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U.S. tragedy shocks Leafs and delays camp

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
by Matt Akler


The tragic series of events in the United States on Tuesday had far-reaching effects that impacted the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The team conducted its medical and fitness testing at Air Canada Centre in the morning and was scheduled to fly to St. John's, Nfld. to start training camp in the afternoon, but that flight was cancelled due to air travel restrictions. The team was literally in a holding pattern trying to figure out where to go next.

However, it wasn't the activities of the team that were of greatest concern but rather numerous family members and friends of the players who are in the States.

"It's pretty scary and everything else is trivial," said Shayne Corson. "Everything else is not important. A lot of guys are just in shock. I still can't believe it can happen. It was like watching a movie. All of us have thoughts and prayers with the people down in the States."

While talking of family, Corson has his own relative on the team, brother-in-law Darcy Tucker.

"I think our families now may worry any time we're on the road," said Tucker. "The number one priority is family. It's more scary than anything that something like this can happen. Hopefully everything will be alright."

In a great crisis like this, NHL players become ever the more like regular folk who sit in shock at the horrors in front of them.

"It's hard to believe. We've just all been glued to the TV," said Curtis Joseph. "We're supposed to be having our medical and fitness testing but every time you turn around there is more stuff on the TV. It's a sad day."

With air transport shut down the Leafs travel schedule was still not known after all the players were done their testing.

"I wouldn't want to be flying today. Personally, I think we'd want to wait," added Joseph. "But we're anxious to get back to work at camp and get ready for the season."

Some players with international backgrounds had different perspectives on the situation. Robert Reichel had just flown in to Toronto last night and would have thought twice to make such a trip in the aftermath of the disaster. Mikael Renberg's family is in Sweden and even though they are an ocean away he still feared for their safety.

"I talked to my family back home but they're safe in Sweden," he said. "And everybody here is kind of shocked. I can't believe this can happen. There's a lot of bad people out there. I guess that's all you can say."

If the Leafs decide to commence training camp in Toronto some players will find it difficult to get ready since their equipment was sent early to St. John's.

"Some players have their practice gear and some have their game uniforms," said team spokesman Pat Park. "But we're making contingency plans to skate in Toronto tomorrow."

As difficult as it could be, some players thoughts returned to work on the ice and the effects of the day's tragedies on the team itself.

"Some younger guys were supposed to head out earlier today but they weren't allowed to leave," said Tucker. "Training camp is short this year and there is less chance for people to show what they've got."

But the images shown across television screens will linger for everyone, including those who play games for a living.

"We all feel for what's going on and maybe we're not quite as focussed as we should be, but we do have jobs to do," Corson said somberly.

Those jobs allow fans to get away from the realities of everyday life, realities that were more grim today than ever before.
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