24/09/2020

Goalie Jack Campbell and grinder Kyle Clifford discussed their ‘crazy’ day since being traded from the Los Angeles Kings to a Leafs team in the midst of a desperate playoff push

The Maple Leafs’ new backup goaltender Jack Campbell speaks to the media in Toronto on Feb. 6, 2020.
Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press
Jack Campbell stepped through the door into the Maple Leafs dressing room on Thursday and gasped when he saw a swarm of media waiting for him. The 28-year-old goalie has spent most of his NHL career in Los Angeles, a place where hockey is an entertaining diversion but not ingrained in the culture. Campbell, who was acquired late Wednesday with Kings teammate Kyle Clifford in exchange for Trevor Moore and two third-round draft picks, grew up in Port Huron, Mich., across a bridge from Southern Ontario.
Within minutes of learning he had been traded, he called his parents to share the news.
It was crazy, Campbell said. It was one of those moments where you go dark for a second because it is so special.
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Campbell was in New York with the Kings and had no clue he would be traded.
I packed a pair of gym shorts and a pair of pants for the road trip, he said. I [have] to do some shopping.
Campbell, the stand-in for Jonathan Quick the past two seasons, was summoned to Toronto after a disastrous performance by Michael Hutchinson in a loss to the Rangers on Wednesday.
Hutchinson gave up three goals in the first period, including two within six seconds, and later dropped his stick and allowed a fourth to dribble between his legs.
The Maple Leafs lost 5-3 and are fourth in the Atlantic Division standing and 10th in the Eastern Conference with one-third of the regular season remaining. They are two points out of the second wild-card position but have played more games than six of the nine teams ahead of them.
Hutchinson was 4-9-1 in relief of starter Frederik Andersen and had allowed three goals or more in one period in nine of 15 appearances. Andersen, who suffered a neck injury in a loss to Florida on Monday, took shots at Torontos practice facility in the suburbs on Thursday but is not expected to be available for Friday nights encounter with the Anaheim Ducks at Scotiabank Arena.
Hutchinson was assigned to the Marlies of the AHL after the defeat. After winning four successive starts, he gave up three goals in the third period after Andersen was hurt on Monday and then lost again 48 hours later.
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He had done a good job to right himself after a tough start [this season], but on Monday night, it was like a switch flipped for him in a span of 10 or 15 minutes, Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas said. He is a wonderful person and has proved to be valuable. I hope he doesnt get thrown under [a bus] because of this.
Campbell is 8-10-2 in 20 starts this season and is 20-25-5 with a .916 save percentage in his career.
Im ready to go when my number is called, and I am going to try to be the best teammate I can, he said. I know the city is incredible as far a hockey community, and what a great team they have.
They are electric and superfast and have great players from top to bottom. I am excited to be a part of it.
In Clifford, the Maple Leafs picked up a veteran forward who plays with a chip on his shoulder. The 29-year-old won two Stanley Cups with the Kings and has 60 goals, 129 points and 819 penalty minutes in 660 regular-season games over 10 years.
Kyle Clifford greets the media in Toronton on Feb. 6, 2020.
Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press
I know they didnt bring me here to outpace Auston Matthews in goals, he said, eliciting laughter. I bring a different element.
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Clifford grew up in Ayr in Southwestern Ontario and followed the Maple Leafs as a kid. Mats Sundin was his favourite player.
Its not a secret that I have a love for this team, he said. It is a childhood dream to put [this] jersey on.
Clifford did not know he had been traded until 11 p.m. on Wednesday.
It was unexpected, he said after he and Campbell arrived in Toronto on a morning flight. The last 12 hours have been crazy. My phone blew up.
Clifford knows there will be significantly more pressure playing in Toronto on a team battling for the playoffs, and welcomes it.
There is more attention paid here because we want to bring a Stanley Cup, he said. There is pressure, but its a good pressure.
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Campbell will earn US$675,000 this year, but is due to receive US$1.65-million for each of the next two seasons. Los Angeles will retain 50 per cent of Cliffords salary of US$1.6-million through this year. He is set to become an unrestricted free agent this off-season. He was one of the Kings longest-tenured players and extremely popular with fans because of his gritty style of play.
Along with trading Moore, who has missed chunks of the season because of injuries, Toronto traded a third-round pick in this summers draft and a conditional third-round pick in 2021.
Dubas said the Maple Leafs had searched for another backup goalie for a while.
If it had been available to do earlier, we would have gotten it done, the general manager said. Its a position where you worry about how to respond if your No. 1 goes down. You always have that fear.
Toronto will be without defenceman Cody Ceci, who was hurt and limped off the ice in the third period on Wednesday. He is expected to be out of the lineup for a significant duration of time. Morgan Rielly, the Leafs best player on defence, is on long-term injured reserve and it is not certain if he will return this season.
It all adds up to an uphill climb for the team at a critical time.
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I know there is consternation, Dubas said. I know there is panic. This is a severe test and we are not in a great spot. But it is an opportunity for our guys to grow.