Maple Leafs defenceman Justin Holl spoke with the media via conference call earlier today.
Q (Chris Johnston, Sportsnet): With this pause we've had this season, have you had a chance to reflect on what a year it was for you and what allowed you to make such a breakthrough in the NHL this year?
JUSTIN HOLL: I think it was mostly -- obviously at the beginning of the year getting a little bit of an opportunity was positive. I was able to get my foot in the door a little bit. As the season went on I started accumulating more responsibility, so that was good and I'm just looking to build on that. Hopefully we can start again soon here, and I can continue to grow in that direction and continue to improve.
Q (Lance Hornby, Toronto Sun): Can you tell us how you are and where you are?
JUSTIN HOLL: I'm good. I'm in Minnesota. I think it was a week or two weeks after the season was paused and they were talking about closing down the borders and stuff like that we made a decision to head down to Minnesota for the time being. We've been here for about a month and half. It's been good, obviously it's been boring at times, but everyone is in the same boat there and we're just trying to ride it out. Hopefully we get back to normal soon, get back to playing and finish the season off.
Q (Lance Hornby, Toronto Sun): How excited are you that your team has added a couple of players, albeit guys that won't play until next year? Certainly Mikko Lehtonen has got some interest going and you have Barabanov coming to the forward lines next year. What's it like to hear about those guys but know that their arrival is going to be delayed a little bit?
JUSTIN HOLL: I don't know firsthand anything about them as players, but a lot of people are excited about them and they seem to be really good players and good additions. I certainly think they'll help us out a lot and anytime you can get good new players in it's a positive for everybody on the team.
Q (Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press): If you're in Minnesota, have you gotten any direction on coming back [to Toronto]? The Prime Minister said recently that players coming over the border will need to quarantine for two weeks. I'm just wondering with talk of entering the next phase of getting back on the ice if you've had to start making plans for that.
JUSTIN HOLL: I would call it tentative plans. The general consensus among American players is that we'll wait until we have a concrete plan before we go back. You never know if you go back and you'll be sitting around for another month or two. Once we have a plan, being in Minnesota, I'll just hop in the car that day basically and just drive back and start that process and hopefully we'll be good to go.
Q (Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press): Just looking back a little bit, we all know you sat out 71 games two seasons ago. You were in the NHL; you weren't playing a lot and you were 27 at that point. Was there any doubt in your mind that you could play at that level? You've obviously proven it now, but what was that experience like?
JUSTIN HOLL: I've answered this question a couple times before and I'll probably give you the same answer. I didn't have any doubt that I could play at this level but there's always uncertainty of whether you will. There's a difference difference between knowing you can and knowing that you're going to do it or that you will do it or that you'll get the chance. I think in that sense there was some doubt, you never know if it's actually going to happen, but there was never any doubt that I could play at this level, I knew I was good enough. I knew I'd come up and played two games in 2018 and I was playing confident because I was playing with the Marlies and played the exact same way at the NHL level. Obviously the NHL has a way of humbling you too and it can affect your confidence in certain ways, but I think the short answer is no I never doubted that I could, but you never know if you'll get the chance.
Q (Joshua Kloke, The Athletic): You've been doing these Leaf-to-Leaf episodes, just curious how that came together, and does it make you think about a career in media after you're done playing?
JUSTIN HOLL: Well actually I think it was either Steve [Keogh] or Scott [McNaughton] had reached out to me and said that they had this idea of doing these while we were shut down and asked me if I'd be interested in being the host or whatever and I said, 'For sure.' It's fun, calling my teammates and just chatting with them and everything like that, that's easy and fun. Maybe I shouldn't be saying this, but the promo stuff is the stuff that I don't really like. You know where you have to be like, 'Hey check it out at 3 p.m. Eastern Time'. That stuff is harder for me than just calling my buddies and talking. In terms of a career in media, who knows what's going to happen in the next stage of life. I'm keeping all options open so if you guys have any job offers send them my way.
Q (Chris Johnston, Sportsnet): I wanted to follow up when you were talking about making plans potentially to come back and how you're approaching that. Have you been on a lot of the calls? Are you paying close attention? How are you personally handing the day-to-day news of what's going on?
JUSTIN HOLL: Absolutely. I think Kyle [Dubas] has done a very good job of keeping us appraised of the situation of the day every day even if it's an email saying that there is no news. He's keeping us up to date. I've been paying close attention to the PA calls and I've been in touch with some of the guys on the Return to Play committee so trying to get a better idea of where we're headed, but it seems like other sports are starting to open up and set dates for a return so I hope that means we won't be far behind. In that sense I'm optimistic and, like I said, I'm ready to go at a moment's notice.