Opening Remarks: A good two points for us here today. I do think before I take any questions it’s important to acknowledge the passing of George Armstrong today. It was tough news for our organization and our fans and people that love the game. We actually took a moment today as a team – normally 90 minutes before a game we have a meeting. That’s where we cover a lot of our plans for the game and preparing for the opposition.
Today we made it about George and shared a video of him and had a conversation about him and his impact on our organization. Leaf Nation is as strong as it is because of the efforts of people like George and, in particular, that era when they were winning the Stanley Cups. Generations of Leaf fans were bred through those efforts. We felt that it was important to acknowledge that.
Condolences to the Armstrong family, his friends and people who loved him. For myself, I didn’t get a chance to see him play or anything like that, but, like I said, we feel the efforts of people like George and the efforts that they put forth in that era. We feel that every day here with the Leafs and are grateful for that.
Q. Mark Masters, TSN: A couple of the guys said it was maybe a big of an ugly win. Jack Campbell also said it could be a character building win. What do you want the group to take from this game?
Sheldon Keefe: I think there’s no doubt that it was an ugly one. I think the reality is we looked at this game, it was our seventh game in 12 days, traveling out here and then having to play a two o’clock game. It’s a tough ask, and then you’re playing against a rested team. This one, we felt, would not be pretty. To get the two points is real big for us to have found a way to get those wins and found a way to bounce a few pucks our way into the net. It’s enough for us to get out of here with a win and now we’ll get a good night’s rest and have good practice tomorrow and regroup for the next time out.
Q. Mark Masters, TSN: How would you describe the effort of Jack Campbell in net, especially near the end there? It appeared he might be dealing with something physically. What did he mean to you guys today?
Sheldon Keefe: He was huge. You don’t get through ugly games like this with a win without your goaltender being your best player. He was that today. He gave our guys great confidence, maybe too much confidence at times, but he was outstanding. It’s another great effort by him today.
Q. Jonas Siegel, The Athletic: I’m wondering what’s running through your mind when you see Jack struggle there at the end physically?
Sheldon Keefe: You’re hoping he’s alright. He got a little bit of attention there and obviously it happened late in the game so I think he’s feeling the effects of that a little bit, but he was able to shake it off and get through the remainder of the game. Luckily there was no other flurry around the net the rest of the way.
Q. Jonas Siegel, The Athletic: How did you feel Auston looked in his first game back?
Sheldon Keefe: I thought he, like a lot of guys on our team, just weren’t themselves today. His situation probably even more difficult. I don’t know how many days its been since he’s really skated here. We just didn’t have legs today and it was real tough for all of our top guys to really get going tonight.
Q. Chris Johnston, Sportsnet: Was there anything about George Armstrong in particular you wanted the players to know or anything about his career or his life that you shared?
Sheldon Keefe: We went through that recapped his accomplishments and what he meant to the organization, his taking part in all those Stanley Cups and his abilities as a leader and as a captain. I think the message really, we talked about just how efforts like that back in the 1960s, in particular, the last time the Leafs won a Cup, that’s the reason why Leaf Nation is as strong as it is. That’s why generations of families grow up as Leaf fans, because of those efforts.
We have a role to play to continue to build upon that. That was part of it. Just celebrating his legacy. When you’re in this every single day, you’re in the moment, you’re taking care of what you can control every single day. I do think it’s important to stop and pause every now and again just to look at the bigger picture and recognize what we’re doing here every day is for a greater purpose beyond ourselves. We have a role to play within how we prepare and how we play, and people like George showed the way there.
Q. Mark Masters, TSN: What are you going to remember most about your first game back in Calgary?
TJ Brodie: I think it’s a hard one to forget with the situation and everything. Looking back when I do retire, it’s definitely something to tell the kids and grandkids about the masks and no fans and stuff. It was different, that’s for sure.
Q. Mark Masters, TSN: It’s obviously so different with no fans, there would have been a standing ovation for you, I’m sure. What was that moment like when they did the video tribute in the first period? Your teammates and your old teammates were showing their appreciation.
TJ Brodie: It was special. I owe a lot to the people in Calgary, the teammates, everyone in the organization, the fans. I didn’t really know what to do there. I’ve never been on a different team and with no fans I didn’t know whether to wave or what to do. It was a little awkward.
