Connor Carrick of the Toronto Maple Leafs has been on the outs for stretches of this season, as Mike Babcock demands more from the young defenseman.
“He's got to play quicker, got to play harder, got to be more assertive, you've got to be better defensively," Babcock said to The Athletic's Joshua Kloke. These are all things he and I talk about on a regular basis. You're always – some guys are just in every night no matter what they do, they've just earned the right to be. Other guys are on a tryout every night and you think it's going to end after one year and it usually lasts about 10, their whole career. You're just on a tryout every day and the real hungry, hungry people – you see it all the time – it's not necessarily the most skilled guy, it's the guy with the greatest drivetrain (who) becomes a real good pro and plays every day. He just finds a way because he's that competitive. The ball is in his court.”
Carrick, the health and wellness nut for the team, believes his eating habits will be a solution to his problems, and improve his play on the ice.
As a junior hockey player, Carrick would enjoy an ice cream as his pre-game meal regularly, something he didn't realize at the time could affect his health and energy levels long-term. He is one of those fortunate enough to be able to put anything into his body and not have it show outwardly. But with the uprise of healthy food trends, Carrick has become obsessed with what he eats, and has become the guy teammates turn to in order to inform themselves on proper nutritional choices.
Nazem Kadri apparently likes his cookies a bit too much, and Carrick has to keep him in line.
Either way, Carrick knows he needs to be better, and hopes this is one of the major solutions to improving his game. And when hockey inevitably ends for him, he knows he could easily have a career in the health field lined up - and he alluded to going in that direction when he hangs up his skates.