Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Training Camp, Ceci, Matthews

This post will not stress Mitch Marner’s on-going negotiations with the Toronto Maple Leafs. There’s more going on around the organization than Marner; and, in this post, I want to share some of that news.

Related: Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Marner, Nylander, Tavares, Depth Signings

Item One: The Maple Leafs Will Soon Be Entering Paradise

On Aug. 23, the Maple Leafs released their training camp details. The team’s fans who live around St. John’s, Newfoundland, are in for a treat. And, it’s mostly free. The training camp will open its doors on Friday, Sept. 13, at the Paradise Double Ice Complex. For those who don’t know eastern Newfoundland, Paradise is a town of just over 20,000 people about 20 minutes west of St. John’s.

Toronto Maple Leafs Auston Matthews EA Sports NHL 20
Toronto Maple Leafs centre Auston Matthews shoots the puck in in a screenshot from EA Sports NHL 20 game. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO – EA Sports)

Any fans who hope to go to an event during training camp must get a ticket, but those tickets are free. The only exception is a preseason game against the Ottawa Senators on Sept. 17 that’s already sold out.

In the schedule listed below, the training camp opens doors at 10 am on Friday, Sept. 13. Fans can get tickets at the arena starting about 8 am. As I noted, the tickets are free but they are limited.

All the events on the schedule are open to the public, including the Leafs Alumni Game on Sunday, Sept. 15 at the Mile One Centre in downtown St. John’s. In that game, the Leafs Alumni will play Canadian Forces Station St. John’s. Former Maple Leafs players on the alumni team include Wendel Clark, Doug Gilmour, Rick Vaive, Darcy Tucker, and others. 

Related: Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Gardiner, Kerfoot, Rielly, Schmaltz

Here’s a look at the recently-released schedule:

Date Public Access Timing Details
Friday, Sept. 13 Yes (free ticket required) Doors: 10 am,
Timing: 10:30 am-1:00 pm
Practice and scrimmage
Paradise Double Ice Complex
Saturday, Sept. 14 Yes (free ticket required) Doors: 10 am, Timing: 10:30 am-1:00 pm Practice and scrimmage (Paradise Double Ice Complex)
Sunday, Sept. 15 Yes (free ticket required) Doors: 10 am, Timing: 10:30 am-1:00 pm Practice and scrimmage (Paradise Double Ice Complex)
Sunday, Sept. 15 Yes Timing: 12:00 pm-3:00 pm Sobeys Community BBQ (Paradise Double Ice Complex)
Sunday, Sept. 15 Yes (free ticket required) Doors: 6:00 pm, Game Start: 7:00 pm Leafs Alumni Game (Mile One Centre)
Tuesday, Sept. 17 Yes (purchased ticket required) Doors: 6:00 pm, Game Start: 7:00 pm Toronto Maple Leafs vs Ottawa Senators preseason game (Mile One Centre)

Item Two: Cody Ceci Files Statement of Defense in $8.6M Lawsuit

In the kind of “regular-person” news that makes fans remember hockey players have lives outside the rink, Cody Ceci has been in the news for an accident that happened at his Ottawa home in 2018.

Cody Ceci
New Maple Leafs player Cody Ceci (photo: Amy Irvin)

For Maple Leafs fans who haven’t heard, when recently-added defenseman Ceci still resided in Ottawa, a woman at a party he hosted was burned in an outdoor oven accident when Ceci’s partner tried to refill a fireplace burner but squirted flaming liquid on the victim. The woman brought suit against Ceci and his partner because of injuries suffered from her burns.

Related: Maple Leafs 2018-19 Report Cards: Morgan Reilly

Earlier this week, Ceci filed a statement of defense against the woman’s $8.6-million lawsuit. Although the accident was beyond unfortunate, Ceci and his partner denied they were negligent in any way for the accident. More to come.

Item Three: Is Matthews Interviewing to Become Captain?

Auston Matthews is clearly saying the right things publicly, but reading between the lines makes it pretty clear that he would like to be the next captain of the Maple Leafs. Specifically, Matthews was quoted in an Aug. 23r Sportsnet article as saying:

“I’m going into my fourth year in this league and fourth year in this organization. Every year, I think I have grown more as a person and as a player. I have more of a voice in the locker room and sometimes guys look up to me for my opinion.”

Toronto Maple Leafs Auston Matthews
Toronto Maple Leafs’ Auston Matthews, Centennial Classic (Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports)

He added, “You can always take a step forward, and that area, leadership, is an area where I want to take a step forward and I think the staff and organization wants that, too. But whether I wear a letter – whether it’s a C or an A or nothing — I don’t think it will change what I do, what I’m like, my personality and how I approach the game.”

He sounds like someone who’s throwing his desires against the wall to see if they happen to stick. There’s no doubt Matthews thinks he’s ready to take on the role and become the public “face” of this historic franchise. He also clearly outlined what the captaincy means to the team and the public, pointing out the captains’ banners lined up in the team’s practice rink and noting what former captains did in the community.

In short, he seems to understand the honor of the role and can elaborate aspects of the job that role entails. There’s no disrespect from me when I suggest that it sounds as if he’s in the midst of a job interview where he’s both asking and answering the questions.

Related: Is Matthews the Best Maple Leafs Center Ever?

His proactive comments, in my mind, represent the kind of leader the Maple Leafs need – someone who’s willing to reach out and take the job. Personally, I’m a bit surprised by Matthews’ assertiveness. I actually thought John Tavares would step up.

This summer, for example, it seemed as if Tavares had assumed the public voice of the organization with the Maple Leafs fans, going out of his way to soothe concerns fans had about Marner’s negotiations. However, beyond that, Tavares hasn’t been at all assertive about the job. Although he was a captain with the New York Islanders, I’m guessing he doesn’t want the job in Toronto.

John Tavares
Toronto Maple Leafs center John Tavares (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Morgan Rielly, who did an excellent job with the public in the wake of the homophobic comments heard on the ice during a game this spring, has also been quiet about any formal leadership position. I’m guessing his silence on the topic tells fans what they need to know.

Prior to this offseason’s protracted contract negotiations, I was on record suggesting that the Maple Leafs make Marner the next captain. I’ve since changed my mind. I think fans have soured on him, and many have come to believe that he believes his needs are more important than the teams. That might change, but perhaps not quickly.

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Matthews, on the other hand, seems to be staking his claim. For what it’s worth, that settles it for me. I hope the Maple Leafs make him captain.

What’s Next?

It was nice, for a change, not to dwell on Marner during a post. Sure, he’s always in the background, and it would be remiss not to mention that his signing – or not – is the last key piece for the Maple Leafs in putting their team’s roster together.

We’ll see what happens with that sometime – although who knows when?