BOSTON -- Life in the big city, not to mention the NHL, can be a huge adjustment for a freshly turned 19-year-old and the Maple Leafs are determined not to mess up Luke Schenn on or off the ice.
So coach Ron Wilson was speaking like a proud parent yesterday when he reported that the team's first-round pick in the 2008 draft has added six pounds of muscle since training camp.
"He's eating right and lifting weights and he's getting stronger," Wilson said prior to last night's game against the Bruins. "A lot of guys regress as they get worn down but we've been right on top of him, making sure he gets his rest."
With the help of the team's coaching and support staff, the Leafs have monitored all aspects of Schenn's introduction to pro hockey, from ice time, to workout regimen, to lifestyle choices. Listed at 6-foot-2, 216 pounds, Schenn has shown little wear and tear through his first month and change in the bigs.
The Saskatoon native, who has played in all 14 Leafs games to date, celebrated his 19th birthday this past Sunday, less than a week after the team decided he wouldn't be returning to his junior team in Kelowna any time soon.
Schenn's transition to the pros hasn't been helped by the fact that the Leafs have had a hectic travel schedule for the first month of the season, part of the reason he lives in a downtown Toronto hotel.
"It seems like ever since we started we've been playing three or four games a week so there's no time," said Schenn, who once again was in Wilson's starting lineup last night.
NO PLACE LIKE HOME
"I'd like to get my own place, but I don't mind (living in the hotel).
"The main thing is just trying to learn how to get some rest around here."
Under Wilson, he needs it. Schenn has been a workhorse, averaging 21 minutes and 27 seconds prior to last night. His duty has included ice time killing penalties and late in the game and it appears Wilson has no plans on pulling back.
While several defenceman much Schenn's senior have been healthy scratches, Schenn has been in Wilson's lineup every night.
The prized rookie has yet to score and has just one assist but he is second on the team in ice time, behind fellow defenceman Tomas Kaberle.
"The other night he played 25 (minutes)," Wilson said. "We figure he should be a 25-minute man so we have to monitor him off ice and create good habits right off the bat. If you can help a guy (at a young age), it's a habit for life."