TORONTO – A familiar situation has never felt so different for Wayne Primeau.
The veteran forward has been attending NHL training camps for 15 years, but Friday was the first time he turned up at one without a contract. Primeau is in camp with the Toronto Maple Leafs on a professional tryout and hoping to find somewhere to continue his career.
He skated with members of the Leafs over the summer and received an invite from GM Brian Burke earlier this week.
“I figured, you know, I am here and it gives me the opportunity to continue to skate instead of skating by myself,” Primeau said Friday. “(I’ll) enjoy it and see where everything falls into place.”
It’s a bit of an uncomfortable situation. Primeau spent last season with the Maple Leafs, but has seen newcomer Mike Brown take his No. 18 sweater.
The 34-year-old will be in tough to crack the team’s lineup because the Leafs have a number of players with contracts who will be fighting for spots on the bottom two forward lines.
At the very least, Primeau is hoping to demonstrate to other NHL teams that he can still make a positive contribution.
“I’m skating at NHL-calibre (pace),” he said. “If there’s other teams that aren’t happy with their young guys or there’s injuries in training camp on other teams—or maybe this team—who knows? It might give me that opportunity to find a spot.”
Primeau thinks he can serve as a mentor in the dressing room. He’s appeared in 774 career NHL games and has a strong desire to continue playing.
“I enjoy being around the young guys, I like the kids here,” said Primeau. “I feel that I have some experience I can lend to the guys and hopefully they see that too.”