Paul Maurice had his first look at the Maple Leafs on television this month, and no, wiseguy, he didn't think he had flicked on Lost, Deadwood or Cold Squad by mistake.
Through studying the video and holding some informal chats with players, the new Toronto coach can sense some pieces starting to fit, from potential linemates for Mats Sundin, to quicker forwards, to the best candidates on a crowded blueline.
Maurice compared the Leafs tapes to watching the Carolina Hurricanes-Edmonton Oilers Stanley Cup final.
"The reason Carolina and Edmonton are in the final, especially Carolina, is that the players move as five guys on the ice," Maurice said yesterday at Woodbine Racetrack, where he was drawmaster for the North America Cup harness race.
"You don't know the names on the back of the jerseys of those two teams, but that's my scope, that's what I'm interested in. I'm really hopeful that with a change in style, a couple of (Leafs) will excel.
"Some will adapt, some will fall off, but it's the game you're seeing now. The 1-2-2 is slowly being squeezed out by a two-man neutral zone (forecheck). It's all transition and speed. It's more a game like my first two years of junior hockey with a forecheck system similar to the Marlies last year (when he coached in the American Hockey League).
"We'll play the game we think we have to play in order to win, do everything to make our players play that game or get some players who can."
LINEMATES FOR SUNDIN
Rather than rely on general manager John Ferguson getting the perfectly suited free agent after July 1, Maurice wondered if an in-house solution could be found to boost Sundin's productivity.
"I've heard a lot people say: 'We have to get someone who can put the puck in the net for Mats,' " Maurice said.
"Well, the other way to see it is, can someone give the puck to Mats? He has a pretty fine shot. We might find an existing player to fill that role. We might not know his name yet."
But at this point, Maurice has neither a stud defenceman nor a No. 1 goaltender, with Bryan McCabe's multi-year contract hitting a snag and questions regarding the ability of Jean-Sebastien Aubin and Mikael Tellqvist to replace Ed Belfour.
"There is lots of time to do those things," Maurice said. "Tomas Kaberle is a very strong defenceman and when you look at the game the way is played now, there's no reason he won't step into that role, be more involved in the rush and do some of those (McCabe-type) things."