If it looks like P-A Parenteau is having a great time at training camp, it’s because he feels like he can carve out a prominent role with the Maple Leafs.
“It’s been great, I feel like I have my confidence back of a year, year and a half ago. That’s how I feel on the ice. I feel like I’m in my place here.”
Parenteau hasn’t been shy about his falling out in Montreal. Philosophical disagreements with the coaching style, combined with some injury trouble, had Parenteau looking elsewhere this past off-season. That’s where Toronto presented him with an opportunity to show what he can do.
“The coaching staff knows what I can do with the puck and without the puck, too,” said Parenteau following Thursday’s practice. “It’s been a good training camp for me so far, hopefully I can fit in with the boys.”
Parenteau is new to the Leafs and a large portion of the team is new by default. While there have been a few coaches to come through Toronto over the years, the Leaf mainstays are finding out just how different things are this time around.
“I like that we’ve been doing a lot of systems stuff, which we haven’t done that much in the past in camp,” said Leafs centre Tyler Bozak. “It’s been nice trying to get the new system down and you know the young guys and everyone is getting the hang of it.”
The change in Leafs head coach Mike Babcock’s approach has everybody starting from scratch. The level playing field is aiding the chip on Parenteau's shoulder as he looks to prove his doubters wrongs.
“It’s coming together, I don’t think there is a learning curve or anything,” said Parenteau. “I have enough experience now to know what is expected of me. I think things could be good for me here. I know what I can do, I know I can help this team offensively, a lot, a lot more than people think, too. So I’m planning on doing so.”
Parenteau got off on the right foot in his first pre-season game, netting a pair of goals in a 4-1 win over the Ottawa Senators. At age 32, his leadership presence could be the difference that has him play a prominent role with the Leafs.
“I need to be a leader for this team. I’m planning on doing that. There are a lot of young forwards here who remind me of me when I was younger. They have a lot to learn in their own end and in their defensive end. I think I can help and gives tips here and there.”