TORONTO - That the Maple Leafs start playing pre-season games barely 48 hours after their first on-ice session at training camp is fine with Tim Connolly.
“Practice is practice, but it really takes games to get a feel for guys out there,” Connolly said after an informal skate with his teammates on Wednesday at the MasterCard Centre.
“I’m sure I’ll be playing with quite a few players this year. Whoever it is, we want to get some chemistry going right away. It’s going to take a lot of talking on and off the ice, figuring out what guys do and what their tendencies are.”
Connolly can say he’ll be alongside different players, but the simple fact is the Leafs signed him to a two-year, $9.5-million US contract so he can get Phil Kessel the puck. There’s not much more to it than that.
The Leafs report for physicals on Friday, are on the ice on Saturday and play host to the Ottawa Senators on Monday in their pre-season opener. The following night, the Philadelphia Flyers visit the Air Canada Centre.
Connolly is 30 and has been around for awhile, but on the eve of training camp, he’ll have a butterfly or two.
“This is the most anxious time of the year for us,” Connolly said. “We just want to get to camp and get through it. It’s definitely a fresh start.”