Marleau adjusting to lighter travel schedule with Maple Leafs

TORONTO --When a storm system covered Toronto with 2 inches of snow earlier this month, Patrick Marleau's four sons couldn't wait to test out the unfamiliar gift from Mother Nature.

"Having spent all their lives in California, this was all new to them," Marleau said. "They couldn't wait to get out there and do snow angels."

The move from San Jose to Toronto this offseason certainly has resulted in a different lifestyle for Marleau's sons, Landon, 10, Brody, 8, Jagger, 6, and Caleb, 2, with the approaching Canadian winter arguably the biggest change.

Though a good dumping of snow is nothing new for Marleau, who grew up in Aneroid, Saskatchewan, his decision to leave the San Jose Sharks after 19 seasons and sign a three-year contract as an unrestricted free agent with the Toronto Maple Leafs on July 2 has brought a significant adjustment of its own.

"For sure, it's been the travel," Marleau said. "It's been a lot different."

A year ago, goalie Frederik Andersen went through the same transition after being traded by the Anaheim Ducks to the Maple Leafs. 

For teams on the West Coast like the Sharks and Ducks, road trips often are multicity, mile-gobbling journeys that involve changing time zones a handful of times. For players like Marleau and Andersen, this was a part of life in the Western Conference.

As such, packing a suitcase in the East seems a much simpler task.

Perhaps that's why Marleau and Andersen each broke into a mischievous grin earlier this week when the Maple Leafs' upcoming schedule, which features 14 of 18 games on the road beginning with a 2-1 shootout loss to the Florida Panthers on Wednesday, was brought up. 

Some local media outlets have portrayed the run as a grueling stretch. Marleau and Andersen certainly don't see it that way. 

"In general, instead of being away for a week or two, there are a lot of one- and two-game trips," said Marleau, whose Maple Leafs play at the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday (7:30 p.m. ET; FS-CR, TSN4, NHL.TV), before returning home to play the Washington Capitals on Saturday. "Go to Montreal and come back. Go to Ottawa and come back. It's different in that respect. There, once you are on the road, you stay there awhile. Here you are back and forth a lot.

"There's certain things that are positive about being on the road. You're in a group, in a team concept type of thing, going out for dinners, things like that that can help us win."

According to ontheforecheck.com, the Sharks will travel 45,407 miles this season, 10th in the NHL. The Maple Leafs will travel 35,689 miles, 27th in the League, fewer than all but the Detroit Red Wings (34,759), Buffalo Sabres (34,175), New Jersey Devils (34,052) and Pittsburgh Penguins (34,041).

Video: [email protected]: Marleau nets tic-tac-toe goal for OT winner

Since taking over as Sharks coach in 2015, Peter DeBoer has employed a plan featuring more off days and optional practices in order to combat the travel schedule. It's a recipe that Marleau and his former Sharks teammates claim kept them rested during their run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2016.

"I came to appreciate the benefit of showing up at the rink with as much energy as possible on game day, and not overcoaching on the off days," DeBoer said. "I think the players appreciated it too."

Marleau certainly did during his final two seasons with the Sharks.

"I think with the travel out there, you get home late after a back-to-back, you get that next day off," he said. "It was a lot more geared to getting ready for games, not as many practices."

To Marleau's point: During one stretch last season, San Jose played 16 games in 31 days, including five back-to-backs, three of which were on the road.

Interestingly, Andersen in some ways preferred the travel in the West, claiming he'd like to be on the road for longer chunks of the schedule.

"I would complain about the East schedule," he said. "I would rather string together a bunch of road games in a row and then stay home for a stretch. I think that's what they do in the West a lot more. Here in the East we've got to take a lot of short trips, obviously a lot more shorter flights. That's kind of my take on it.

"I know it's probably different for guys with families and kids. They don't want to be away too long. But I think it's good for them to get out of the house too."

Either way, Andersen understands the importance of the Maple Leafs making the most of these next 18 games.

"At the end of the day, it matters how many points we can gain in this stretch," he said. "If we can get through this with a good amount of points, it'll be huge for us. Then again, it won't matter that much if we don't take care of business on home ice."

The Maple Leafs will start 2018 with six consecutive games at Air Canada Centre, beginning with a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Jan. 2. By that time, there should be plenty of white stuff on the ground for the members of the Marleau clan to make their beloved snow angels.

Source : https://www.nhl.com/news/toronto-maple-leafs-patrick-marleau-adjusts-to-lighter-travel/c-293258272

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