They used to call it the Turk: the author of the call that comes when you want it least.
“Coach wants to see you.”
Just 18, Leafs prospect Morgan Rielly knows what that means. Or, as the 18-year-old fifth overall pick from last year’s draft will tell you, what not getting a phone call means.
A year after a knee surgery scuttled his season, Rielly is heading to Ufa, Russia for the World Junior Championships. He figures to log plenty of ice time on the first unit beside Boston property Dougie Hamilton.
Mapleleafs.com writer Mike Ulmer spoke to the smooth-skating Moose Jaw Warriors defencemen about making the grade.
Mike Ulmer: Describe the procedure as you wait to hear whether you’ve made the team.
Morgan Rielly: You go back to the hotel. It’s about a 90-minute wait. You just sit there and wait for the call. If you get the call, you go downstairs and meet the coaches and they tell you in person. When that’s done they call in everyone left for a meeting.
Mike Ulmer: What’s that wait like?
Morgan Rielly: It’s tough. It’s a long 90 minutes. The TV was on and my roommate Tyler Wotherspoon and I were watching TSN trying to figure out what was going on. We both felt really lucky not to get the call.
Mike Ulmer: No better way jumps out but it seems like a nerve-wracking way to go about selecting a team.
Morgan Rielly: It is kind of weird but we were just so happy to be asked to play.
Mike Ulmer: You have five penalty minutes in 33 games for Moose Jaw this season. Penalty minutes have become a positive statistic over the last decade. How do you feel about that?
Morgan Rielly: I don’t understand why a player would take pride in penalty minutes. I don’t see a reason why they should be taken. I like to keep things even by staying on the ice instead of taking someone with me. Sometimes accidents happen or something breaks down and you have to take a penalty but hopefully my skating and anticipation won’t necessitate me taking a penalty.
Mike Ulmer: There was always a debate whether a defenceman could win the Lady Byng trophy as the most gentlemanly player in the NHL. Nicklas Lidstrom got his penalty minute total into the teens four times and still managed seven Norris Trophies. Was he an influence?
Morgan Rielly: He was an extremely intelligent hockey player who didn’t take very many penalties. I always tried to emulate that part of his game, have an active stick, skate hard, and get good positioning.
Mike Ulmer: Now you can finally answer when someone asks you what you’re doing for Christmas.
Morgan Rielly: Yeah. I tried not to jinx it. Now I can tell people.