Not that Mike Babcock necessarily would like another shot, but the Maple Leafs coach acknowledged on Saturday the Leafs wanted to keep defenceman Matt Hunwick last summer. Instead, Hunwick left the Leafs after two seasons in Toronto to sign a three-year contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins. “He was a real role model for people, did things right every day,” Babcock said. “We were always impressed by him. “We tried to sign Hunny again. He got a better deal here in Pittsburgh. That’s what you have to do as a player. I was excited for him, he got a three-year deal.” On the same day, July 1, the Leafs signed defenceman Ron Hainsey to a two-year contract, effectively replacing Hunwick. Hainsey has been solid for the Leafs, forming a sharp pair with Morgan Rielly. Hunwick enjoyed his time as a Leaf, as brief as it was. “Just the fan base and the (hockey) culture up there (made it a positive experience),” Hunwick said. “What we were able to do, making the playoffs last year, and to see the support we had was pretty special. “It was my third Original Six team (along with the New York Rangers and Boston Bruins) so I’ve had the good fortune of playing for some really good organizations and it’s no different here in Pittsburgh.” SID VS. AUSTON Hainsey was not a teammate of Sidney Crosby for long — not quite five months after the Penguins acquired him from Carolina last season — but when Hainsey watches Leafs teammate Auston Matthews play, he sees similarities with Crosby.
Babcock: Leafs wanted to re-sign Hunwick, who went to Pittsburgh in free agency
Toronto Sun | Dec 11