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.

Some Hot – Others Not: The St. John’s Maple Leafs seem well on the way
to erasing the bitter memories of last season … the club has won 4 of
its first 6 starts and is performing well for new coach Lou Crawford …
amongst the large contingent of young prospects on the roster. Alexei
Ponikarovsky and Mikael Hakansson (playing together with Bobby House on
the 1st line) have been the most impressive thus far … Franticek Mrazek,
Jeff Farkas and Adam Mair have yet to begin posting the numbers that are
going to be expected from them (each has 3 points in 6 games) … Michal
Travnicek, though held to 2 points in the early going, has been
finishing every check with extreme prejudice and is quickly becoming a
fan favorite on the Rock … on the backline, minor league vets Nathan
Dempsey, D. J. Smith, Tyler Harlton and David Cooper are all
contributing on the attack and performing solidly defensively as well …
in the absence of #1 goalie, Jimmy Waite, the combination of Mike Minard
and Jamie Hodson has so far been more than equal to the challenge …

Leafs Trivia I: Only 3 Toronto Maple Leafs have ever scored 50 or more
goals during a single NHL season … name all three players (answer below
Whatever happened to) …

Tellqvist Scare: Swedish super prospect Mikael Tellqvist missed 2
starts with Djurgarden last week with Stockholm media reports indicating
that he had suffered a significant leg injury during one of the club’s
training sessions … fortunately, Tellqvist quickly returned to action
and led his team to back-to-back wins over Brynas and Timra – stopping
50 of 53 shots during the 2 victories … the wins propelled Djurgarden
back into first place atop the Swedish Elite League … Mikael’s GAA now
stands at a miniscule 2.06 after 10 games, just a fraction behind Tim
Thomas’ current SEL leading 2.04 …

Wendel’s Back: Wendel Clark has agreed to become the Maple Leafs’
official ambassador in both the business sector and in the community at
large … although this appointment has been in the works for a long time,
it is nonetheless a very welcome piece of news … it would be difficult
to think of a former Toronto player who commands as much respect and
true affection from the team’s huge fan base … welcome aboard Wendel …

Leafs Trivia II: Complete this deal … Lou Franceschetti and Brian
Curran to Buffalo on December 17, 1990 in exchange for (answer below
Trivia I answer) …

Prospect news: Erie’s Brad Boyes continues his blistering early season
pace with 20 points (8 goals – 12 assists) in only 11 games played …
Boyes has now crept up to 5th place in the OHL scoring race … Jon Zion
leads the Ottawa 67’s in scoring with 14 points (5 goals – 9 assists) in
13 games … Zion is currently tied with Mark Popovic of Toronto St.
Michael’s as the leading scorer among all OHL defensemen … Jon’s Ottawa
teammate, Miguel Delisle, is also producing reasonably well with 9
points in 9 games …

Who am I: I was the only Toronto Maple Leafs player to garner more than
one official NHL award during the team’s rather impressive run through
the 1960’s (answer below Trivia II answer) …

Galbraith Cut Loose: In a rather unfortunate turn of events, Lance
Galbraith has been released by the Maple Leafs’ organization … Galbraith
had been the talk of the Kitchener Rookie Camp, scoring several key
goals and playing a strong physical game after being invited to
participate on a “make good” basis … following a stint at the Leafs’
Main Training Camp and another with St. John’s, Toronto’s front office
has apparently decided that Lance has no significant NHL potential …
Galbraith has recently returned to the Ottawa 67’s of the OHL as an
overage player and has performed unevenly in a handful of games …
Galbraith will also confront potentially serious legal problems later
this fall …

Blake TO-bound: Small whispers from the left coast suggest that Kings’
captain and wheelhorse, Rob Blake, wants to leave the decidedly
non-hockey atmosphere in LA in order to ply his trade closer to home …
in Rob’s case, home is Simcoe, Ontario – just north of Toronto …
although Blake has been one of the best defenders in the NHL for over a
decade (and has 1 Norris Trophy to his credit), he has never really
gotten the attention that he deserves as Kings’ games rarely appear on
national television in either Canada or the US … indications are that
Blake now longs to play in a hockey hotbed and for a legitimate Stanley
Cup contender … Rob has already told team management that he will not
re-sign with Los Angeles and so will become an unrestricted free agent
following the 2000/2001 season … although a quick trade remains a
possibility, Blake will ultimately be in a position to choose his own
team in July … before you dismiss this information as just another dream
penned by a devoted Leafs fan, be aware that similar stories concerning
Gary Roberts and Shayne Corson circulated around the league constantly
throughout last season and were eventually proven to be accurate … this
one could yet become very interesting …

Prospect thumbnail – Brad Boyes (C): Toronto’s 1st choice at the June
2000 Entry Draft, Boyes improved markedly during the course of the
Rookie Tournament in September … though still slight and far from the
fastest player on the roster, Brad controlled the play whenever he was
on the ice … he also showed that he wasn’t bothered at all by the rough
play that prevailed during much of the tournament … Brad was quite
impressive during a short stint at the Main Camp, clearly displaying all
of the on-ice intelligence that he was said to possess … Boyes is the
main man at Erie of the OHL this season and is off to a very strong
start (see above) … and must simply continue to get bigger and stronger
(just as Jeff Farkas has previously done) in order to secure an NHL
future for himself …

Whatever happened to: Marek Melenovsky …

Trivia I answer: Rick Vaive (54 goals in 1981/82, 51 goals in 1982/83
and 52 goals in 1983/84) … Gary Leeman (51 goals in 1989/90) … Dave
Andreychuk (53 goals in 1993/94) … Andreychuk also recorded a total of
54 goals during the 1992/93 season, but 29 of those markers were scored
for the Buffalo Sabres prior to a mid-season trade …

Trivia II answer: Mike Foligno brought his trademark “salad bowl”
helmet and post-scoring leap over from Buffalo in this popular trade …
Foligno, 10 times a 20 goal scorer for the Red Wings and Sabres, had
become a useful role player by the time he joined the Maple Leafs …
though he managed only 29 goals in 129 games with Toronto, Mike provided
large amounts of inspiration and enthusiasm to the team and was an
integral part of the 1993 playoff run …

Who am I answer: Legendary Leafs’ captain, Dave Keon, employed an
effective combination of tireless skating, fierce competitiveness and
sound fundamentals in all areas to win the Calder Trophy (Best Rookie)
in 1961, the Lady Byng Trophy (Sportsmanship) in 1962 and again in 1963
and finally the Conn Smythe Trophy (Playoff MVP) in 1967 …

Thanks again to Jan Buben for the insight that he regularly provides on
Maple Leafs’ prospects playing in Europe.

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