TORONTO — Maple Leafs defenseman Paul Ranger had much to talk about after Tuesday's morning skate at the Air Canada Centre.
He is looking forward to an off-day fishing trip next week, when Toronto visits Tampa. And he is trying to sell his Tampa home.
What Ranger politely declined to discuss was why in October 2009 he abruptly left the Lightning and pro hockey for what was called a personal leave of absence.
"Listen, I leave the past behind," Ranger said. "I'm here now. That's all I'm focusing on. My private life is my private life."
Ranger, 29, who last season returned to play for Toronto's AHL affiliate, has two goals and nine points in 36 games with an average 18:55 of ice time. He did not play against the Lightning, his 11th straight game as a healthy scratch.
Ranger said the biggest obstacle in his return was not fitness. He even credited the arduous training camps run by former Lightning coach John Tortorella for setting a high baseline.
"The game has changed a little bit," Ranger said. "It's little things, the way people play three-on-twos, two-on-ones, one (player) behind the other, drop plays, funky stuff."
"Of course it's tough," Ranger said of the scratches. "It's a mental challenge. I'm just looking forward to my next opportunity."