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.

Camp cuts – round two: The Toronto Maple Leafs this week announced that five additional players have been assigned to St. John’s of the AHL … they are forwards Konstantin Kalmikov, Shawn Thornton and Michel Travnicek and defencemen Petr Svoboda and Dimitri Yakushin … Kalmikov played with St. John’s last season and scored a career high 28 points (8G,20A) in 78 games … Thornton also played with St. John’s last year, scoring 16 points (4G,12A) in 60 games and leading the team in penalty minutes for the third straight year with 316 … Travnicek, who was Toronto’s 9th choice 1998, played with Litinov of the Czech Elite League last season and scored 9 points (3G,6A) in 51 games …Yakushin is also starting his third season with St. John’s, where he scored 14 points (G,13A) in 64 games last season … Svoboda, the most surprising name to be included on this list, played with Trinec of the Czech Elite League last season and has been a standout at the Leafs’ Main Camp this month … Toronto’s rationale seems to be that they want the young Czech blueliner to log heavy ice time early in the season while they are in the process of settling personnel on their NHL roster …

Lumme rumours re-surface: Sources in Toronto and Phoenix indicate that the Maple Leafs have resumed their pursuit of Coyotes’ defenceman Jyrki Lumme … you may recall that Toronto chased the Finnish defender aggressively when he was an unrestricted free agent two summers ago … Lumme was a reliable performer for Pat Quinn when both were in Vancouver during the 1990s … Lumme, 34, would represent a very adequate replacement for Alexander Karpovtsev should his current contract stalemate continue … Lumme, however, would apparently need to waive a no-trade clause in his contract in order for this transaction to happen … in an interesting twist on this story, another published report suggests that the Leafs would send Karpovtsev (once he signs) and Igor Korolev to Chicago who would in turn ship Bryan McCabe to Phoenix with Toronto then receiving Lumme from the Coyotes … the Maple Leafs are also said to remain very interested in Vancouver defenseman/cannon, Adrian Aucoin … in any case, it seems relatively certain that Karpovtsev won’t be back with the team and that a compensatory move is being contemplated … my sources tell me that the team will be pulling the trigger on something significant this week …

Waiver Draft news: The Maple Leafs were anxious to shed excess bodies and may have secretly hoped to lose a player or two in Friday’s waiver draft … the Leafs left only one player exposed – Gerald Diduck – who seemed destined for the final roster … each team protected two goaltenders and 18 skaters … the Leafs currently have 21 NHL calibre-players who were subject to the waiver draft, including injured defenceman Bryan Berard … goaltenders Curtis Joseph and Glenn Healy were protected and Jimmy Waite was left available … on defence, the Leafs protected Dmitry Yushkevich, Danny Markov, Dave Manson, Cory Cross and Alexander Karpovtsev, leaving Diduck and Berard exposed … Tomas Kaberle is a third-year pro and was therefore exempt from the process … among the forwards, the Leafs basically protected the whole group … Mats Sundin, Steve Thomas, Jonas Hoglund, Darcy Tucker, Igor Korolev, Yanic Perreault, Sergei Berezin, Dmitri Khristich, Garry Valk, Tie Domi, Shayne Corson and Gary Roberts were on Toronto’s protected list … Alyn McCauley and Nik Antropov were exempt … a bigger problem for the Leafs is the 23-man roster that must set by the day before the regular season begins … it will certainly include Kaberle and McCauley and spots will have to be found if any of Adam Mair, Jeff Farkas and Don MacLean are also to remain … in addition, positions will have to be cleared for both Perreault and Antropov when they return from their respective injuries … LATE UPDATE: The Leafs neither lost nor added anyone in the Waiver Draft on Friday …

Leafs Trivia I: Three former Maple Leafs’ defensemen have coached the St. Louis Blues since their inception in 1967 … name these players (answer below Whatever happened to) …

Leafs Trivia II: Complete this deal … Trevor Johansen and the late Don Ashby to the Colorado Rockies on March 13, 1979 in exchange for (answer below Trivia I answer) …

Who am I: While in Junior Hockey with the Toronto Marlboros, I was often (rather unfairly) compared to Bobby Orr, who was then starring with the Oshawa Generals … although I was never quite able to live up to this huge advance billing, I did accumulate 327 points in 8 seasons on the Maple Leafs’ blueline (answer below Trivia II answer) …

