It is early July 2012 and while the weather outside is fiery hot, the MasterCard Centre makes many believe winter is still here. A prelude to Canada’s favourite season and pastime is found in the development camp for the Toronto Maple Leafs, which is an annual occurrence that showcases future Leafs competing against each other. One of the names Leafs fans will hear much more often is that of Tyler Biggs. He’s wearing number 62 for this camp and enters as a former 1st round pick of the Toronto franchise back in 2011. Although this trip to Toronto is a special one, the young man from Loveland, Ohio used to call this city home. We’ll start there as we dive into development camp and emerge with an interview from Tyler Biggs.
Q) How you ended up playing AAA hockey in Toronto as a youngster?
“It started with one summer tournament and stayed with my Aunt. I ended up playing with a lot of guys who were headed for the Jr. Canadiens the next year and we ended up doing well in that tournament. It was a great group of guys, so I decided to make the jump over for the exposure because I didn’t think Cincinnati was going to get me to the next level at that time.”
Q) What impressed you with the city? Did you become a Leaf fan because of the surroundings?
“I grew up watching the Leafs with my dad while watching Hockey night in Canada, but what really surprised me was the coverage on Leafs TV and with OHL hockey and all of the hockey on TV….I mean you would have to order channels to watch any of that stuff in the states, so you could tell how much exposure guys were getting. It was awesome.”
Q) You have had the chance to represent your country before (U-17/U-18/USNDTP) and you are headed to the US National Junior Evaluation camp this summer, what is it like when you get to throw on the red, white and blue?
“You really take pride in it. I was fortunate enough to have done it before and I know the group of guys really well from playing with them in years past. I am really excited to see them again. To have another opportunity to represent my country is an extreme honour and I definately want to take advantage of it because you never know how many times it may come along.”
Q) The Americans have had some success in those types of tournaments over the past five years, or so…has this event evolved into showcasing the increase of hockey talent from your country?
“I think so. Out of all three tournaments (U17-U18-U20) this is the biggest one. You hear a lot from the Canadian side that they are excited about this year’s team, but for the US it is just another chance to show that the states is another country that is going to be a powerhouse. You can tell from the Under-18′s that is where we are headed.”
Q) What was it like to hear your name called on draft day when you were selected by the Maple Leafs, a team you grew up following?
“I didn’t really know what to expect heading into the draft, I had a few teams in mind that I could have went earlier or later to, but the fact that I was fortunate enough to be picked by a team I grew up watching and one my dad grew up watching was an extreme honour. At first I couldn’t describe the feeling. It was amazing after I was drafted and then getting to Toronto and being part of development camp…going through the media scrums, I didn’t know how to take it at first, it was unbelievable, but now I am getting used to it and enjoying all of it. I couldn’t be happier”
Q) How did you decide to go the NCAA route?
“It was something I had committed to and I wanted to stick with it. It was a great experience. I had great teammates and a great coaches and I was able to work on parts of my game I probably could not have in other places. It gave my parents the opportunity to get to most of my games and my sisters too – which hardly ever happened before because of the travel – that was awesome. Having that kind of support system was amazing. I was very fortunate to go to Miami-Ohio and get that year of experience. For me, I just thought it was time to move on and see what I can do on the next level.”
Q) If you end up playing with the Oshawa Generals next season in the OHL, how would you approach that opportunity?
“Obviously I trust the Maple Leaf’s staff decision. If they think Oshawa is a great place for me to be, I agree with that. I’d be more than happy to go and I hear nothing but great things about that organization. My father was also part of that team. I recently had a chance to talk to their GM Jeff Twohey and I would be very excited. My main focus in camp would to make the Leafs, but there is really not a bad situation up here.”
Q) Do you share those feelings then, if you ended up in a Marlies uniform?
“Any place right now is going to be a good experience for me. It will allow me to build my game and my confidence. It’s being professional: playing more games, getting time to work on things…I can’t really describe it all, because I have not been a part of it yet. I am very excited now and I trust the staff will put me in the right place.
Q) How has the 2012 version of Leafs development camp gone so far?
“I got off to a decent start with the off ice testing and I thought I had a good day. I like the scrimmages and we’ll see how the last two go.” (He would score a goal in the final scrimmage to help his team Blue to a 4-3 shootout win)
Q) If you weren’t in a hockey rink during 4th of July festivities, how would you normally celebrate your national Holiday?
“I like my bbq’s, if there is a pool there – that is the perfect picture…if not, I can make do!”
He settled for the frozen stuff this July 4th, but the Leafs hope for fireworks attached to his name in blue and white for years to come!
Thanks for checking out the latest blog. I’ll be in touch throughout the summer and you can follow my twitter account for more up to date postings and info: @HockeyAbbs
Enjoy this great weather and countdown to the next hockey season!