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JVR on his off-season, last season and Babcock

by Chris Lund / Toronto Maple Leafs

Leafs forward James van Riemsdyk joined Toronto's Sportsnet 590 The FAN on the phone from his off-season home in Minnesota on Wednesday to talk about last season, his off-season and the Leafs coaching change. You can hear the full audio version of the interview HERE.

Here's what he had to say...

On the need to have a serious approach to training to play in the League:

Oh yeah, you have to if you want to play in the League a long time. That part's not optional... Again, I enjoy it but it's part of being a professional athlete nowadays. Everybody is looking for an edge and that comes with that. You want to be up-to-date and top notch on your training approaches and stuff like that. That's all part of being a successful athlete.

On the type of training he dislikes the most:

I think for me it's the part I probably need to do the most but it can be tedious, it's the stretching. As a taller guy — and my dad's nickname was 'Stiff' and I think he may have passed that nickname to me unknowingly so it's tough. That's something you've got to work at and, again, there's no cheating around putting time in for that too. It can make a big difference but it can be a little tedious at times.

On Mike Babcock:

His resume speaks for itself. You've seen the Olympic gold medals, the Stanley Cup, the success they've had in Detroit when he has been at the helm there. We haven't had the years we've wanted the last couple here. This is hopefully a step in the right direction for us where year-in, year-out we're competing to win a championship.

On if he has talked to his teammates about the hire:

Oh yeah, there's a lot of intrigue — especially when you're playing in Toronto — about what's going to happen and what's going on. Guys are excited. When the year ends the way it ended for us last year, you're mad, you're upset, you want to basically get right back at it. It's part of the process now getting back into training and getting yourself ready for next year but there is a lot of excitement because we definitely didn't have the year we wanted to have last year.

On where last season went wrong:

Obviously with last year and how it didn't go the way we wanted it to, you have to kind of — you can make yourself way too frustrated if you don't give yourself a chance after the year to process everything. Maybe you pick on something that you want to change to make sure stuff like that doesn't happen again. For whatever reason we just kind of — it kind of snowballed on us. I thought for the first half of the year we did a lot of good things and then the wheels started falling off and we couldn't get it back on track. We'll all have to look in the mirror this summer and come back in September and hopefully be better for it.

On if he's a better frame of mind than at the end of the season:

There's a lot of excitement. When things don't go your way you're itching to get back in there and get back at it and start working towards something right away. Again, you've got to have that balance at the end of the day where you can let go and assess things and decompress a little bit, but we're all itching to get back and get back at it.

On if he has heard from Babcock:

Yeah, that's usually how it goes when you have a new coach. They'll usually reach out just to put a voice to the name and say 'Hi' or just to check in. He's excited as we all are to start building something.

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