NHL

Leafs' Bozak talks new additions, contract, criticism

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TSN.ca Staff
7/12/2013 4:12:12 PM
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Despite speculation that Tyler Bozak would follow fellow Leaf Mikhail Grabovski out the door and sign elsewhere as an unrestricted free agent, the centre said he was never as close to leaving as was being rumoured and in fact, did not field any official offers from other NHL teams.

Speaking with Mike Hogan and Jeff O'Neill on Leafs Lunch Friday afternoon on TSN 1050, the 27-year-old also weighed in on the Leafs off-season additions and the critics who question whether he is a number one centre.

"We weren't talking to many other teams," Bozak said. "We actually agreed with the Leafs before the Noon (eastern free agency deadline) time even started, so I wasn't able to field any offers. My agent had talked to some teams in that period where you are able to but my number one choice was to stay, so that was our main focus."

He said both the Leafs and his representatives were on the same page, making the negotiations relatively pain free.

"I wanted to stay and they wanted to keep me so we were able to get to a number that we both agreed on pretty easily."

Although Bozak contributed just 28 points in 46 games while receiving first line minutes, he said his value comes on his ability to play an all-around game and in making his linemates better.

"I've had two coaches that had the opportunity to not play me in that role and have, so if there's a few fans on Twitter that still think I'm not able to play, I'll take the coaches opinion over theirs every time," Bozak said.

In addition to resigning Bozak to a five-year, $21 million contract, Leafs general manager Dave Nonis has had a busy off-season, adding players through trades and free agency.

Up front, David Clarkson was added and is expected to fill a top-six forward role. Bozak said he thinks the Mimico, ON-native brings a number of different elements to the game that will be welcomed.

"I think he's going to be a huge addition to our team," Bozak said. "Every time you play against him he can hurt you every shift he's out there with scoring a big goal or laying a big hit. He's a guy you're aware of when you're on the ice. I think he's gotten better as a player every year he's played…and I think he's going to help us a lot."

Coming off scoring the winning goal to clinch his second Stanley Cup, Dave Bolland was acquired for one second round pick and two fourth round selections and Bozak thinks he will help a young team lacking much playoff experience.

"I think he brings a ton of leadership," Bozak said. "He's been there before, he knows what it takes and I think we're a pretty young team so we need a guy like that."

Between the pipes Nonis also made a move, trading forward Matt Frattin and backup goaltender Ben Scrivens for Los Angeles second stringer, Jonathan Bernier.

Despite Reimer's success last season, Bozak commented that he wasn't too surprised the team made the move considering all the rumours and speculation that surrounded the Leafs interest in another goalie who could push and possibly supplant the Leafs incumbent.

"I think him and Reimer are going to battle and push each other and I think it'll help make them both better players," Bozak said.

Bozak was optimistic that those three additions would go a long way to helping the team come playoff time, especially after the Leafs were able to end their nine-year drought and gain some valuable post-season experience last season.

"It was tough," Bozak said of his and many of his teammates' first NHL playoffs. "The game intensifies quite a bit. Every play is a little bit more important…I think it was just a great experience for our whole young team and I think if we're ever in that situation again we're going to do a lot better, I hope."

He commented the loss to the Bruins was especially tough for him to take since he had to watch Game's 6 and 7 with an upper body injury.

"I don't think any of us have really let it go yet."

Joffrey Lupul Tyler Bozak (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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