Caputi, D'Amigo strut their stuff

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:58 PM ET

Caputi and D’Amigo. No they’re not two competing ristorantes on Toronto’s Corso Italia, but the surnames of two young Maple Leafs competing for jobs, hoping to put a little gusto into the lineup.

Luca Caputi and Jerry D’Amigo were on opposite wings of the same line when scrimmages opened at the MasterCard Centre on Saturday and both caught the eye of coach Ron Wilson for different reasons.

Caputi, like many Leafs on strength coach Anthony Belza’s weight program, was 15 pounds heavier, but not at the expense of speed, while D’Amigo, at his first NHL camp, looked the worse for wear at the end of Day 1.

“I have to get up to this pace,” D’Amigo said. “I had the first 45-minute practice, then the (hour-long) game and coming off the V02 (endurance test) yesterday kind of got us. But that’s what it’s going to be like during the season, so I have to work myself into that and get my legs going.”

Caputi was picked 111th in 2007 by the Pittsburgh Penguins, but made it high enough up their ladder to be swapped for Alexei Ponikarovsky at the trade deadline. He had six points in 19 Leaf games last season, but was obscured when the Leafs went on a summer trade and signing binge of forwards and then D’Amigio wowed the club at the world junior tournament for Team USA.

The two found themselves together yesterday with centre John Mitchell, but their similar heritage helped them to hit it off right away.

“Just coincidence, but being Italian never hurt anyone,” the Toronto-born Caputi said with a wink. “If we speak Italian on the faceoff, no one will know what’s going on. I’m pretty fluent in it, but he’s, you know, an American.

“But he’s a good kid with a bright future. He can make plays, he’s fast, but it’s the first day of camp and everyone has rust and no one is happy with the way it went. We’ll shake it off and come back better tomorrow.”

Caputi doesn’t intend to be overlooked at this camp and his heavier frame will help achieve that.

“That was one of the things I was lacking that the Leafs told me to focus on,” Caputi said. “As long as I do that and prove myself I’ll be OK. It’s different (than Pittsburgh’s program), which was more heavy weight lifting. Pittsburgh was also more of an endurance-cardio thing. I like both, but this one seems to be working for me.”

Wilson says it shouldn’t be hard for any of his Leafs to pack some muscle on.

“Guys put the weight on scientifically now,” Wilson said. “Back when I played (in the late 1970s), if you wanted to put 10 pounds on, you ate more doughnuts. Now anyone here can put 10 pounds on by doing squats. Look at Luca and Carl Gunnarsson, they’ve both put 10 pounds on and it won’t affect their ability to play at all. It’s part of growing up.”

D’Amigo said his head is spinning a bit, going from the compacted Leafs rookie tournament in London last week to the club physicals Friday and getting out with Caputi and Co. for the start of three practice days.

“It’s the first time we’ve skated together, but I think two Italian boys can get a good chemistry out there,” D’Amigo said. “It’s moving pretty quick out there.”

lance.hornby@sunmedia.ca


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