TORONTO – US Thanksgiving Celebration Nick Robertson is back ines and he is really enjoying this day.
The chasm between them is wide.
“If I had a choice, it would be snowing all over my family back home in Michigan,” Robertson said. “We love having Honey Baked Ham … we like it. Family, friends, girlfriends, being around all things; bring them in and have some kind of fun.
“That would be my fantasy Thanksgiving.”
19-year-old Toronto Maple Leafs broadcasts this vision from the small suburban Airbnb he rents as he strives to turn his professional dreams into reality. He is now living on his own for the first time. The new domestic responsibilities took some adjustment and Robertson Chuckles took over while retelling a story about sending all the fire alarms in the apartment after trying to pan fry the steak in the oven.
Robertson last set foot in the United States in May.
Finally he saw his parents, Mercedes and Hugh or his four siblings. The California kid with strong Michigan roots made the difficult decision to stay in Canada after Maple Leafs were sacked to play back in the NHL in August because he felt it gave him the best chance to prepare for the upcoming season.
COVID sanctions are currently keeping families from gathering heavily, but most of his situation is already going home for the off-season. It’s been tough to stay away lately.
“Yeah, I think it’s a normal thing,” Robertson said. “It was very difficult, especially for my parents.”
This is especially difficult today. Nick is the family’s wonderful baby three months after his premature birth and after being rescued by a do – or – die shot that allows oxygen to reach his brain and lungs. He arrived on September 11, 2001, but did not leave the hospital for more than two months – returning home for the first time on U.S. Thanksgiving.
“This is the most important day of the year for us,” Hugh Robertson told the Toronto Star in 2019. “We have the newest take on Thanksgiving. He’s out.”
Nick is back at the Leafs Practice Facility, while his parents and a couple of siblings live together in Northville, Michigan. He approaches his craft with the same mindset that denies his age. Robertson is in the facility four times a week and visits over an average of over three hours, taking breaks between sessions at the gym and in the snow.
That work was the source of his confidence and part of a plan to earn a roster spot after the off-season, where he added six more forwards through Leafs Trades or Free Agency.
Now, three months after his NHL debut – Robertson played four playoff games inside the Bubble against Columbus – and two months after his 19th birthday, he made adjustments in the lab again and closely studied the tape of his performance against the Blue Jackets.
“I think I did very well,” Robertson said as he scored a goal and averaged 12 minutes per night. “I think you can tell I’m a little weird or nervous, but it’s to be expected according to where we are. Strange type.
“I think I have adapted to it now and I feel confident that it is for me again.”
Instead of going home after the leaves have been eliminated, he can do nothing. Robertson did not know how COVID restrictions would affect his ability to skate in California or Michigan, so he decided to work from a team facility. It also allowed him to avoid another 14 days of detention before the training camp because he did not cross the border.
He was on a worthy trip to The Littlest Hobo – staying with family friends in Windsor and then crashing into Jack Campbell’s house, then spending two weeks with Jake Muzzin’s family before renting his own short-term apartment.
Also, he started playing video games with Jack Hyman and spent the last two months training with other teammates from Toronto. He is now feeling less and less like a new person.
Mujjin opened his home and his family [wife] Courtney and [daughter] Luna, ”said Robertson. “I think it’s one of the best times I’ve ever been with him. I’ve been there for two weeks and got to know him. [understand] NHL lifestyle and asked him questions and everything. “
In the case of individual growth areas, they are not predictable. He made it a priority to add strength and energy to help men cope with the physical challenge they face. He also had a long trial-and-error period in the search for a more effective stick.
Robertson’s NHL’s brief interest felt he needed to find more space to make plays, so he began lowering his CCM by half an inch early each week. And he kept going lower and lower from there.
“It was weird, it seemed like a very short start to the week, but by the end of the week it seemed too long,” he says.
He settled three inches smaller than he used to be in the NHL Bubble. He is lowering the flex to make sure he doesn’t take anything away from the shot that helped Peterborough score 55 times in 46 Ontario Hockey League games last season.
“As a junior, I knew they knew who you were and they respected you,” Robertson said. “However, you go to the NHL, they know who you are, and they know you’re a teenager, they know they’re coming into your face and you’m going to cough or whatever.
“I’m a little stick type that gives me a little more control. If you think about it, the puck is close to your body, so it’s like that millisecond to make you move or play when the puck is close.”
It’s a young man chasing any edge he can find.
For Robertson, focusing on what he can achieve every day without worrying about the uncertainty around him. He is likely to borrow from Team USA for next month’s World Junior Tournament, depending on how quickly the NHL training camps begin. If he is not in the top 12 or 13 forwards in the Cap-Challenged Leafs after the start of the season, it is not entirely clear where he will play.
Those ideas are easy to push aside when you put nothing on the table with the preparation. This keeps Robertson out of Thanksgiving who loves to be with family today, but it does not make him feel less grateful for the life he is living.
“I know it’s hard to be away from home, but it’s a kind of blessing in disguise because it’s an experience that most 19-year-olds don’t have before stepping into the league,” he said.
“It’s a grind, sure, but it’s all for a reason.”