New Leafs signing Casey Bailey
took part in his first practice with the Leafs on Wednesday. Here's what he had to say following the skate...
On his first practice:
It's nice to get those nerves out of the way. The guys have been great to me since I got here and have been really helpful. It was fun.
On the immediate difference between NHL and college hockey:
The speed, the size, the quickness of the game, you have to make decisions quicker. I obviously can't tell from a first practice but I can imagine, there's a lot of skill out there.
On choosing Toronto:
I had the opportunity to get used to the NHL. It's an amazing organization, Original Six, I was just humbled by the opportunity to get to the NHL.
On coming from Penn State:
I think it's huge to be able to represent my school like that and get my feet wet. I'd like to be able to represent them and I hope I do a good job of it.
On if he has any Alaskan connections to Joey Crabb:
I skate with Joey quite a bit when I'm home. He's very helpful to me, he's always giving me pointers and advice. He reached out when he saw that I signed here. He's a great guy.
On being passed in the draft:
It's something you get over pretty quick. I see myself as a guy that developed a little later so I kind of used it as fuel to work on my game and get better.
On the new facilities at Penn State:
The setup (Terry) Pegula gave us is phenomenal. What you've got here is probably better. I'm not taking a step down, which I thought I might with some of the NHL teams. What Pegula did for us and what Penn State has got going on is a great thing.
On the ties to Buffalo via their owner founding Penn State hockey:
It didn't work out and I'm happy where I landed. There were a couple of teams trying to get at me and I chose Toronto. I'm happy with the decision I made.
On being part of a rebuild:
I'm just here to learn from these guys and see what I have to do this summer to hopefully make this team next year. I'm just hoping I can fit in and do whatever I can.
On if he'll stay in Toronto over the summer:
Whatever they want me to do, I'm going to try to get better this summer.
On Tyler Bozak who went through a similar situation when he signed in Toronto:
He's a phenomenal player, a role model, a guy that I've enjoyed watching the past couple of years. He was out there patting me on the legs and just looking at guys like that gives you some confidence.
On Max Gardiner (Jake's brother) and his reaction to the Toronto signing:
The whole team back at Penn State was so supportive and so happy for me. I don't really know Jake too well but having a little bit of a connection there definitely helps.
On talking with Brendan Shanahan:
He was definitely a big part of it. He's got a vision to develop his players and turn this place around. Just the respect I have for him and his history. I just talked to him and he told me the things he liked about my game and it was kind of the things I liked about my game. I think he's going to give me the chance to develop and get better here.
On the opportunity:
It's a team I could jump in with and possibly get in some games. Hopefully down the road I can get in some games and get my toes wet in the NHL and see what I have to do to get better in the summer.
On the looming negotiations over the course of his season:
It was something in the back of my mind the entire but I thought I did a pretty good job of keeping it in the back of my mind and trying to not let it affect my game. I just like to go out there and do what I can to help the team.
On if it was stressful to make a choice:
Yeah, those first couple of days after we lost out it was, kind of. My agent does most of the work so I'm kind of sitting there in the dark not really knowing who's calling him and what the conversations are going like. It's my dream to play in the NHL and to have this opportunity, I'm just so grateful and honoured for the opportunity.
On what clinched the Leafs as his team of choice:
I think that conversation I had with Brendan. I wasn't sure where I was going, there was a lot of options. The opportunity here and what he saw and what he said to me made me comfortable coming here... He gave me a phone call and we had about a 30 minute phone call the day I agreed to sign here.
On his game:
He sees me as a guy that can shoot the puck and I like to get to the net. I'm still working on a lot of parts of my game, I'm not an NHL All-Star by any means. I want to hone my game and get better while I'm up here and get better if I'm down with the Marlies if that happens.
On his major:
Economics, I'm hoping to finish my degree. I'm working with my professors to finish this semester and we'll go from there.
On not going to class on a Wednesday:
It's kind of nice. It's important to me to get the degree so I'm hoping I get that done... I've got two semesters left so a little less than 30 credits to finish.
On leaving a brand new Division I program for a storied NHL franchise:
There's so much history with this program and it's a team I grew up watching and admiring. To go from such a new program to such a solidified Originial Six team, it's an honour to put this on my chest.