Leafs coach Ron Wilson praised his rookie blueliner all season and while he isn’t shy in handing out accolades, he also isn’t shy in underlining a drop off in performance.
Gardiner’s rise — he stands a good chance to be named to the NHL’s rookie team — is framed by the fact he’s one of only four rookies in the league to exceed 20 minutes of ice time per game. On Tuesday, though, Gardiner emerged a minus player for the third game in a row.
Wilson said “we got to try and recharge his batteries somehow”
Gardiner doesn’t know of any miracles to help him with that adjustment. Rest, proper nutrition, and sleep, remain principles he must steadfastly stick to.
Gardiner’s goal is to remain confident. That, and a thick skin.
“I’ve had some tough coaches in hockey in the past. It helps you learn and become stronger mentally. You find out what it means to battle through adversity.”