Leafs' rookies to play in London

JONATHAN SHER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:17 PM ET

Toronto is sending something other than its trash to London.

Instead of a convoy of garbage trucks a busload of Maple Leafs rookies eager to show why they can make a difference in the NHL will be making its way down the 401 to the Forest City.

The Toronto Maple Leafs announced Monday theyll host a rookie tournament Sept. 11-14 at the John Labatt Centre, an event that will include players from the Ottawa Senators, Pittsburgh Penguins and cup-hoisting Chicago Blackhawks.

Were expecting a really strong response (from ticket buyers), said Brian Ohl, the JLCs general manager.

Hockey fans will see top talent from recent drafts while Leafs fans will get a glimpse of youngsters they hope will restore glory days, Ohl said.

The rookies tourney marks a strengthening of what once was a faltering relationship between one of minor hockeys most successful arenas with an NHL team thats fallen short of expectations for decades. In 2004 the Maple Leafs iced plans to hold their training camp in London after The Free Press broke the news the JLC was the frontrunner sources said then-GM John Ferguson was upset the news was leaked.

This year the Leafs will come to the JLC Sept. 23 to face the Eastern Conference champion Philadelphia Flyers in a preseason game, the second such game in two years.

And Tourism London head John Winston is hopeful the rookies tournament will return in future years.

Were really ecstatic about the tournament, he said.

Scheduled to attend the rookie tournament for the Maple Leafs is forward Nazem Kadri, who was Torontos first choice, selected seventh overall, at the 2009 Entry Draft. Kadri registered 93 points (35 goals, 58 assists) in 56 games last season for the London Knights. Other notables on the Leafs projected rookie tournament roster include defenceman Jesse Blacker, Keith Aulie and Simon Gysbers, and newly signed goaltenders Jussi Rynnas and Ben Scrivens.

Tickets go on sale 10 a.m. Friday at the JLC by phone at (866) 455-2849 or online at www.johnlabattcentre.com.

Ticket prices for evening games are $19.25 for adults or $14.25 for students, seniors and children and a few dollars less for day games.

jonathan.sher@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/jsherLFPRESS


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