Durzi taking development in stride

Sean Durzi is a prospect of his childhood favourite Toronto Maple Leafs, but the fact hasn't soaked in yet even as he is put through development camp.

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Sean Durzi still hasn’t wrapped his head around the fact that he’s a Toronto Maple Leaf.


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He’s in the thick of it. On Wednesday he pulled on the blue-and-white gear while admiring the logo and taking part in the team’s development camp at the Maple Leaf’s practice arena – The Mastercard Centre – just minutes east on the QEW from his hometown of Mississauga.

“It’s almost surreal,” he said from his downtown Toronto hotel on Thursday.

The Maple Leafs are not completely new to Durzi. He grew up a fan of the club, and after being passed over in all seven rounds of the 2017 draft he was invited to take part in the Leafs camp.

This time however, he’s gone from extra body hoping to impress to second-round prospect working to stick around and soaking up all of the coaching and advice.

“At this stage they’re really big on the development,” he said. “They want us to work on the little things. We have the resources now so we need to use them and take advantage of it.”

The Maple Leafs thought well enough about Durzi’s improvement, and ability to grow, that they saw fit to use their 52nd overall pick on the 19-year-old.

As a draft re-entry Durzi was hopeful he would be picked in 2018, but said he had “no clue” when his name would be called.

Sitting in the bleachers inside of the American Airlines Centre in Dallas with his parents and younger brothers Durzi watched as the first round, and the beginning of the second, passed by.

“I was almost having flashbacks,” he said. “It was a dream come true.”

Durzi played on a pairing with the Leafs 2018 first-round pick and fellow Ontario Hockey League defender Rasmus Sandin.


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Durzi said the two have bonded quickly despite Sandin’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds bouncing Durzi’s Attack from the 2018 OHL playoffs.

They’re both going through the week’s routine of bussing from the hotel to practice, seminars, team meals and workouts.

He said the week is about paying attention to the little things that make-up a professional hockey player.

Durzi returned to the Attack after his draft-day disappointment in 2017 with a positive outlook and determined work ethic.

But he wasn’t playing with a chip on his shoulder, he said he chose to drive himself internally rather than focus on external noise.

“You can pay attention to what other people are watching, but are you watching yourself?” he said.

In 40 games Durzi racked up 15 goals and 34 assists with the Attack. He was sidelined by an ankle injury for over a third of the season, but came back in time for the playoffs where he recorded 16 points (4 goals, 12 assists) in 11 games and quarterbacked the league’s third-best postseason power play.

Seven of his 12 playoff assists came with the man-advantage.

“It’s amazing. It really shows about Sean’s character and not throwing the towel in,” said Owen Sound general manager Dale DeGray.

The draft was a week ago now. Durzi said the end result was worth the long wait, but knows he’s really just at the start of another road.

“I went through eight-and-a-half rounds of the draft,” he said. “That experience is over now . . . this is the beginning. I know I have so many areas to work on and I am focused on getting better.”


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