Schenn ready to fight for a spot

Toronto Maple Leafs' Luke Schenn talks with media during training camp. (Ernest Doroszuk/QMI AGENCY)

Toronto Maple Leafs' Luke Schenn talks with media during training camp. (Ernest Doroszuk/QMI AGENCY)

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:13 PM ET

Luke Schenn had a busy summer commuting from Toronto to his home in Saskatoon to his junior hockey hangout in Kelowna, B.C.

And because it's Canada, he was never far away from stories about a certain hockey team that was stockpiling defencemen at the end of a fifth year out of the playoffs, the past two with Schenn in the lineup.

"Obviously, I've heard lots of talk that we have eight or nine good defencemen who can play," Schenn said Friday as he took his physical at Maple Leafs' training camp. "That's a good thing, you want the competition and obviously there is not room for everyone to play a ton of minutes. You really have to work for your ice time and prove yourself."

Mike Komisarek and Tomas Kaberle are going to be paired, leaving captain Dion Phaneuf and Francois Beauchemin and then it looks like a scramble with Schenn, Carl Gunnarsson, Brett Lebda and for now, Jeff Finger. After his surgically repaired shoulder is tested, the Leafs will also take a look at Keith Aulie, acquired in the Phaneuf trade, who shares Schenn's Saskatchewan birth certificate and is three inches taller at 6-foot-5.

But Schenn didn't sit still in the summer after a year most agree was a step back from a great rookie season when Wilson gave him a long leash. Partly because of injury, he didn't do as well in 2009-10.

So he hit the gym, worked out a lot with brother Brayden, a Los Angeles Kings' forward, skated with the Leafs a good part of August and came here a muscular 230 pounds, up from 214.

"I just took it upon myself to come to camp better this year," Schenn said. "Going into my third year, you know what to expect a bit more."

But even two years made him a Leaf oldtimer in the wake of a dressing room purge of veterans last year.

"There was a feature on the scoreboard at one of our final home games last season, top 10 games played by current Leafs. Me and Nikolai Kulemin were right up there. The turnover has been huge in the two years I've been here.

"Hopefully, we can turn this thing around when we hit the ground (Saturday)."


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