Waite sidelined: Jimmy Waite, the man that is being counted on to help carry the St. John’s Maple Leafs back to respectability this year, has been unable to play since the big team’s western swing due to severe dizzy spells … the goaltender is concerned that he is experiencing a recurrence of the vertigo that kept him out of the St. John’s line-up for 3 weeks last season … for the time being, backups Mike Minard and Vlad Kulikov (and eventually Jamie Hodson) will have to hold the fort on the Rock …

The Farkas factor: Lost amid the training camp exploits of fellow youngsters MacLean and Mair, speed merchant Jeff Farkas finally took center stage in Toronto’s recent exhibition win over the Canucks in Vancouver … the Boston College grad combined with linemates Sergei Berezin and Igor Korolev to strafe the Vancouver net throughout the game and picked up 3 points (2 goals – 1 assist) … while Farkas may ultimately be sent to St. John’s as the Leafs try to sort out their big league roster, there is little doubt that Jeff will be a successful NHL sniper in time … his game already bears a striking resemblance to that of former NCAA standout and current Black Hawk’s scoring star, Tony Amonte …

Nemirovsky sent down: Winger David Nemirovsky, a late addition to Toronto’s Training Camp roster, has been demoted to St’ John’s … Nemirovsky was also available to all takers in the NHL Waiver Draft on September 29th but was not taken … while David seem to have little chance of ever suiting up for the Maple Leafs, he is considered a solid performer at the AHL level and further augments a potentially outstanding group of forwards available to play for the Baby Leafs this season …

Big Mac Philly bound: To help prepare for the NHL’s Waiver Draft (see story above), the Maple Leafs traded gigantic defender, Chris McAllister, to the Philadelphia Flyers for raw defensive prospect Regan Kelly, now an NCAA freshman at Providence College … the trade of McAllister was expected as Toronto had been shopping him aggressively rather than risk losing him for nothing in the Waiver Draft … Kelly, the player coming to the Leafs, is even more unpolished than McAllister but doesn’t yet have an impact on their bloated roster due to his relative youth … the 19-year-old played 46 games with the Nipawin Hawks of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League last season, picking up eight goals and 21 assists … he was the Flyers’ eighth-round selection (259th overall) in the June entry draft. …

Prospect thumbnail – Syl Apps III (C): If the name sounds strangely familiar, that’s because this young man is the son of former NHLer Syl Apps Jr. who racked up more than 600 points in 10 big league seasons … he is also the grand-son of Maple Leafs immortal Syl Apps, very possibly the greatest captain in team history … although he made an early impression through his spirited play during early Training Camp scrimmages, Apps was one of the first players dispatched to S
t. John’s … signed by Toronto as a free agent last summer following a solid NCAA career at Princeton University, Apps played decently in Newfoundland last season and was used primarily as a checking center by the club … with so many talented players moving up through the farm system to the AHL level this season, Syl may be hard pressed to retain his place in St. John’s … while an NHL opportunity in Toronto remains a rather remote possibility, it would certainly make for a wonderful gesture to one of the club’s all-time greats if Apps could be afforded a chance to play even one game in blue and white this year …

Whatever happened to: Zdenek Nedved …

Trivia I answer: Al Arbour, Leo Boivin and Joel Quenneville …

Trivia II answer: Paul Gardner … already a two-time 30 goal scorer in Colorado, Gardner was acquired by the Maple Leafs in a desperate attempt to bolster their attack beyond the outstanding Darryl Sittler – Lanny McDonald combination … though he completed the 1978/79 season strongly with the Leafs (7 goals in 11 games) Toronto’s front office couldn’t seem to get past Paul’s rather inelegant skating style and he played only part of the next season in blue and white before finally being dispatched to the minors … in 1980, Gardner returned to the NHL with Pittsburgh and would again average over 30 goals per year in 3+ seasons with the Penguins …

Who am I answer: Jim “Howie” McKenny was known as much for quips as for hockey skills during his tenure with the Maple Leafs … McKenny also appeared in the popular movie “Face-Off” (as Art Hindle’s hockey double) during his playing career … in recent years, he has become a very popular Sportscaster in the Toronto area …

The regular season is almost upon us – watch for regular updates on all Toronto personnel (whether playing in the NHL or elsewhere) here at your headquarters for Maple Leaf news and views – Hockey’s Future.