Cody Franson was back at school Friday … the Leafs Hockey School that is. The Leafs defenceman was in town to help out on-ice activities for the day at MasterCard Centre.
“It’s fun, that was me back in the day and I haven’t forgotten those days and how much fun they are for kids,” Franson said.
It isn’t the only time this summer that Franson will be working with youngsters as they learn the game of hockey. He and Shea Weber help out at the Sicamous hockey school every August in British Columbia. It is a way for him to give back to his hometown.
“When you can get (NHL) guys to come out and see them every once in a while it really makes their day,” he said.
After an up-and-down 2011-12 with the Maple Leafs, Franson is looking to get off to a better start in his second season with Toronto. The players know what head coach Randy Carlyle wants come September.
“We have to be ready for the start of camp and he expects the best effort from us every day,” Franson said.
Many say the way you practice is the way you play. Franson is definitely one that believes in that mantra.
“Being able to come out and execute and being a hardworking team every day at practice allows you to execute during a game,” Franson said.
There wasn’t much rest for Franson following the conclusion of the season. He was back in the gym preparing for the upcoming campaign as he will look to improve on his 21 points in 57 games. He spends his summers in Kelowna, B.C. where plenty of current and former NHL players take up residence.
One thing that will need to be straightened out before the start of the season is his contract status. The 24-year-old is a restricted free agent but he doesn’t plan to go anywhere and it sounds like a new deal is already in the works.
“I love it here in Toronto and we’re in the process of doing something right now,” he said.
Last summer Franson was one of the new additions to the team. So far the Leafs have brought in Jay McClement and James van Riemsdyk to the team while having traded Luke Schenn in the deal for JVR.
Franson played against McClement when he was in the Western Conference with Nashville and he offers this scouting report to those who are not familiar with the new centre.
“He’s a hardworking guy, a real character guy, wins lots of faceoffs, is good on the penalty kill and he is a good guy to have in your room,” Franson said.
The addition of van Riemsdyk saw the departure of Schenn, a fellow Kelowna resident and someone that Franson says was tough to see go.
“It was one of those trades where you hate to see Luke go, he is a good friend to all of us and I wish him all the best,” Franson said.
Bringing in 23-year-old van Riemsdyk should be a boost to the Leafs forward ranks.
“He is a dominant player, a big young kid,” Franson said. “We’re excited to have JVR come in and help us out.”