Dreams are going to die fast at Maple Leafs training camp.
Coach Ron Wilson couldn’t have made that clearer on Friday as players reported and were put through medicals and off-ice physical tests.
Wilson said he wants to pare the roster to 40 players after the pre-season game on Wednesday night in Philadelphia and then to “26 or 27” by next weekend.
There are 70 players in camp now.
“I’m cutting through the B.S. here and getting down to all the NHL players,” Wilson said. “I’m not worried about where we are going to be in two or three years.
“My primary responsibility is making the playoffs this year and getting off to a good start.”
What Wilson says is refreshing. Not for those players who thought they were going to get a good shot, mind you, but for those who know they will be on the opening-night roster. People won’t have to try to make things happen with guys who they know will be gone by the regular-season opener on Oct. 6.
Besides, there’s not a plethora of jobs available. There’s a spot on the wing on the third line, and unless Nazem Kadri has forgotten how to play hockey, it’s his.
Let Joe Colborne and Matt Frattin develop with the Toronto Marlies. Unless there are injuries with the Leafs, they wouldn’t get a lot of ice time anyway.
The Leafs have eight pre-season games, and though his integral players won’t play in every one, Wilson has to give his new top line with Tim Connolly between Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul as much as time as possible to gel.
Cody Franson and John-Michael Liles have to settle in on the blue line. There’s a chance Matthew Lombardi will get into a game before the pre-season ends, but only if his recovery from a concussion allows him.
For the majority of players in camp, the decision has been made.