And heaven forbids another questioning mind to ask about the pressure of being a first round draft pick

Finally, on Monday 6-foot-7 defender Logan Stanley was asked about his first game in the NHL

That it would come so close to his hometown of Waterloo in Toronto was the icing on the cake of a cake that was about to bake

Stanley was named 18th in the 2016 NHL Draft Voted overall – 16 picks after the Jets picked Patrik Laine – and has proven to be the “other” kind of first-round player The kind that takes a few years to grow Not literally of course

One day the injured Laine missed the chance to win for his 307th To qualify for the game, Stanley pulled the fighter jet sweater over his bulky shoulders and competed against the team he had grown up with as an idol

The day before, Jets defense coach Charlie Huddy Stanley had hinted that this could be the big day

“I played with Beau in practice,” said Stanley, referring to Nathan Beaulieu. “So I had an idea and for the morning kate he told me I was in the line-up and I had a big smile on my face ”

Ordinarily, this would have meant a hasty phone call to his parents with a heads up so they might make it to the rink. Maybe a puzzle about tickets for a few other friends and family members

Instead, the 22-year-old should walk out to a sea of ​​empty seats, content with the knowledge they are all watching from safer rooms

“Of course I would love to have my family and friends here,” he said. “It’s a very special night for me and definitely something I’ve dreamed of for a long time. That’s a shame. But obviously there are bigger problems on the at the moment World so that’s fine just being in Toronto is pretty cool being only about an hour away from here and watching the leafs often

Home isn’t just the place where Stanley’s story began, and here it took a leap forward last summer

After an unforgettable year in which some wrote him off as a failure, Stanley was at an intersection

The Jets tended to have more blue-chip defensive perspectives around him, including Dylan Samberg from the 2017 round second and Ville Heinola from the 2019 round one

“Once you’ve done a draft, it doesn’t mean as much as you think,” said Stanley of the mystique of the first round. “After last season, I was obviously not happy with how it went”

“I just knew this was a big year, step on the metal and train as hard as I could this summer and it’s paying off here”

He also skated a lot more. His off-season partner happened to be team-mate Mark Scheifele, also from the Kitchener-Waterloo region

“He’s in great shape and showed me a lot of tricks and things,” Stanley said. “And when you skate with guys of that caliber you’ll get better and you’ll want to perform at their level”

Stanley was still adjusting to his height and having to get up on his feet faster. At training camp, he admitted that his fitness level was a big step in that direction

Stanley was listed on the Manitoba Moose AHL roster at £ 242 last season and has checked in at 228 this season

“Logan has been very committed to his fitness level this summer,” said Maurice on Sunday, “and has really shown from the start that he was in a completely different place than at any time since we had him”

It took a new baby in Dylan DeMelo and Tucker Poolman’s household who entered the COVID-19 protocol to get him into a game

“Obviously it’s another year and you don’t want anyone to get sick,” Stanley said, “But this stuff is going to happen and the guys have to be ready to play. Thankfully, I was next”

His reward: a date with Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and the rest of the soaring Leafs

“We tried to choose the team he had the hardest to play against,” Maurice said ahead of Monday’s game. “It’s a great test for him with the players and the speed that he will see A great yardstick for where he’s at in his young career ”

Stanley played for about 11 minutes and was on the ice for no goals as the Jets dropped a 3-1 decision

With a game he is a little older, a little wiser and a little faster

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Logan Stanley

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