Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Tavares, Kapanen & Conacher

In this edition of Toronto Maple Leafs’ News & Rumors, I’ll share some recent news that John Tavares self-reported himself to be ready for the upcoming Maple Leafs’ training camp. 

Second, I’ll look at an older story out of Pittsburgh where former Maple Leafs’ forward Kasperi Kapanen vaguely suggested that he’s enjoying life with the Penguins more than he did with the Maple Leafs because he feels he fits there. Specifically, Kapanen noted that there was “a certain group of guys” that he didn’t feel comfortable with. 

Related: Toronto Maple Leafs’ Nic Petan’s Personal Story of Tragedy and Charity

Finally, I’ll share what I believe is an interesting historical statistic that suggests how NHL hockey has changed and evolved over the years.  

Item One: John Tavares Says He’s Ready For Training Camp

On Thursday in an interview with NHL Network, John Tavares reported that he was “doing fantastic.” Specifically, he noted that he’s completely healed from both the concussion and the knee injury that he suffered during Game 1 of the playoff series with the Montreal Canadiens. Tavares expects to be completely ready for training camp. 

John Tavares Toronto Maple Leafs
John Tavares, Toronto Maple Leafs (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Tavares noted that “It’s been a great offseason for myself from a health standpoint.” He also noted that having some time off really helped. He believed he was really fortunate that the injury “wasn’t anything much more than the incident and [I] really came out of the hospital doing really well ever since, and didn’t really have any hiccups or any issues. Just kind of kept building from there. So it’s been a good offseason and I’m doing great. The support from the hockey community has been tremendous.” 

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Tavares added that he has been engaged in informal on-ice workouts, which for him “was nice to just kind of get back out and work on some things I wanted to work on … with a good group of guys.”

Finally, Tavares shared that he was inspired by teammate Auston Matthews’  comments last week to ESPN. During that interview, Matthews predicted that the Maple Leafs “we’re going to get it done.” Although he didn’t say it specifically, most people interpreted Matthews comments as suggesting the Maple Leafs would win the Stanley Cup.

Tavares reported that he loved what Matthews said and added, “We go out there and play to win. And you believe in yourself, you believe in your group and your team. And I think we’ve shown many great things in my time here over my first three years and obviously we’ve had some really tough endings to our season, but we’ve just got to keep knocking and banging on that door until we knock it down.”

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Like Matthews, Tavares added “we’re going to find a way to break that door down and get to where we want to get to.”

Item Two: Who Was Kasperi Kapanen Speaking About on the Maple Leafs?

In researching this past week, I came across a comment by Kasperi Kapanen made a couple of months ago that I had missed. The original article had noted that Kapanen felt he had found a home with the Pittsburgh Penguins, which was something that never really happened in Toronto.

Kasperi Kapanen Pittsburgh Penguins
Kasperi Kapanen, now with the Pittsburgh Penguins (Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Kapanen suggested that his “fit” with the Penguins was different from his experience in Toronto. Specifically, Kapanen noted, “I was in Toronto before this. A great place to be, but I never really felt this comfortable, ever, with a certain group of guys. I’m just very lucky to be here and enjoy it with these guys right now…Just a great group of guys kind of welcoming me in.” (from “Penguins forward Kasperi Kapanen finds a ‘home’,” Seth Rorabaugh, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 29/05/21).

The comment makes me wonder what group of guys with the team he was talking about.

Item Three: Charlie Conacher: The Only Maple Leafs’ “Goalie” To Score a Goal

At one time during NHL history, when a goalie was given a penalty, he served his own penalties. If a goalie was injured during a game, a regular player was assigned to replace that goalie in the net. Charlie Conacher was a right-winger, but he played three games in goal for the Maple Leafs.

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During those games that Conacher actually played goal, and he scored three goals. As a result, he’s the only Maple Leafs’ goalie to be credited with scoring a goal in franchise history.

What’s Next for the Maple Leafs?

It’s been two weeks and a day since Matthews’ wrist surgery was announced, but there’s been not a hint of news since then. I looked again today because I had read and posted comments from Matthews’ recent ESPN interview. 

Related: Chara to the Maple Leafs Rumor Is a Non-Starter

I just find it strange that there’s been no talk about it – nothing. I’ve seen no questions about the surgery or what happened to necessitate it. I’m not trying to say anything other than I find it odd.

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