Not even an hour into his first public appearance as a Maple Leaf, 30-year-old Indianapolis native John-Michael Liles made a positive impact on the Maple Leafs organization and more importantly, the city of Toronto. Within 10 minutes of sporting the blue and white last Tuesday, Liles was at Toronto SickKids Hospitalchatting with youngsters and signing autographs for the ecstatic Leaf fans.
“I know a lot about the Maple Leafs organization and the history involved with it,” Liles told the media. “Having played in the West, growing up an American kid, you have a sense of it, but you don’t fully realize it but now I’m a part of it and it’s going to catch on pretty quickly,” he added.
Liles, who had a strong role within the Denver community while playing for the Avalanche, is looking to continue his community involvement and become a positive role model for not only what is expected of the newly acquired defenseman come this October, but for his involvement off the ice.
The Maple Leafs who make many community appearances throughout the year, have always had an influential role in the Toronto community. They have seen many great players dawn the blue and white and become heroes for their off-ice charitable work around the city. This has become more evident since team President and General Manager Brian Burke was hired by the organization as he has pushed for excellence on and off the ice and has pushed his players to become more active in the Toronto community since coming on board.
For a team that is once again starting to become relevant in the NHL; while sporting one of the youngest rosters in the league and mending a connection between fans and players that has been lost for a good part of this last decade, there was no better way for Liles to make his Maple Leafs debut. There is no telling what will happen come October, but John-Michael Liles has wasted no time winning over the hearts of those in Leafs land.