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Coach Luke

by Matt Iaboni / Toronto Maple Leafs
Luke Schenn is going behind the bench to try his hand at coaching … for one game anyway.

Schenn is one of the celebrity coaches at the first annual Allstate All-Canadians game that will be taking place Saturday at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga.

Schenn was on the ice Thursday afternoon with his team as 42 of the top Bantam-aged players from across Canada will faceoff this weekend. Schenn’s coaching opponent  will be Ottawa Senators forward Jason Spezza.

“The coaching career is starting earlier than anticipated but it’s going to be a lot of fun,” Schenn said with a big laugh.

What will be the key to the game?

“It will come down to coaching but I have a better staff than Spezza,” Schenn said.

All kidding aside, Schenn realizes that this camp is a great opportunity for the youngsters to learn from many current and former NHL players.

“Having young players come down here at such a young age is pretty cool and they will take a lot from this camp so it will be good for them,” he said.

It’s been a busy summer for Schenn.

On Canada Day Schenn, Leafs president and general manager Brian Burke along with a few Canadian celebrities including Rick Mercer and Bubbles from the Trailer Park Boys visited the Canadian troops in Afghanistan.

“It’s hard to describe how unbelievable it was,” Schenn marveled. “People over here have no idea what it is like being in the military and that part of the world.”

Schenn has been a big supporter of the Canadian Forces by starting Luke’s Troops in his rookie season where a lucky Canadian military individual and a guest get to watch a Leafs game at Air Canada Centre.

He couldn’t believe the emotions that he went through when he visited with the toops.
“I would say it’s almost a life changing experience,” he said. “It makes you appreciate things a lot more and not to take anything for granted.”

While overseas, Schenn was amazed at how many of the troops brought their Leafs jerseys with them on their tour in Afghanistan.

“It’s Leafs Nation everywhere even in Afghanistan,” Schenn said.

He also got to face some of the troops in a ball hockey game. With the extreme heat that was taking place in Afghanistan, the game had to be played early in the morning.

“The funniest thing was that they told us we would be playing at 8 a.m. before it got hot and it was like 49 degrees,” he laughed.  “It was unbelievable how hot it was!”

With Leafs training camp just over a month away, Schenn remains the last Maple Leafs restricted free agent. Don’t fret Leafs Nation, there is no other place he would rather be than in Toronto.

“There is no question I want to be a part of things going forward and help the organization and the team chase some success,” he said.

There is no pressure to get a deal done with lots of time left before the puck drops and it is something that he isn’t concerned with at this point.

“There is still time before camp starts and I’m not worried about it,” Schenn said. “Right now it’s between my agent and Leafs management to figure out.”

Schenn has been spending most of his off-season in Kelowna where he has been working out with Nashville Predators defenceman Shea Weber and he also has had a chance to spend time with one of his new teammates, Cody Franson.

“Franson is a Western boy and I was actually at his house for dinner the other night in Kelowna,” Schenn said. “He was asking some questions about Toronto and he is really excited to get here.”

With all the moves the Leafs have made this summer, Schenn and his fellow teammates are all geared up for training camp in September.

“There is excitement and even though it is a month-and-a-half to training camp talking to guys in the summer they can’t wait to get going,” he said.

One player that he is looking forward to going up against is his younger brother Brayden who was traded to Philadelphia in the off-season.

“We play twice in exhibition and four times in the regular season so we obviously get to see each other more,” Luke said.

The first preseason game is just 46 days away. It will be here before you know it!
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