Colton Orr is ready to come out swinging when the Toronto Maple Leafs start the season.
The tough guy hasn’t played since suffering a concussion in a fight with Anaheim’s George Parros on Jan. 20, but indicated Friday he’s ready to play again. The 29-year-old hit his head on the ice during the fight with Parros and had trouble passing a baseline test afterwards.
“I was a rare case,” Orr said Friday. “A lot of my stuff showed up more in MRIs and cognitive testing, stuff like that, where I showed some results that weren’t as high as they should be. But after my rest and the summer they’ve come right back up.”
Orr isn’t worried about being back in the line of fire. He’s been fighting regularly since playing in the Western Hockey League a decade ago and makes no apologies for his role on the team.
“It’s my job and it’s a choice I make,” said Orr. “I love being in the NHL, I love playing and sticking up for my teammates. I’m just looking forward to coming back this season and to play again.”
Another Maple Leafs forward looking to return from a concussion is Matthew Lombardi. He played just two games for the Nashville Predators last season and has endured a trying recovery period.
The speedy centre originally thought he might miss a game or two but has now sat out 11 months.
“I was never at the point where I said ‘Geez, this is it for me,'” said Lombardi. “Things start to creep in. … The key is to be patient and that’s tough. I think that’s the toughest part—patience is hard.
“I don’t think I’m great with that.”
He’s still awaiting clearance to return to action. There’s a chance it will come before the regular-season opener against Montreal on Oct. 6.
“I’m almost there, but just not quite there yet,” said Lombardi.
ADS FOR SALE: The corporate success of the Maple Leafs has spread to an unlikely place.
Starting this season, a small Purolator logo will be featured in the top right hand side of the jerseys worn during practice. It’s the first time in team history ads have been placed there.
Calgary, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia and Tampa already sport logos on their practice jerseys.
The Leafs were quick to try and quell any speculation that ads will one day be featured on their game jerseys.
“That would be blasphemy!” vice-president Tom Anselmi said via Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment’s corporate Twitter account.
TEAM UNIT: A number of Maple Leafs have started hanging out with members of the Toronto Blue Jays and they owe their friendship to a somewhat unlikely common bond—Twitter.
In recent weeks, Leafs players Tyler Bozak, Colby Armstrong and Joffrey Lupul, among others, have spent time with young Blue Jays players J.P. Arrencibia and Brett Lawrie.
“It’s just pretty much anyone that has Twitter,” said Armstrong. “They’re awesome guys. I’ve never really known much about baseball or how the sport works. It’s kind of cool to get to know these guys and pick their brain about certain questions and hang out with them.
“They’re just great guys.”
CHEMISTRY CLASS: For a long time, fans in Toronto used to wonder who could play wing for Mats Sundin. Since the big Swede left town, the question has become who can play centre for Phil Kessel?
The answer for now is newly acquired Tim Connolly.
The two players met during informal skates over the past couple weeks and expect to take some time before finding comfort with one another on the team’s No. 1 line.
“It’s (got to happen) on the ice,” said Kessel. “We’ve got to get a feel for each in games and regular practice speed. Then you figure it out.”
Added Connolly: “If I’m paired up with him, I’ll just try and get him the puck as much (as I can).”
The 30-year-old spent the last eight seasons playing with the Buffalo Sabres and is still adjusting to life with a new team. There were plenty of introductions on the opening day of training camp.
“I still don’t know everybody’s nickname and everything yet,” said Connolly. “The more you see guys, the more you talk to guys, the easier it is. When you come in you’ve got to meet the management and all the staff and all the guys. It’s tough to remember everybody’s name, especially when everybody’s talking nicknames and lingo.”
LEFT? RIGHT?: After being acquired in a trade from Nashville over the summer, Cody Franson looked at the Leafs depth chart and figured he might need to make some changes.
The defenceman is a right-handed shot and has always lined up on the right side in his pairings. However, that could change in Toronto because Dion Phaneuf and Luke Schenn already occupy spots on that side of the ice and are almost certainly ahead of him in the rotation.
“I’ve never played the left side in my entire life,” said Franson. “I’ve been trying a little bit in scrimmages because we aren’t too sure what (the coaches) thought process is on pairings yet. The left side of the ice feels almost completely closed off.”