The addition of Joffrey Lupul and Keith Aulie to the Maple Leafs ranks brought the Western Canadian contingent to nine of the 20 players who started Thursday night’s game against the New Jersey Devils.
“We were laughing about that,” Saskatoon-born defenceman Luke Schenn said at the morning skate as newcomer Lupul was mobbed by the media. “It’s like a Western Hockey League junior team in here right now, with a couple of European imports and a couple who decided to leave college.
“There are definitely a lot of western boys here. I’m probably biased, but it’s good to see. When I first got here, I was probably the only one, along with Ian White.”
The nine come from Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, all big provinces, but in a small hockey world. Clarke MacArthur and Colby Armstrong are from the same hometown of Lloydminster, MacArthur and Lupul were billets in Medicine Hat, Kris Versteeg and Dion Phaneuf trained together in the off-season and Phaneuf influenced free agent MacArthur to join the Leafs.
In fact, Wilson started the game with six Westerners out on the ice, MacArthur, Lupul, Bozak. Phaneuf, Aulie and Reimer.
“I’m happy to be getting an opportunity here,” Lupul said as he tried to answer numerous questions at once. “This is a complete 180 degree turn from Anaheim, but I enjoy this kind of (atmosphere).”
Toronto’s Western Connections
G James Reimer Winnipeg, Man.
D Dion Phaneuf Edmonton. Alta.
D Keith Aulie Regina, Sask.
LW Clarke MacArthur Lloydminster, Alta
LW Jay Rosehill Olds, Alta
LW Kris Versteeg, Lethbridge, Alta.
C Tyler Bozak, Regina, Sask.
RW Joffrey Lupul, Fort Saskatchewan, Alta
RW Colby Armstrong, Lloydminster, Sask.