The Weekend Warrior

By Randy Nicholson

Another in a series of weekly articles summarizing activity in Leafland during the previous 7 days – with some personal observations, commentary, prospect updates and fun thrown in for good measure.

Mikael Tellqvist news: The player now widely considered to be the Maple Leafs’ “goaltender of the future”, Mikael Tellqvist, is under contract with Djurgarden of the Swedish Elite League for the upcoming season … Tommy Soderstrom, the former Djurgarden starter, has retired and Mikael (the SEL Rookie of the Year in 1999 / 2000) expects to handle the bulk of the work there this year … Tellqvist was recently named to the Swedish National Team for the Ceske Pojistovna Tournament in the Czech Republic later this month and he should get the bulk of the playing time there as well … Tellqvist’s primary competition for the #1 job with the Swedish National Team, Johan Holmqvist, is not playing in the tournament as he has already left for the New York Rangers camp … Mikael feels strongly that he’d like to get at least a year of significant National Team experience before coming over to play in North America … at this time, he plans to re-evaluate his situation at the conclusion of this season … Mikael Tellqvist is an extremely important player in Toronto’s long range plans and we will be following his progress closely on behalf of all Leaf fans here at Hockey’s Future …

Training Camp additions: As in previous years, the Maple Leafs will offer Training Camp invitations to several veteran free agents, hoping to bolster the St. John’s roster and improve organizational depth … defender David Cooper is perhaps the best known player in this year’s group … Cooper, a former 1st Round pick by the Sabres, previously played in the Toronto organization from 1996 to 1998 … though he possesses size, outstanding speed and a blazing shot, David has yet to demonstrate these gifts consistently at the NHL level, though he has been a dominant player in the AHL … Cooper spent last season with Kassel of the German League and reportedly played very well … invitations have also been extended to former Canucks farmhands Chad Allen and Ryan Shannon … both players are defensemen who were with Syracuse of the AHL last season … Allen and Shannon are well known to the new Leafs’ personnel boss (also formerly a long time Vancouver executive) Mike Penny …

Leafs seeking new investors: The National Post reported this week that Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, the conglomerate that owns the Maple Leafs, the Raptors and the Air Canada Centre, is seeking additional capital investors in order to reduce the heavy debt load of principal shareholder Steve Stavro … it is rumored that the nation’s largest cable operator, Rogers Communications, is very interested in coming on board … Rogers has recently negotiated a deal to assume controlling ownership of the Toronto Blue Jays baseball club and with a stake in MLSE could gain a virtually monopoly on sports broadcasting in the lucrative southern Ontario marketplace … this move shouldn’t affect the Maple Leafs’ position as the main attraction on the CBC’s “Hockey Night in Canada” each Saturday evening but could see all mid-week games shift over to CTV Sportnet, another possible acquisition by Rogers Cable … analysts place the current market value of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment somewhere in the vicinity of 1 billion dollars …

Leafs Trivia I: Throughout their long history, the Maple Leafs have only employed 2 players whose surnames began with the letter “Q” … oddly enough, both men would eventually become highly successful NHL coaches after their playing careers were over … name both players (answer below Whatever happened to) …

Leafs Trivia II: Complete this deal … Bob McGill, Steve Thomas and Rick Vaive to the Black Hawks on September 4, 1987 in exchange for (answer below Trivia I answer) …

Who am I: Originally drafted from the Peterborough Petes by the Boston Bruins in 1982, I joined the Leafs as a free agent in 1988 … I hold the Maple Leafs’ team record for short handed goals in one season with 8, a mark that I share with Toronto icon Dave Keon (answer below Trivia II answer) …

Lindros rumors continue: The latest news on the Lindros trade front should really frighten every knowledgeable Toronto Maple Leafs fan … stories have begun to circulate that Bob Clarke wants to replace the size and abrasiveness that his team will lose when Lindros leaves by acquiring the Leafs’ young Russian stud, Nikolai Antropov … in addition, the Flyers are said to seek an offensively gifted defender and covet Tomas Kaberle … although no one would like to see Eric Lindros eventually don the blue and white more than I do, the Maple Leafs cannot even consider moving either one of their emerging superstars … Antropov and Kaberle, at 20 and 22 years of age respectively, symbolize a very bright future for the franchise …

