Back to work

JODY VANCE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:23 AM ET

On Monday you will find me at the rink.

I've missed the rink.

Getting back to work after almost a year away will be strange -- getting up to speed will be a bit more of a challenge than in years gone by.

Something tells me the program sales will be going through the roof at the ACC for game one of the pre-season as fans in the stands try to follow along with so many new names on the ice.

Nothing has changed with the Toronto Maple Leafs for so long, each fall was more family reunion than training camp for some.

That culture is gone.

Something had to give after three years finishing out of the playoffs -- perhaps that comfortable culture was at the root of some players deeming themselves untouchable.

As a result of major off season restructuring by GM Cliff Fletcher there will be a huge learning curve for everyone when the puck drops.

Players will need to learn their line-mates, coaches learning players, fans learning their team etc.

There is something exciting about that.

A fresh start all around -- even if expectations are being tempered.

GM Cliff Fletcher threw down the gauntlet last week when he spoke out about the rough days ahead for his hockey club. I say this is genius.

What motivates more than a direct challenge?

The relatively unknown Jeff Finger is unlikely to spend much time counting his millions and instead spend extra time on conditioning with an eye on proving his boss wrong. In doing so, he'd prove to a city that spending big on him was brilliant.

If one needs something comforting to hold onto this season, a familiar face, he's there -- like he never left -- look to the bench and Curtis Joseph.

Monday will be a big day for new beginnings. Monday you will find me on the desk at gate 1, hoping to keep all the new names straight -- if I don't I will just claim mommy-brain.

-- Jody Vance is a sportscaster and personality with Leafs TV. Her columns appear Tuesdays and Thursdays in 24 hours.


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