As the whirlwind subsides and the dust settles, Alexander Kerfoot has had time to breathe, to reflect on a tumultuous period of 10 months which did not leave him “very excited” by his performance in the uniform Toronto Maple Leafs.
Why does the 25-year-old believe he under-delivered and by-produced, by his own standards, after the Colorado trade and the signing of a juicy $ 14 million four-year commitment?
“It is difficult to answer this question,” Kerfoot begins, speaking on a conference call from his childhood home in Vancouver. “But I think a lot has happened this year. “
Harvard Graduate Reviews Coles Notes: How He Didn’t See Canada Day Trade (Under the Nazem Kadri Agreement) and How He Never Thought About Leaving the Avalanche , a small market, in the spotlight of a crazy hockey Toronto, with its Everest peaks and Atlantis socks transforming heroes into commercial bait week by week.
How he had to meet a new set of teammates and coaches, get used to playing more in the center, get comfortable with head coach Mike Babcock – only to watch him get fired. How Sheldon Keefe overhauled the system and Vitamixed the lines, experimenting with Kerfoot on the wing.
November was a particularly trying month. Before the change of trainer, Kerfoot underwent facial surgery to repair a broken jaw. He returned to action fairly quickly, using a face shield, but was suspended two games for a dangerous blow to Erik Johnson’s numbers when he returned to Denver.
An out of character check that he regrets.
“It was a strange stretch there. I came back from an injury. I felt like I was playing horribly coming back from this for whatever reason, and then going to Colorado, an emotional game. Then I obviously do it to one of my good friends. I felt horrible about it … It was a bad play, “says Kerfoot.
“I don’t want to apologize in any way. So much has happened this year. There were a lot of things that were thrown at you. “
After scoring 19 goals as a rookie and eclipsing the 40-point benchmark in each of his first two seasons, Kerfoot had just nine goals and 19 assists in 65 games on the Maple Leafs third line. And before the break, Keefe did not hesitate to want to see more offensive contributions from the last six.
Kerfoot draws a parallel between what he should personally and the group as a whole should glean from the wild race of the 2019-20 Leafs: consistency is essential.
“I really see some of the best players in the world, and they are elite in every game. And maybe my elite is different from their elite. I will never play so well [Auston] Matthews or someone like that, but bringing that consistency to life is important, “said Kerfoot.
“I am always confident in myself. I think I could still be part of the team. I’m delighted to come back and keep improving, improving and helping. “
To this end, Kerfoot has made clever use of this unexpected family sabbatical. He cooks, devours the biographies of athletes (Andre Agassi’s Open, Hank Haney’s The Big Miss: My Years in Tiger Woods Training) burning Ozark and Billions episodes, practically joining the Maple Leafs morning yoga classes, going to the household gym, playing board games and staying active outside with his hockey-loving siblings.
The son of Vancouver Whitecaps owner George Kerfoot, Alexander also has the unique opportunity to quarantine the skates, something few North American hockey players have been able to do.
Whistler’s home of the Kerfoots has an NHL-sized ice rink, and Kerfoot says he and his siblings have used it several times.
“I’m able to do whatever I want from a training perspective, stay in shape and I’m ready to go and whenever we have to come back,” he said.
Kerfoot is not only optimistic that the NHL will save a 2020 post-season, but that its best days as a maple leaf are yet to come.
“Last year I could never have imagined being traded and being in Toronto, but now that I am here and we are in this situation, I could not imagine being back in Colorado,” said Kerfoot.
“Whatever your current situation is, it becomes the new standard, so I couldn’t be more pleased with the organization in Toronto. We have a great team, a great group, and I think the future is really bright here. “