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Jake Gardiner’s giving nature driving Leafs offence

Gardiner’s personality, though, could include little irritations that would lead to memorable moments between the two, the kind of stuff common to brothers.

“All the time, we’d get in crazy disputes,” Rielly said.

“More just him carrying on and me not understanding something, and him not caring, and carrying on the line he was on,” Rielly said, laughing.

“I’m not quite as laid back as he is and he’d see that when he was carrying on like that. Like, he’d have an opinion on a TV show that I didn’t know and he’d be persistent, nothing important, but it’s the stuff you remember.

“We’d play this little racquet ball game in our condo, we’d play a lot of cards and some video games, and we’d end up in a fight, the good kind, it was lots of fun.”

Rielly had fun remembering some of Gardiner’s quirks, now that Gardiner is the most-productive Leaf over the past 15 games and getting rave reviews for his vision of the ice and tremendous passing abilities.

Gardiner twice set up William Nylander for breakaway goals Monday against Anaheim, including a two-line beauty in the third period.

Giving — whether it be passes or gestures for friends — seems to go hand in hand with Gardiner, Rielly said.

“Once, we went out to Joey’s for dinner and we (were eating) and some Marlies came in, so Jake moved a bunch of tables together because they (Marlies) didn’t have any seats,” Rielly said.

“I was half way through my meal, so I said, ‘no …’ But he just wanted to include everyone, the way he always does. I loved having him around.”

In the meantime, Gardiner said part of his success with assists and offence is rooted in the fact that his forwards are seeing seams in the opposition defence and using them to get open.

He’s also appreciative the “leash” coach Mike Babcock has given him to make plays. That comes with the understanding that, sometimes, mistakes come with that extension to be creative on the ice.

Babcock, like Rielly, didn’t quite see it that way when asked about Gardiner’s comments. But the coach, like Rielly, understands the payoffs in Gardiner’s play and personality.

“I don’t give him permission to do something stupid every night,” Babcock said.

“Obviously, he’s a good skater and an elite hockey sense helps. He’s a really good player who can help other people see things happen.”

TORONTO STAR