TORONTO – They were making Morgan Rielly hold the shopping bags as they strolled through Eaton Centre during a rare day off the ice. Nazem Kadri was there and so was the 24-year-old walking backwards and documenting the light mocking of his junior teammate with a cell phone camera. Then he tripped over a garbage can. Things just aren’t going Jake Gardiner’s way these days. Gardiner has been a healthy scratch in each of the past two games, an odd show of faith to a player who signed for five years and more than $20 million in late July. The Maple Leafs, though, have consistently taken a tough love kind of approach to the former Ducks first round pick. The results mostly indicate that such an approach has failed to reap much in the way of reward, Gardiner struggling to find consistent form in each of the past two seasons – some of that, no doubt, the growing pains of a young defenceman. In question is whether such an approach is beneficial to the long-term development of a talent the organization is clearly high on, but also someone whom the head coach, Randy Carlyle, has prodded most often. Tough love from a coach can have its benefits, say various players in the Toronto room, but only if the personality in question is right for that type of motivation. Some respond to old-school types, benefiting from constant barks in the ear. Dion Phaneuf, for example, recalls his time under hard-edged former Flames coach, Mike Keenan, fondly. Others need that positive voice. Nazem Kadri would probably fall more under the latter. He took his share of prodding over his early Toronto years from the likes of Dallas Eakins and Ron Wilson. And while he hated it, he also was the fiery type to respond to it. “It sucks,” said Kadri. “I don’t like it all. But I’m not going to let it ruin my confidence or my self-esteem as a player because at the end of the day I know what I can do and I believe in myself. “I don’t want to say it works because then they’ll just keep giving me tough love,” he continued. “[But] I think I respond well to it. It doesn’t really bother me. I’m a pretty thick-skinned kid, even going back to minor hockey; I’ve had some pretty tough coaches. I don’t like it so much and sometimes I’m not so patient with it, but I think I react well. It doesn’t really bother me. It’s not like I go into a shell after I get ripped out or reamed out, I just continue playing my game.” Gardiner isn’t really that fiery type. And the odd seat in the press-box or even down to the Marlies hasn’t done much to affect his performance positively. When the lockout ended in Jan. 2013, Gardiner was first healthy scratched and then sent to the American League, where he lingered unhappily for weeks. He finally returned to the NHL in March – amid the ranting of fans, media and his agent at the time – played a couple games, and then was sent back to the press box for the final days of the regular season and even Game 1 of the playoffs. Gardiner flourished when the Leafs turned to him for the rest of that playoff series with Boston, but promptly struggled again the following fall – drawing another prominent healthy scratch in late November. Is this the best way, then, to motivate Gardiner? A player, mind you, who questioned his security with the Leafs before – amid ongoing trade rumours – only to believe he was done with all that when the team sprung for a five-year deal in the summer. There’s nothing wrong with scratching a player from time to time despite media and fan protests, but to do so three games in the season – given the history of disconnect between player and team, the splashy new deal, and fact that said player hadn’t played so poorly – seems off the mark. Gardiner has ultimately been pushed out of the lineup by rookie Stuart Percy, an early revelation in a top-four role. But is removing Gardiner, who was by far the Leafs top possession player a year ago and leading defensive point-getter at even-strength, best for the team and best for his development as a young player? That’s unlikely, especially given the predictable early season struggles of Stephane Robidas. Carlyle, speaking generally, says his motivational tactics are dependent on the individual. “I think a lot of that is feel and a lot of it is personality,” he said. “Some people take coaching as criticism and other people take criticism as personal. Those things are things that you to weigh and have to measure when you’re applying it.” Carlyle admits to making mistakes in how he’s handled things in the past, though not specifically with Gardiner. Sometimes, he says, it might be the wrong time or the wrong setting for certain tactics. “We’re all human,” he said. “We all make mistakes. Those are things that you have to gauge with experience. I think those are learning curves for a coach.” Communication can make all the difference. And to Carlyle’s credit, he has been up front with Gardiner about why he’s not playing – though not anymore so than usual. He’s told the Minnesota native that his play hasn’t been up to the level that they expect. Today’s players, Carlyle says, want more of that. They want answers and responsibility. And despite his old-school leanings, it’s apparent that Carlyle has tried to adapt. There was a point last year before a game in Philadelphia that saw him bring Gardiner onto the visitors’ bench at Wells Fargo Center, pull out the iPad and show him a few video clips on what needed improvement. More of that might be helpful. And through some film dissection this fall, Gardiner has been told that he needs to contain the opposition more effectively in the defensive zone and move the puck quicker. Cody Franson wasn’t afforded such treatment by the team’s previous head coach, Ron Wilson, during his first training camp in Toronto. Franson found out he’d be the seventh defenceman to start the regular season not from the coach himself, but from an online video of the coach speaking to media. The worst part about it, he says, was leaving the rink every day uncertain of why he wasn’t playing and when he’d get back in. “When I went through it it wasn’t the best thing for me,” Franson said. “But every guy’s a little different. Some guys need stuff like that. Some guys just