Karpovtsev talks deteriorate: Negotiations between the Maple Leafs and defenseman Alexander Karpovtsev have broken down with both sides indicating little hope for an amicable solution … at this time, the sides are said to be approximately $1M per year apart in their respective positions … Karpovtsev plans to remain in Russia with Moscow Dynamo until a deal is in place … Alex’s agent is the now infamous Mark Gandler and you may recall that he orchestrated a similar scenario involving Dmitry Yushkevich last season (not to mention the ongoing Yashin fiasco up in Ottawa) … for their part, the Leafs seem to be tiring of Gandler’s antics and a trade involving Karpovtsev’s rights remains a distinct possibility … one rumor popping up around town has Toronto sending Karpovtsev and Igor Korolev (another Gandler client likely to adopt the same negotiating strategy prior to next season) to the Black Hawks in exchange for Eric Daze and Bryan McCabe … Karpovtsev and Korolev were both brought to Toronto by Chicago’s new de facto GM Mike Smith during his previous tenure with the Maple Leafs … although Daze and McCabe both underachieved last year with the Hawks, this proposal would add yet more size and grit to a roster already significantly upgraded in these areas since last season …

Talks regarding Wendel’s future underway: Leafs President Ken Dryden indicated that talks aimed at bringing Wendel Clark back into the team’s front office will take place soon … it is not known whether Wendel will be offered a position in player development or in community relations … Clark is considered one of the fiercest competitors in team history and bringing him back to into the organization would be both a popular and an appropriate gesture …

Prospect thumbnail – Frantisek Mrazek (LY/C): Big Frank was clearly the best player at the St. John’s training camp last fall but was unfortunately injured in the club’s first league game … he missed the entire 1999 / 2000 campaign as a result … Mrazek, a native of Ceske Budejovice in the Czech Republic, stands 6-4 and weighs in at 215 pounds … when on his game, he represents something that every NHL team seeks constantly – a bruising power forward capable of going to the net and maintaining position there regardless of the opponent’s best efforts to move him … with 2 years of Canadian major junior experience (with the Red Deer Rebels) already on his resume, Mrazek could move up through the farm system quickly …2000 / 2001 will be a key season in this youngster’s development and it will be interesting to follow his progress in September …

Whatever happened to: Lonny Bohonos …

Trivia I answer: Toronto’s “Q” brigade consists of current Leafs’ boss Pat Quinn and last season’s NHL Coach of the Year with the St. Louis Blues, Joel Quenneville …

Trivia II answer: Al Se
cord and Eddie Olczyk … big Al had been a very intimidating force with the Black Hawks prior to his arrival in Toronto … though still able to give and take punishment during his time with the Maple Leafs, Secord was not able to re-discover the goal scoring ability that had earlier made him so special in Chicago – no doubt because the Leafs had no one resembling Denis Savard on their roster at the time … if Secord was something of a disappointment following the big trade, Eddie Olczyk certainly delivered all that the Leafs could have expected and more, never falling below 30 goals in 3 plus seasons with the team … Olczyk also remained a model citizen during some very turbulent times in Toronto hockey history …

Who am I answer: Penalty killer deluxe Dave Reid … discarded by the Leafs soon after Cliff Fletcher assumed control of the team, Reid has certainly assembled a substantial NHL career for himself, surviving another 9 seasons including a Stanley Cup win in Dallas 2 years ago …

Rookie Camp gets underway on September 1st. Look for complete coverage of this important event here at your headquarters for Maple Leafs’ prospect news – Hockey’s Future.

Special thanks to Michael C. Deutsch for providing valuable information concerning Mikael Tellqvist’s status for the upcoming season.