TORONTO – While others are reading the tea leaves for signs of a Roberto Luongo trade to Toronto, Leafs coach Randy Carlyle seems blissfully unaware.
“I haven’t even watched them,” he said Tuesday when asked about incumbent goalies James Reimer and Ben Scrivens. “To tell you the truth, that’s (goaltending coach) Rick St. Croix’s decision right now. He’s working with them. I take his input and I don’t focus specifically on the goaltenders.
“Yes I watch if they’re letting every puck in. But for their technique and where they are, I get that feedback from him. He spends a lot more time with them and focusing on them. What I try to do is focus on our team game and our team play. Obviously they’re part of our team and you do recognize it but I don’t focus on specifically on them.”
And as he did last season, Carlyle reminded reporters that they wouldn’t get anything on his choice of starting goalie until game day.
“I never give the goaltender up. So you’ll have to come to the warmup. Don’t ever expect me to give you my starting goalie,” he said with a smile.
There was some drama at practice Tuesday as forwards James van Riemsdyk and Colton Orr left early after being hit by shots.
Orr went first, nursing a dislocated finger. Van Riemsdyk followed, leaving the practice rink gingerly with a bruised right foot courtesy of a Mike Komisarek shot.
With a condensed training camp and the season kicking off Saturday, injuries are more unwelcome than ever. But Carlyle seemed unfazed, despite the fact he was unsure if the injuries would sideline the two players.
There was probably just relief that van Riemsdyk, who broke his left foot last season with Philadelphia, had escaped a fracture. And Orr, a bruiser looking to show he still belongs on the team, is hardly a lynch pin.
The sun will rise Wednesday on Leaf Nation.
On the positive front, defenceman Jake Gardiner skated on his own before the main group of Leafs took the ice. Gardiner, a revelation on the blue-line last year, has been sidelined by a concussion sustained playing for the AHL Marlies.
“We told him if we have a chance for you to play Saturday, you’re going to have to get on the ice today. That’s the reality of it,” said Carlyle, who told Gardiner not to go out if he didn’t feel he was 100 per cent.
“He’s very, very close (to returning),” the coach added.
Defenceman Cody Franson also rejoined the Leafs after a stint in Sweden for Brynas during the NHL lockout. A restricted free agent, he had to sort out his contract situation before pulling on a Toronto jersey again.
The big blue-liner, who had five goals and 16 assists for the Leafs last season, took part in Tuesday’s practice, which started poorly before turning a turn for the better, according to Carlyle.
The coach called the start of practice the worst of the three sessions to date, in terms of execution.
“And we told them that. That our expectations are we have to be better than that when we step out on the ice,” said Carlyle. “There were a couple of drills that showed they were mentally tired.”
The Toronto coach wasn’t giving up much Tuesday, irked apparently that some local reporters had run too far with his earlier comments on Toronto forward Nazem Kadri, an analysis that had contained references to Anaheim’s Bobby Ryan.
Carlyle was pleased at his team’s work ethic.
“This team, in these three practices, has spent more time battling, and more time going into those tough areas and more time stopping in front of the net than I think they did the whole time I was here last year,” said Carlyle, who took over from Ron Wilson with 18 games remaining last season.
Toronto opens the season Saturday in Montreal.