Maple Leafs defenceman Carl Gunnarsson (left) and Joffrey Lupul jostle in front of the net during the fourth day of training camp at the MasterCard Centre in Toronto, Jan. 15, 2013. (JACK BOLAND/QMI Agency)
TORONTO - When Maple Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul was playing in Russia during the lockout, he blogged about his experience on a website called AskMen.com. It was pretty candid and insightful stuff.
One of the points the Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., native made was that playing and living in Russia, even for a short time, gave him much more of an appreciation for what European players, particularly Russians, have to go through when they first come to the NHL. Lupul wrote about how he was a “nervous wreck” packing for his first ever NHL road trip (in 2003) and how when he showed up for the charter he noticed that a pair of Russian rookies, Stanislav Chistov and Alexei Smirnov, had arrived with only a shaving kit.