need to be talked to. It all depends on the individual.” “It always helps when you get some words of encouragement,” Kadri observed. The leash for Gardiner, however, has seemed short at times and especially now. He seemed to say as much in his exit meeting with Carlyle last spring – revelations that went beyond the imagination of the head coach. All that being said, Carlyle did doll out more even-strength minutes to Gardiner than any other player on the team last season, an indication of trust if there was ever was one. “We feel that we have a quality hockey player that can play to a higher level and he agrees with that,” said Carlyle earlier this week. “So to me that’s end of story.” Asked what Gardiner could do to impress once he earned another opportunity, Carlyle responded bluntly, “Play better.” Time will tell if he does and Carlyles tough-love approach is worth pursuing. Jordan Schroeder Jersey . Still, Encarnacion felt a sense of relief. He felt a pop just before crumpling to the ground after running out a groundball in the first inning of Saturdays game. It could have been worse. “Its going to take maybe two weeks,” said Encarnacion. “It depends how Im going to be and how Im going to be day after day, feeling better or not. Columbus Blue Jackets Gear . While the pair of Spain internationals return, midfielder Xavi Hernandez will not be included in the squad after failing to recover from a muscle strain to his left leg. http://www.officialbluejacketsfanstore.c...ckets-jersey/.C. -- Theyll remember the OT from the first Syracuse-Duke game -- and the Ts that decided Round 2. Lukas Sedlak Jersey . As if the individual strands of grey hair or the increasing amount of joint pain werent reminders enough, the impending end of Jeters career is a slap-in-the-face indicator of a generations fleeting youth. Mark Letestu Jersey . - Vince Wilfork has played only two career games in Kansas City. CHICAGO -- Chris Johnson can rest easy during the All-Star break. He earned a couple days off. Johnson had three hits, including his third homer in two days, and the Atlanta Braves beat the Chicago Cubs 10-7 on Sunday to keep pace with Washington at the top of the NL East. Johnson hit a long drive to straightaway centre field for a three-run shot in a four-run third inning against Travis Wood (7-8). Johnson also went deep twice in the Braves 11-6 victory at Wrigley Field on Saturday. "The biggest thing for me is the fact Im swinging at strikes," he said. "When I swing at strikes, I can do some good things." Atlanta (52-43) has won three of four since a four-game losing streak. It heads into the break one percentage point behind the division-leading Nationals, who won 10-3 at Philadelphia. "We had a pretty good first half, better than pretty good," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Now weve got to enjoy this break and come out in the second half and keep firing." The Braves played without struggling second baseman Dan Uggla, who was suspended by the team for the series finale at Chicago. Atlanta announced the punishment on its Twitter feed, with no further explanation, and Gonzalez called it an "internal matter." The last-place Cubs (40-54) have lost eight of 10. Arismendy Alcantara and Chris Coghlan each hit a two-run homer off All-Star Julio Teheran (9-6). It was the first career shot for the 22-year-old Alcantara, who also had a bloop double in the first and is batting .391 (9 for 23) in his first five major league games. "With my ability, Im having fun," Alcantara said. "It can be fast. Im having fun." Chicago scored three times in the eighth, highlighted by John Bakers two-run double, but Jordan Walden got Junior Lake to fly out to centre with a runner on second for the final out of the inning. All-Star Craig Kimbrel then worked the ninth for his 29th save in 33 opportunities. "We put ourselves in a position potentially to even edge closer, and we just fell a little short," Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. Teheran pitched seven innings in his firstt start since a rough outing against the Mets.dddddddddddd The right-hander lasted just 3 1-3 innings in an 8-3 loss at New York on Tuesday. Teheran retired 12 in a row after Chicago put runners on first and second with two out in the first. He allowed seven hits while improving to 2-0 in four career starts against the Cubs. "I know that my last outing I didnt have a good outing," said Teheran, who is ineligible for the All-Star game because he started on Sunday. "Just trying to come back like I did twice this year." Wood was charged with seven runs and seven hits in six innings. The left-hander is 0-3 with a 6.49 ERA in his last five starts. Wood issued leadoff walks in the second, third and fourth innings, and the first two were costly. Gerald Laird had a two-run double in Atlantas three-run second, and Jason Heyward singled home a run before Johnson connected in the third. Johnsons sixth homer was part of his 30th multihit game of the season. The third baseman was walked intentionally in the seventh to get to Tommy La Stella, who doubled home three runs to give the Braves a 10-2 lead. The 34-year-old Uggla has played sparingly since La Stella was promoted from Triple-A Gwinnett on May 28. The three-time All-Star is batting .162 with two homers and 10 RBIs in 48 games. Gonzalez said he expects Uggla to be with the team when it resumes play on Friday night against the Phillies. He also isnt worried about the effect of the suspension on his team. "I dont think so. I got a pretty good pulse of our clubhouse," he said. "If anybody wants to talk to me, my door is always open. And they know that." NOTES: Atlanta also promoted INF Phil Gosselin from Gwinnett before the game. ... Wood will start Chicagos second game after the All-Star break. RHP Edwin Jackson (5-10, 5.64 ERA) starts the series opener Friday night, and RHP Jake Arrieta (5-1, 1.95 ERA) pitches next Sunday against the Diamondbacks. ... RHP Ervin Santana (7-6, 4.01 ERA) will start Friday night against Philadelphia in Atlantas first game after the break. But Gonzalez said he wasnt sure just yet how the rest of the rotation would line up. 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