Finishing strong hasn’t exactly been the Toronto Maple Leafs’ strong suit the last couple years, but Phil Kessel told the Canadian Press that the 2014-15 season will be different.
The 26-year-old sniper definitely rues that season-ending stretch in which they only won two of their last 14 games, claiming that they “won’t go through one of those again.”
“We don’t have that stretch, we’re right in it,” Kessel said. “This year we made some good additions and I think we improved as a team, and we’re going to be ready to go.”
It’s certainly been a tumultuous offseason for Toronto, although many of the key figures and players remain in the fold. Then again, depth is becoming a key difference-maker in the NHL, so perhaps the Leafs’ offseason tweaks can help them avoid big losing streaks next time.
Kessel was at the Rexall Centre for the Rogers Cup on Sunday, giving him a chance to play ball hockey with Roger Federer of all people, as you can see from his Instagram feed:
Hey, maybe Kessel can take a few tips on putting away pesky opponents from one of tennis’ all-time greats?
From the Southampton Press:
Sean Avery, the former National Hockey League player, was arrested by Southampton Village Police last week on two criminal charges.
According to authorities, Mr. Avery was arrested September 30 following a routine traffic stop on Jennings Avenue in the village at about 4:09 p.m. He was charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief and two counts of seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, all misdemeanors.
Police said the criminal mischief charge involved an incident the day before, when Mr. Avery allegedly threw objects at passing vehicles.
As for those counts of possession, according to the newspaper, Avery was found to have “two prescription drugs, acetaminophen with oxycodone and roxicodone.”
He was released on $500 bail and ordered to appear in court at a later date.
Did we mention he’s supposed to get married this weekend?
Pavel Zacha was this close to making his NHL debut.
Just days prior to opening their season against the Jets, the Devils returned Zacha — the sixth overall pick at this year’s draft — back to his junior club in OHL Sarnia.
The move comes after Zacha, 18, impressed throughout training camp and the preseason. He appeared in four exhibition games for New Jersey, scoring one point while endearing himself to the organizational brass, coaching staff and players.
“He understands the game. He plays with a maturity. It’s crazy to think an 18-year-old coming out of high school is up here and playing with the maturity and understanding of the game with the new system,” Kyle Palmieri told NJ.com. “I think he’s got a lot of raw talent there as a power forward. He’s got the body for it, the puck-handling skills and the nose for the net.”
At 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, Zacha has the frame and physical stature to play at the NHL level, and looked the part for long stretches of the exhibition season, getting turns on New Jersey’s top line.
The decision to send him back to junior is probably the right one, however.
Zacha only turned 18 in April and has limited experience even at the OHL level; ’14-15 was his first year with Sarnia, though he did appear in 38 Czech League games (for Liberec) the season prior.