September 27, 2006
(Toronto) - After another hard training camp skate the Leafs were released to spend a relaxed afternoon on the golf course at their annual tournament in support of the Leafs Fund.
"It's a nice little team builder because we've been going at a pretty good pace here and we haven't had a lot of time to spend relaxed time together so it is very nice to be here," said head coach Paul Maurice.
And the weather couldn't have been more perfect - another plus to the afternoon for Maurice.
"You know it's funny that I worry about those kinds of things because if it's too cold you get guys sick, if it's too hot they get worn down and it's absolutely perfect here today."
The tournament raised about $70,000 for the Leafs Fund, the team's charitable arm that helps organizations who are improving the lives of children by providing access to sports and recreation opportunities.
"It's been a really heavy schedule for them this year so it's nice for them to take the time out and come," said Jen Millard, manager of the Leafs Fund. "They're really nice to come out and give us a whole day of their time."
So how did the golf games go? A tournament rookie Hal Gill had a mixed day, hitting for birdie with his group, but was found scouring the bushes for his ball
"Every hole is different you know and we're trying to get a good look at this golf course from every angle," said Gill with a grin. "They're (his team) a bunch of hackers but we had a good time."
Then there was Wade Belak and his team. On the third hole Belak drove for about three hundred yards but the good shots became further apart throughout the day.
"We're struggling right now. I think we've only had one birdie since I've joined the team," said Belak. "I think I burned my forehead too but other than that I'm having a good time."
The coach's day seemed to be going well with a great approach shot from a nine-iron hitting the pin, but that particular hole didn't end the way he had hoped.
"It was really good except we couldn't sink the putt," said Maurice. "So it's like having a great forecheck with being able to get the puck to the net."
A fate he hopes to stay away from this season.
With the entire team spread out over the 27 holes of Glencairn Golf Club the Leafs didn't get to see a lot of each other but they made the best of it when the opportunity arose.
"I haven't seen much of my team mates but I hear them heckling me every once in a while so it's good," said Gill. "It's a good time for us to come out and relax a little bit."
With the players enjoying the afternoon of sunshine it was easy for all the golfers to relax and chat with their on-ice heroes up close and personal - a trade mark of the popular annual event.