In many ways, the Toronto Maple Leafs are the New York Yankees of the NHL. This is the team everyone grows up watching and the team with the most media scrutiny. Playing against them in the playoffs can bring up mixed feeling for a lot of players.
Such is the case for Toronto native, Tom Wilson.
“I still have obviously memories of Saturday nights, playing ball hockey in the backyard on ice in the backyard rink and going in and watching the Leafs play,” Wilson said. “It's a fond memory you have as a kid going to the [Air Canada Centre], watching games when you're younger.
“There's always going to be roots to Toronto, but obviously they're public enemy No. 1 right now for this club.”
Hailing from Toronto, this series presents certain difficulties for Wilson. Games 3 and 4 in Toronto will be a homecoming of sorts for him. We all know that family and friends can often be distractions in daily life. Now imagine trying to prepare for a playoff series in your hometown.
For his part, Wilson is trying to ignore those distractions as much as possible.
“I sent my dad a text saying, 'See you next week' with tongue-out emoji, but that's the gist of it so far,” Wilson said. “There's obviously going to be a lot of people, friends, and family, but the team gives you a good chance to get into your hotel and forget about all the distractions, just focus on playing hockey and that's going to be huge.
“My immediate family and close friends, obviously I'm not going to completely shut them out, they'll be there, but hockey's the No. 1 priority and they've seen the sacrifices you've got to make in order to kind of get those big wins down the road.”
Just getting his family to the game, however, also presents certain…challenges.
“I haven't even looked at ticket prices yet and I don't want to look,” Wilson said. “They're pretty expensive in the regular season there towards the end. I definitely took a hit at the last regular season game so if anyone in Toronto wants to lend me their tickets I'll gladly take them.”
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