‘HAPPY TO BE BACK’: Maple Leafs and their ‘stay ready squad’ set to go

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With equal parts a marathon, sprint, concert tour and science experiment, the Maple Leafs begin their 2021 season Wednesday night against the Montreal Canadiens.

It’s already unusual in that the 2020 part of the schedule has been lopped off and there’ll only be a smattering of media in Scotiabank Arena to watch what’s usually an intense opener with plenty of pomp and ceremony. But a huge COVID-19 quarantined audience is expected to watch or listen on TV and the players themselves are just anxious to get going.

“It’s been enough time off for everyone, enough uncertainty,” declared Leafs alternate captain Morgan Rielly, who’ll have a new blueline partner in TJ Brodie this season. “We’re just happy to be back playing hockey. We’re pumped to get going against these guys tonight, we play them 10 times.

“We just want to get back into a routine, driving to the rink at the normal time. (Wednesday) will be a little different than years past, but we’re fortunate to be playing and be back in the building.”

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