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.

Additional roster cuts announced: Prior to embarking on a pre-season tour of Western Canada, the Maple Leafs assigned several players to the St. John’s camp … sent to the “Rock” were goaltenders Vladimir Kulikov and Mike Minard, blueliners Chad Allan, David Cooper, Tyler Harlton, Hugo Marchand, and Allan Rourke and forwards Vladimir Antipov, Syl Apps, Jonathan Gagnon, Mikael Hakansson, Bobby House, Jacques Lariviere, Frantisek Mrazek, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Jason Sessa, and Morgan Warren … the Leafs also sent Brad Boyes back to the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League after a most impressive showing by their 2000 first round selection …

Health concerns sideline Cereda: After impressing almost everyone with the overall quality of his game, Luca Cereda’s season is now officially over … The Maple Leafs announced this week that ECG tests on the 19-year-old center taken during training camp medicals had detected a slight heart murmur … further tests have revealed that one of the three valves in Cereda’s heart is not functioning properly, a condition that he has had since birth … Luca is now expected to undergo surgery to replace the faulty valve and will miss the remainder of the season while recovering … at this time, it is unknown whether the surgery will be performed in Toronto or back in Cereda’s native Switzerland … although this news represents a setback to both the player and to the organization, Cereda is very fortunate that the condition has finally been diagnosed … he is expected to be stronger than ever upon his return next season …

Antropov update: In more news directly affecting the long term success of the Maple Leafs hockey club – 20 year-old Nik Antropov is recovering nicely following major knee surgery and is right on schedule for late November return … Big Nik is now back on the blades and skating at the team’s new practice facility, albeit alone (and far from potential contact) for the time being … he reports some initial awkwardness but, more importantly, no discomfort in the surgically repaired joint … in an exciting sidebar to this story – months spent in rehab under the close direction of Leafs’ stellar Athletic Therapist, Chris Broadhurst, have left Antropov perhaps 15 – 20 pounds heavier and very noticeably larger in the upper body … after some initial tentative play following his return to the line-up, look for Antropov to take a very significant step forward with the Maple Leafs this season …

Leafs Trivia I: Only two players whose surnames begin with the letter “U” have appeared in a regular season contest with the Toronto Maple Leafs … ironically, both skaters were involved in the same multi-player trade in 1968 … name these players (answer below Whatever happened to) …

Leafs Trivia II: Complete this deal … Arnie Brown, Bill Collins, Dick Duff, Bob Nevin and Rod Seiling to the New York Rangers on February 22, 1964 in exchange for (answer below Trivia I answer) …

Who am I: One of the very few Honored Members in the Hockey Hall of Fame who didn’t begin playing in the NHL full-time until I was well past the age of thirty … I am, of course, also one of the very few players to have gotten such a late career start and yet still manage to hang around for more than 10 big-league seasons (answer below Trivia II answer) …

Final roster decisions loom: With approximately one week to go before Waiver Draft decisions must be made and two weeks before they must finalize their 23-man roster, the Maple Leafs are working the phones in an attempt to alleviate an apparent excess of NHL caliber players … hulking blueliner Chris McAllister is one name that is being mentioned prominently in current trade discussions … returning netminders Curtis Joseph & Glenn Healy will certainly be protected … the Maple Leafs seemingly have 20 skaters to consider and are allowed to protect only 18 … this means that the Leafs will have to get rid of at least two bodies before the waiver draft or risk losing these players for cash … the real challenge might involve getting the final 23 man roster finalized … there are several players to be considered for the 2000 / 2001 roster (Alyn McCauley, Tomas Kaberle, Adam Mair, Jeff Farkas and rookies Mikael Hakanson and Petr Svoboda) that are exempt from the Waiver Draft …injured players Bryan Berard, Nik Antropov and Yanic Perreault will not be on the 23-man roster to start the season, but the Maple Leafs will quickly have to find places for Antropov and Perreault when they are ready to return from injuries … should the Leafs fail to make a deal before the Waiver Draft, likely candidates for exposure are Gary Valk and Gerald Diduck, both of whom were also available in last June’s expansion draft … a pre-season trade or two could still alter this picture to a very significant degree …

