For the first time in team history, the Maple Leafs will conduct training camp outside of Ontario as they will officially begin on-ice preparations for the 2001-02 season at Mile One Stadium in St. John's, Newfoundland on September 11.
Traditionally, the Leafs have cycled the location for their camp between Hamilton, Kitchener and Barrie, three Southern Ontario cities that are just a slapshot away from Toronto. This year however will see the team travel to the site of their farm team where the St. John's Maple Leafs will open a sparkling new arena.
"We feel pride about team there and in the new arena," said Ken Dryden, Leafs president. "There is a new arena for the community that wouldn't have happened without the St. John's Maple Leafs."
One of the other reasons for heading to the East Coast is the expected response from fans all across the Maritimes who will feel like the Leafs are their team, for the week at least.
"A week there will remind the players what the Leafs mean to people," Dryden said.
There is more to the rationale for Toronto to hold its camp in St. John's, a city that has never hosted an NHL training camp or preseason game, a fact which will get remedied when the Leafs and Canadiens open the preseason at Mile One Stadium on September 16.
"The wonderful name of their new arena, Mile One Stadium, is fitting for the Leafs season," added Dryden. "It is mile one of the Trans-Canada Highway, it is the spot where Alcock and Brown left for the first trans-Atlantic flight, where Marconi's first radio signal was received, where Terry Fox began his run, where the sun first strikes the shores of North America and where the North American day begins. The slogan for our season is 'It All Starts Here' and we can't imagine a better place to start the year.
"This is the Leafs 75th anniversary season, a season we want to be a championship season. A year from now when they list all those reasons for calling it Mile One, we'd like to be able to add that it is also the place where the Leafs legendary 2001-02 season began."