With an offseason of flux bringing fresh faces to the dressing room and fresh eyes evaluating them, there were jobs to be won in Maple Leafs training camp. As we approach the Leafs' home opener, it appears defender Scott Harrington
will be one of the players who was successful in doing just that.
Harrington joined the Maple Leafs on July 1 in the trade that also brought Kasperi Kapanen and Nick Spaling to Toronto. While the former has been more heralded as a blue chip prospect and the latter penciled into the opening roster, Harrington has quietly gone about his business on the back end. In doing so, he has drawn the praise and trust of the coaching staff and remains with the Leafs into October.
When asked about the performance of Harrington and fellow blueliner Martin Marincin through camp, Leafs general manager Lou Lamoriello said that the pair steadily improved during camp, noting "they've impressed the coaching staff and they've deserved the opportunity they're getting."
As of Monday's practice, Harrington and the aforementioned Marincin took turns in a pairing with Jake Gardiner on the backend for the Leafs — another player who has garnered ample praise from the coaching staff. Given the emphasis on moving the puck put forth by head coach Mike Babock, Harrington could be on the verge of seizing a massive opportunity off the hop.
From Harrington's perspective, however, this has just been a matter of approaching each day as a chance to learn more and more as a player. His play has been a reflection of those lessons hitting home.
"I've really just been going out every day and trying to play my game and improve on that game. I've been trying to get more used to what the coaches want and different systems," said Harrington. "Each day I've tried to build on what I've done the previous day. Each day is a learning experience and I'm just trying to improve and retain as much as I can."
That opportunity on the blueline may be prolonged as Babcock confirmed today that veteran defenceman Stéphane Robidas is nursing a lower body injury. There is currently no timetable placed on his return.
"We've known he's been hurting," said Babcock. "Obviously it got to a point — that's sometimes the way it is with injuries — we had an off-day yesterday, he came in today and he did what he's supposed to do to get ready to go and he wasn't able to go."
"The great thing about pro athletes is they know their bodies better than anyone else. Between him and our medical staff we'll get it figured out."
Babcock also confirmed that Jonathan Bernier will get the nod in goal for the Leafs during their first two games of the season against Montreal and Detroit respectively. James Reimer will start on Saturday night against the Ottawa Senators.
The Maple Leafs will have another practice day on Tuesday before opening their season at Air Canada Centre on Wednesday, Oct. 7 at 7 pm.
Practice Lines (Oct. 5, 2015)
21 van Riemsdyk - 43 Kadri - 28 Boyes
23 Matthias - 42 Bozak - 19 Lupul
26 Winnik - 16 Spaling - 15 Parenteau
47 Komarov - 33 Arcobello/24 Holland - 40 Grabner
2 Hunwick - 3 Phaneuf
44 Rielly - 46 Polak
51 Gardiner - 36 Harrington/52 Marincin