There’s this old joke. It’s about a guy who is a veterinarian/taxidermist.
His card reads: “Either way you get your dog back.”
And so it is for 18-year-old Luke Schenn
, the Leafs first choice, fifth overall, in this year’s NHL entry draft.
Schenn is at Hockey Canada’s Junior National Team Evaluation Camp in Ottawa.
The camp is a prelude to this winter’s tournament, slated for Ottawa. Last year in the Czech Republic, Canada won its fourth consecutive title with Schenn thriving as a classic stay-at-home defenceman.
It figures to be a happy winter for Schenn. If he catches on with the Leafs, Schenn immediately begins accruing NHL experience and an NHL paycheck. But if he goes back to junior with the Kelowna Rockets, that means a return to the Canadian junior program and a low-key environment in which to learn. For him, a mid-summer camp is perfect.
“It feels good to see the guys again, but mostly it’s exciting just to get the chance to really skate. You might only skate once or twice a week in the summer but we’ve had some games and some pretty tough practices. This has been a great chance to get my legs back.”
The Leafs’ blueline has grown more cluttered with newcomers. Free agent Jeff Finger
signed with the Leafs and the team is working out a contract offer for Swedish rearguard Jonas Frogren. Bryan McCabe is under contract but will likely not return but the club retains Tomas Kaberle, Pavel Kubina, Anton Stralman, Ian White and Carlo Colaiacovo.
Who knows what awaits Luke Schenn
but his conservative game means his learning curve would be less than that of an offensive defenceman learning to curb his impulses.
“I think whatever I will be doing next year, I’ll be in a good situation. Being in the NHL would be great but if I am back in junior, I will be looking at playing in the World Juniors again. Anytime you get the chance to wear the Team Canada jersey and get the chance to compete for a gold medal, there’s no feeling like it.”