It’s no secret that when you play for the Maple Leafs, you’re a household name in Toronto.
And for reasons good and bad, just about every Toronto hockey fan knew Jake Gardiner very well.
But the newly-minted Hurricanes defenseman, who recently signed a four-year contract with Carolina, has taken his talents far away from the bright lights and intense media scrutiny in Toronto. And as he prepares for the upcoming season, Gardiner can’t help but notice how different playing hockey in the southern United States can be.
Jake Gardiner on life in Carolina: "I can be pretty anonymous here. Especially now. My first fan experience was at the golf tournament, this guy came up and said, 'Can you take a photo of me with the mascot?' So I took the picture of him and the mascot. And I was on the team."— Emily Kaplan (@emilymkaplan) September 22, 2019
By the sounds of it, it seems like nobody in Toronto had ever asked the talented defenceman to take their picture with Carlton the Bear.
Gardiner spent eight seasons with the Maple Leafs prior to joining the Hurricanes this summer. He was one of three regulars from last season’s defensive core to depart Toronto in the offseason. The other two, Nikita Zaitsev and Ron Hainsey, are now with the Ottawa Senators.
On the ice, Gardiner joins one of the deepest defensive cores in the NHL as the Hurricanes look to prove that last year’s trip to the Eastern Conference finals was no fluke. But off the ice, the defenseman is likely hoping that he becomes a little more recognizable than the team’s mascot.
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