An Introduction to the Newest Toronto Maple Leaf: James van Riemsdyk
(Peter J. Thompson/National Post)
By Tony Ambrogio (@SNTonyAmbrogio)
He stood in the middle of the dressing room on a hot July day, and James van Riemsdyk must have wondered what he was getting himself into it.
In came eight television cameras, countless microphones and note pads as the Toronto media anxiously filed into the room, to hear from the Toronto Maple Leafs forward, who just moments earlier stepped off the ice of a hockey school run by the team.
“It’s a little different,” said van Riemsdyk as he looked around the large media gathering. “Obviously is it still July but you sense the excitement over hockey here.”
That you do.
In his first face to face meeting with the Toronto media, van Riemsdyk seemed calm, poised and ready to handle the pressure of playing in the so-called “capital of the hockey universe.”
He also seemed quite open to playing center, a position Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said he would like to see the 23 year-old play in training camp.
“It is something that would be a good opportunity for me,” said van Riemsdyk, who will wear # 21 with the Leafs this season. “I’ve played a little bit in the past. It can help me be a bit more versatile as a player and I think that is always a good thing. I’m definitely excited by the opportunity.”
Van Riemsdyk played center in college, but with the Philadelphia Flyers loaded up the middle, he never played the position during his time in Philadelphia. So to feel better about the position, van Riemsdyk has been spending his down time watching video.
“I kind of asked for some stuff that he (Carlyle) would like to see out of a centermen so it’s a little bit easier of a transition when I get here for camp,” said van Riemsdyk who had 47 goals and 52 assists for 99 points in three seasons with the Flyers.
“It’s a good challenge. The added responsibility of playing 200 feet of the ice is something I’m definitely excited about. “He’s also excited at the thought of playing with Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul and being on the Leafs top line.
“You want to be in those key moments on the ice when the game is on the line,” said van Riemsdyk. “Those are the moments I love being a part of and being out there for. I can be out there in those kind of opportunities it would be great.”
In his three seasons in Philly, van Riemsdyk took 10 face offs. He won just 2 of them.
Injuries have been something van Riemsdyk has had to endure during his NHL career, as he looks to put that past him this year.
As far as an ailing hip – a hip that the Flyers allegedly wanted van Riemsdyk to have surgery on – it’s feeling better.
“It’s all good,” said van Riemsdyk. “That’s what the summer time is for to get everything straightened out. We found a way to strengthen it (exercise program) and keep things feeling good and that’s what I’m going to continue to do.”