Baby Leafs win opener: The St. John’s Maple Leafs scored three times in the third period to defeat the Kansas City Blades 4-2 in the club’s first preseason game on September 20th … Tyler Harlton, Frantisek Mrazek, David Cooper and Jeff Farkas scored for the Maple Leafs, who out shot the Blades by a 29-26 count … goal scorers for the Blades were Nathan Barrett and Mike Brown … St. John’s led 1-0 after the first period and the teams were tied 1-1 after the second period … the teams exploded for four goals in the third period including scoring three in a 49 second span to round out the scoring … Brad Boyes had 2 assists in the win, while Farkas and Harlton added assists to give them multiple point afternoons … goaltenders Jamie Hodson (0GA/7 Saves), Mike Minard (1GA/8 Saves), and Vladimir Kulikov (1GA/9 Saves) split the goaltending duties for St. John’s …

Wendel to be honored: While the Leafs remain very secretive about their plans for the season opener on October 7th against the Montreal Canadiens at the Air Canada Centre, expect former captain Wendel Clark to officiate at the ceremonial face-off … an announcement concerning Clark’s new role as a team ambassador is expected within weeks …

Prospect thumbnail – Mikael Tellqvist (G): There has certainly been a great deal of talk around Leafs’ camp concerning this young Swedish goalie considering the fact he is not actually in attendance … most Leafs fans were left scratching their heads when Tellqvist was selected in the 3rd Round at the 2000 draft as he was not even listed in the Central Scouting Bureau’s final rankings … as it turns out, Mikael was unranked by CSB because he is now 21 years old – Central Scouting does not include players over the age of 20 in their rankings … Tellqvist had been chosen to represent Sweden at the 1999 WJC but ultimately missed the tournament due to a fractured skull … this sounds very serious (and may have scared off many interested NHL teams) but he has recovered completely from the injury … this past season Mikael became the number one goalie in Djurgarden, replacing former NHLer Tommy Soderstrom … Djurgarden won the SEL championship, due in no small part to Mikael’s efforts in goal … more recently, Mikael was named Sweden’s number one keeper at the pre-season Euro Tournament and performed brilliantly … the Maple Leafs feel that they have found a real treasure in this unheralded youngster and their fans are most anxious for Mikael to begin playing in North America at the earliest possible date …

Whatever happened to: Alexei Kudashov …

Trivia I answer: Norm Ullman and Garry Unger were both key elements in the big Frank Mahovlich trade between the Maple Leafs and Red Wings … Ullman followed up on years of high productivity in Detroit with sev
eral more outstanding seasons in Toronto … Unger enjoyed a long and highly successful NHL tenure, primarily with the St. Louis Blues where he strung together 8 seasons of 30 or more goals without ever missing a single game due to injury …

Trivia II answer: Andy Bathgate and Don McKenney… arguably the greatest player in New York Rangers history, Bathgate was still very much at the top of his game when Punch Imlach came calling … Toronto’s objective at the time was to add one more key ingredient to an already strong line-up in preparation for a Stanley Cup title defense … thanks in part to the expected big contribution from Bathgate (and also a surprisingly strong one from McKenney), the Maple Leafs did repeat as champions in the spring of 1964 … for their part, the Rangers sought youth and added roster depth which would eventually produce a string of very good New York teams throughout the late 60’s and early 70’s …

Who am I answer: Johnny Bower was 33 year-old when he arrived in Toronto and would go on to backstop the Maple Leafs to multiple NHL championships during the 1960’s … the “China Wall”, though an affable and gregarious fellow away from the rink, was actually an incredibly intense competitor who would often become furious after giving up goals during team practice sessions … in an amazing feat of athletic prowess Bower, playing one of the most demanding positions in all of professional sports, was still performing his job superbly well past the age of forty …

Look for continuing coverage of all important happenings throughout the pre-season here at your headquarters for Maple Leafs’ prospect news – Hockey’s Future.

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