Heavy London flavour in Leafs' first round series
LONDON, ONT. -- London Knights associate general manager Rob Simpson isn't about to show favouritism when it comes to his former players.
"That's why I have blue on, cheer for Columbus or the Leafs at the same time."
The Toronto Maple Leafs and Columbus Blue Jackets face each other in the first round of the NHL playoffs and there will be five former members of the organization suiting up.
"To watch one game and see so many of our former players playing it's going to be excellent," says Simpson, Knights associate general manager.
Mitch Marner and John Tavares will be suiting up for the Leafs. Scott Harrington, Josh Anderson and Liam Foudy all play for the Blue Jackets.
Dorchester's Boone Jenner is an assistant captain for Columbus.
However it's not just fans who have been longing for the return of competitive sports. Businesses rely heavily on playoff action to bring customers into their establishments.
Some bars have televisions set up on their patios, while others like Tiger Jacks are relying on spacing their tables out to welcome fans inside.
"We are really excited for playoffs to begin," says Jay Jackson, a manager at Tiger Jacks.
"We are trying erally hard for a nice safe environment, we have our tables separated, and there are multiple TVs to watch whatever sport you want."
Simpson didn't have a prediction for the Toronto-Columbus series but did feel defence and goaltending will be the key in this return to play.
He's also excited to watch Foudy - who was just a member of the Knights in March - make his NHL playoff debut.
"In his first exhibition game, he played well,” says Simpson.
"He showed speed and set up Jenner with a nice pass on the first goal. To step right from our team and league right in the NHL, it's impressive."
Simpson adds that the jump to the pros shows the level of competition London fans are accustomed to on a nightly basis in the OHL.
"It's special for him to get right in and do that. For someone who was just with us short time ago to play in first playoff game is pretty amazing," says Simpson.