculation, as well as people telling me that I was going to be drafted. I never envisioned being drafted in the first round, especially coming out of high school. It was a thrill. My family and I went to the draft that was in Montreal, and the New York Islanders picked me 17th. It was a shock and a thrill, a shock more than anything. The experience was tremendous. I saw a lot of very disappointed kids in the stands, and fortunately I was not one of them. It was nice that my family was there, grandmother, uncles, and cousins. It was a family thing. They were all very proud. "
| Fitzgerald has just wrapped up his first season with the Leafs. |
Graig Abel Photography.
: How did it feel to score your first goal? Tom
: "Well I was playing with New York Islanders, and I got called up, at that point I was just playing sparingly. There was a shot on our goal, and Kelly Hrudey was the goalie. He moved up the wing and a player, Rich Kromm, brought the puck down and gave it to me in the middle, I just kind of went from my backhand and scored on the Quebec Nordiques." Q
: How do you stay healthy as a player in order to play so many games during the season? Tom
: "You're right I have played a lot of games in the past dozen to thirteen years. Being durable is something I really take pride in. In my off-ice time I do a lot of conditioning as well as in the summer. I think it has a lot to do with luck. I hadn't had a lot of injuries till I came here to Toronto. It has been the most games that I have missed in my career. If I play the rest of the games, well the next two games, I don't even think I'll break 70 games. That is something I am not really accustomed to. So again I think it all really has to do with luck, and my conditioning habits. I think the hockey Gods are looking over me. " Q
: What are the differences between playing in the regular season and in playoff season? Tom
: "There is no comparison, you start the season in camp, and you see the levels of play that there is, then as the season begins the level rises Midseason it rises even more and towards the end, when teams are fighting for playoff spots, it really increases. The intensity is just so high, it is like, go, go, go and the hitting and the speed is so great. I think NHL hockey is the best for playoffs. It is the best to watch, mainly because of the overtime, sudden-death overtime, there's no ties; it's a different caliber of hockey alltogether compared to the regular season. " Q
: How does it feel to be apart of the Toronto Maple Leafs? Tom
: "Well it's a privilege; I get a lot of pride in getting to wear the Toronto Maple Leafs sweater. This is everything that I envisioned it would be when I signed here in the summer, especially right now going into the playoffs. I didn't sign here not to win a Stanley Cup. That is our goal as a group and I know people through out Canada adore the Leafs and dream of playing for the Leafs, I am very fortunate that Im living other people's dream. I take a lot of pride in playing here. " Check back in upcoming weeks for the next installment and see the Features Archive for past installments of "Ask a Leaf".