Q. Kristen Shilton, TSN: What was your take on how the team played tonight, thinking about how you felt overall about the game defensively?
TJ Brodie: I think there’s things to clean up, for sure. That’s not the way we wanted it to go, it was a little ugly at points. At the end of the day, those games are going to happen and those are the ones that count at the end of the year. Those messy ones that you end up with the two points at the end.
Q. Mark Masters, TSN: You seemed to be in a bit of pain at the end, how are you holding up physically after a gutsy effort?
Jack Campbell: I feel great. The boys played really well and it’s just huge to come out of this barn with two points.
Q. Mark Masters, TSN: Was there any thought in your mind that you’d have to leave the game?
Jack Campbell: Never.
Q. Mark Masters, TSN: How would you describe the challenge of going up against someone like Matthew Tkachuk? Obviously, he’s there to agitate and also has so much skill, he fell on top of you at the end there. How would you describe the challenge?
Jack Campbell: I don’t really look at him as a menace out there, he’s just a really good hockey player. Anytime he’s out there I’m always aware. He’s really good in front of the net and setting up his teammates. I think we did a great job as a unit shutting him down. We’re going to need that every night to keep getting these two points.
Q. Terry Koshan, Toronto Sun: Was there any worry there with what was happening in the final minute, health-wise?
Jack Campbell: I was just really focused on trying to get out of this place with two points. I think the guys did a good job of helping me out and we accomplished that. It’s all I’m focused on right now.
Opening Remarks: First off, I just want to extend my condolences to the Armstrong family. Obviously, George was an incredible ambassador for the City of Toronto and the Maple Leafs. He paved the way for the guys like us who are trying to accomplish something big here. I just want to extend my condolences to his family.
Q. Terry Koshan, Toronto Sun: What was your take overall? You guys had the day of travel yesterday, the early start could have played a factor. The Flames hadn’t played in six days but you guys seemed to come out from the opening faceoff and do some good things and carry that through. Did you see it that way?
Auston Matthews: I don’t know. I mean, I think it was a pretty ugly game for us to be honest, for us. There’s a lot of things we could have done better. I think we had good sequences in the game. Obviously, a couple of solid lucky bounces that went our way today and we’ll definitely take them but definitely some stuff that we can clean up. Obviously, we can’t make excuses for travel and time change and that stuff. Coming in here we’ve got a job to do. We’ve got to use this time now, a day and a half until we play next, to rest and recover and get used to this schedule here.
Q. Terry Koshan, Toronto Sun: Is that a difference in the team then, that you can “win ugly” and some things might not go your way but you’re still able to pull out a victory?
Auston Matthews: Yeah, [Campbell] was a rock star for us tonight. He made some big saves, especially toward the end there. He was a brick wall for us. He definitely saved us there for sure. It always, I guess, encouraging to win ugly games like this where you just stay with it shift-by-shift and just try to get what we can done.
Q. Jonas Siegel, The Athletic: I was just wondering at practice the other day, what is it that you were feeling that you decided not to practice?
Auston Matthews: I just had some issues here with my hand that I was going through. I’m not really going to go any further than that but obviously if I could have skated or played and felt comfortable then I would have done that but it’s fine now and we’re good to move forward here.
Q. Jonas Siegel, The Athletic: Is it something you’ll have to keep your eye on moving forward?
Auston Matthews: A little bit. I’ll obviously have to take care of it here in the next couple of weeks but it feels a lot better. It feels more than good enough to play and good enough to go out there and contribute and help the team.
Q. Mark Masters, TSN: Wayne, that was a milestone moment for you — first as a Leaf, 100th on the power play, 500th point in your career. What did it mean to you?
Wayne Simmonds: It’s pretty big. It felt a lot better that we got the two points. Obviously, it’s nice to get it out of the way, but it’s even nicer to get the two points. Not too happy with our performance, we’ve got a few things we’ve got to fix, but a good two points to start off the road trip.
Q. Mark Masters, TSN: What’s your perspective on the power play that seems to be clicking very well to start this season? All the weapons that are there and your role on it.
Wayne Simmonds: We’ve got two great units. I don’t think it matters which unit is on the ice at this moment. Both units are clicking really well. For me it’s pretty much status quo, get in front of the net, get loose pucks, present myself as an option for the other guys. It’s been great so far and we’ll look to continue to improve.