Rocky Saganiuk cheers on grandson Colby with Leafs

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Rocky Saganiuk laughed heartily when he stated what number of Maple Leafs followers felt antiquated by the point the membership launched this week’s dev camp record.


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Among the many strikers is Chicago-born Colby Saganiuk. Not the son of the boisterous Ballard-era winger – his grandson.

“I respect you calling me, however he is crucial a part of the story, it is all Colby from right here,” stated Rocky, who turns 64 subsequent month. “It’s an honor for me that Toronto itself has seen one thing on this younger man. Now he has to point out what he can do and have enjoyable with it. I am simply proud that he is my grandchild and I get to look at him do what he loves probably the most.”

Rocky is fairly unassuming, as a result of his affect has allowed Colby to navigate among the vibrant waters for this chance with the Leafs. Rocky’s daughter has been elevating Colby at her dad’s home till this summer season, as his dad is not all the time current within the photograph. When Rocky lastly put his nomadic profession on maintain, 5 years in Toronto, one in Pittsburgh, 9 years as a participant/coach in England, he settled within the suburbs of Chicago, working a hockey program for for youngsters, ‘Rocky Hockey’, for kids 10 years and underneath. It lasted 21 years and naturally Colby was a primary pupil.


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“He discovered to skate on the age of three in my dad’s yard in Edmonton, with just one ball,” says Rocky. “Since then, hockey has consumed him and I am comfortable to teach him in Chicago for 5 or 6 years.”

Rocky Hockey has an elite alumni, William and Alex Nylander, Brandon Sutter and his siblings, Kendall Coyne of the US ladies’s crew and her brother.

“Youngsters who went to school, faculty, teenagers and even the NHL, I actually cannot (attribution), however I feel I gave them the like to wish to play this sport “.

When Penguins president David Morehouse, whose son has the identical 2003 birthday as Colby, recommended Rocky have the chance to construct a bigger youngsters’s tent underneath that membership’s sponsorship in 2017, The household has moved to Pittsburgh. Colby joined an elite under-16 crew as a ticket to the US Nationwide Improvement crew, whereas Rocky launched the Sidney Crosby Be taught to Play Program.


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“It retains me six for seven days every week,” he laughs. “You get on one knee and speak about hockey and cartoons and birthday events. I attempt to comply with youngsters’s TV reveals like Paw Patrol, however I allow them to inform me every part concerning the episodes in order that they really feel actually fascinating.

“I am going to 27 rinks in Pittsburgh and so far as Johnstown and Erie to verify youngsters eight and underneath will take pleasure in their start-up. It was an incredible present. “

This was Colby’s draft yr, however issues did not go nicely with the 5-foot-8 automobile, which weighed 155 kilos. A slow-healing thigh damage in January 2019, coupled with COVID-19 meant little or no scouting, whereas a transfer to Erie Otters was futile now that the final OHL season got here to an finish. Rocky stated NHL groups have been nonetheless speaking to Colby till the beginning of the July draft, though his identify was not known as.


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“I’ve to remind him that it was a troublesome yr for all of the gamers. And he is over 20 months previous and nobody has seen him, nobody has a video of him in probably the most essential second.

“He was pissed off, however was it proper that ‘what’s my subsequent step’? Minutes after the draft, he obtained an invite to affix the dev camps, and we determined the selection from Leafs was the most effective. “

There are 20 forwards and 39 prospects at camp this weekend on the Ford Efficiency Middle, together with eight picks in Toronto, all of whom hope to play in subsequent week’s five-team NHL Rookie Match, Mich. Rocky thinks Colby might be superb.

“I’m not telling you as a grandfather, however as a coach, as a hockey participant, he’s very devoted to his crew and really targeted on his considering. learn how to be a participant. The Leafs will love his persona.


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“He’ll be one of many first to verify, then you definately’ll lookup and say ‘holy crap, he is the primary to come back again’ too. He has that previous type, like a Doug Gilmour, and is aware of that as an unqualified participant it’s important to deliver plenty of issues, battle within the entrance, within the corners.

“He’s higher than me. I am a quick skater who can shoot puck. However I feel I used to be as robust as you needed to be in that period and battle, though I used to be solely 5 ft 9. How silly I used to be. I ought to do what I am there to do. Toughness is now combating for cash. “


Rocky Saganiuk didn’t have any memorable Maple Leaf souvenirs to cross on to his grandson Colby.

Within the late Seventies – early 80s, the crew prompted way more disturbance than the titles. However earlier this yr, on Colby’s 18th birthday, Rocky gave him a commemorative ring that proprietor Harold Ballard gave the astute younger winger after his first full season. within the years 1979-1980. Saganiuk has 47 factors in 75 video games, third in objectives scored behind Darryl Sittler and John Anderson.


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“I’ve a hoop and I feel so do Anderson and Laurie Boschman,” Saganiuk stated. “It is Colby now, to cross it on to his youngsters.”

Rocky pairs completely with the Canadian-Western Lanny McDonald and Tiger Williams.

“It was an thrilling time on the town being a Leaf. Tiger and I’ll battle throughout follow. However he’s instructing me, as a result of he likes me. “

McDonald’s, Williams, and ultimately Sittler have been all traded as Ballard and his underlings tore down a promising crew. However Saganiuk continues to be buddies with superintendent Gerry McNamara, the 86-year-old who was calling Rocky to congratulate him this week when he heard that Colby had been invited to the Leafs Improvement camp.

“Gerry was the man who guided me, mentioned me, and coached my first farm crew,” says Rocky. “Once I broke two bones in my neck after a cross-examination, Gerry was proper there. We each laughed this week that we have been most likely the one two folks on the Leafs to name Harold ‘Mr Ballard’. “



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