Leafs’ Patrick Marleau, 39, ‘can skate just like the wind’

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NIAGARA FALLS — Patrick Marleau can’t actually recall a birthday not spent at an NHL coaching camp.

However he hasn’t made it to age 39 — and 21 NHL seasons — overdoing it on cake and ice cream. Now, the Maple Leafs’ medical marvel is coming into a very powerful part of a profession, one that also lacks a Stanley Cup. The ultimate two years of his contract are with a Toronto crew hell-bent on a title, with Marleau beginning 2018/’19 on a line with Auston Matthews and every time he indicators, William Nylander.

Matthews is just not fairly but 21 and Nylander’s 22, fairly a technology hole in comparison with Marleau’s beginning certificates, however there’s no distinction on the ice when Marleau begins to locomote.

“I higher get on his exercise program,” Matthews stated in admiration. “It’s like he’s not even respiratory on the market and nothing fazes him. He’s 39, he can nonetheless fly and it appears he’s getting sooner.”

Genetics, avoiding accidents and plyometrics (muscle extension workouts) hold Marleau on monitor to cross Ray Bourque for

10th in NHL video games performed early this season.

“I nonetheless get pleasure from it — one of many causes it has been capable of persist with me so long as it has,” Marleau stated.

“I’ve at all times been good at (skating), so these workouts within the low season, plyometrics and issues like that, show you how to.

“I can’t sit nonetheless too lengthy. These (youthful Leafs) are at all times going so it retains me going. Issues have come a good distance in restoration away from the rink. Once I first got here in (Oct. 1, 1997 with San Jose) it was sort of frowned upon to be on the coaching desk. Now it’s welcome, it permits gamers to play longer.”

Marleau thinks like a younger man, too, with 4 boys at house and lots of impressionable Leafs on the workplace. Matthews,

Mitch Marner and others are generally invited to the home for a boisterous play day.

“Once they come over, they get (his youngsters) wound up fairly good,” laughed Marleau. “These guys know tips on how to flip it off, however I’ve hassle getting mine to calm down.

Marleau does his finest to remain present with tendencies of immediately’s NHLers.

“The music factor is OK, however I believe being on the cellphone after the sport and (video), issues like which have gotten to a brand new stage.”

Marleau excelled with Nazem Kadri as his centre final yr, however a motivated Matthews and Nylander or, within the quick time period, Tyler Ennis or Kasperi Kapanen on the suitable facet, could be dymamite. Particularly if the opposition is gassed chasing down John Tavares’s line or Kadri’s. Marleau and Matthews had some powerplay time collectively final yr.

“He’s very particular; how huge he’s, how effectively he strikes and skates, having the puck and getting it again,” Marleau stated of Matthews. “Similar to Mitch, he steals a variety of pucks. When the opposite crew thinks it’s going the opposite approach, he can get that puck again, get these odd-man rushes and get these probabilities. He sees the ice very well and has that cannon of a shot. It is going to be good to feed him just a few so he can put it behind the online.”

Marleau was named an alternate captain for this season with Morgan Rielly and Tavares, however thinks these and not using a letter will shortly develop into management roles.

“Younger gamers are in all probability given extra accountability early. However the talent stage they’re coming in with now could be actually excessive. So much is predicted of them early on they usually’re given the ice time. Perhaps that’s the best way it must be, when you’ve got that talent stage, allow them to shine.”

Marleau’s line, with Ennis, might make its debut this week when the Leafs have 4 exhibition video games.

“It’s sort of loopy to assume that his first yr within the league, myself and Mitch had been simply a few months outdated,” Matthews stated. “That’s a sworn statement to him and the best way he’s handled his physique. He can skate just like the wind and that’s immediately’s sport.”

DECISIONS FOR BABCOCK

Two days and two low-scoring scrimmage video games into coaching camp, Mike Babcock has tons to ponder however few pronouncements.

One intramural sport stays Sunday, then the Maple Leafs work out lineups for 4 exhibition video games this week, throughout or after which the 73-man roster will begin to be diminished.

“I don’t know a number of the solutions I’d prefer to know,” Babcock assessed Saturday. “We’ll take the entire (two and a half week camp) to seek out out. The competitors stage for jobs could be very excessive, there isn’t a lot to choose between gamers.

“A few guys I actually like are possibly smarter and higher skaters than I assumed, however we’ll attempt to not say something till I do know.”

New star John Tavares scored his first on Saturday, with a nifty help from Mitch Marner, whereas Josh Leivo and Andreas Johnsson, preventing for backside six jobs on wing, additionally clicked. Friday was additionally a 2-1 sport, gained by Auston Matthews in a shootout.

“With out Willy (Nylander), Matty’s group is just not fairly the identical, so we’ll have to determine one thing to make each (strains) go,” Babcock stated. “We wish all three strains, 4 for that matter, to be rolling. We’ll watch and study extra within the exhibitions.”

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