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.

Korolev Rumours Rampant: Many media sources have reported, this week, that Leafs’ C/W Igor Korolev may soon be on his way to the Island (or perhaps to Chicago) … the thinking seems to be that the team needs to make room for Big Nik Antropov when he returns to the line-up at the end of November … there are at least a couple of significant problems with this theory though … first, the Maple Leafs are currently 1 man under the NHL roster limit and will not be forced to move anyone out in order to activate Antropov … second, Korolev can be re-deployed on either wing – meaning that both he and Antropov can be used in the same line-up quite effectively … lastly, Igor is a personal favorite of Pat Quinn’s and his versatility, sound positional play and quite leadership remain valued elements on the Toronto squad … at this time, a deal for something as inconsequential as mid round draft choices seems highly unlikely … besides, the Maple Leafs will need all the depth that they can muster if they hope to acquire another significant player prior to the playoffs …

MLG Plans Shelved: The sale of Maple Leaf Gardens has been put on hold after a snag in plans to develop the 69-year-old hockey shrine … the major issue between the intended developer (PenEquity Management Corp.) and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment was over the retention of a 5,000-seat rink that the Leafs intended to use as their main practice facility … apparently, PenEquity determined that such a plan would be financially unworkable … for the time being, the Gardens is off the market while Maple Leaf Sports revisits other proposals originally submitted to see if one can be made to work … for their part, PenEquity hasn’t given up entirely on the project … this turn of events will not affect the auction of Gardens’ memorabilia that will take place at the arena on Nov. 19th …

Leafs Trivia I: Name the three Toronto Maple Leafs’ players who were the first to score 20, 30 and 40 goals in a single NHL season (answer below Whatever happened to) …

Lindros Says No Thanks: With the Eric Lindros camp giving the Flyers’ latest (half-hearted) peace initiative the brush last week, speculation continues to make Toronto the oft-injured superstar’s next playing address … Lindros, who clearly wants to join the Leafs, is presently working his way back into playing shape … apparently, a final medical clearance from noted sports neurologist, James Kelly, will be forthcoming soon … although these are all positive signs, the player’s history of concussions, the need to arrange some sort of trade with the Flyers and a workable salary structure remain major obstacles even if the Leafs are intent to get something done in this regard …

Team Toughness: Reflections on the ugly third period played between the Maple Leafs and the Bruins on November 5th … a cheap shot from Boston’s Joe Hulbig on Garry Valk in the third period may have helped to transform a normally placid Toronto line-up into a real team … Hulbig floored Valk with an elbow that left the Toronto winger momentarily dazed … the flagrant infraction was missed by both referees but not by Dave Manson, who jumped the Bruin giant without hesitation … Tie Domi later tried to submarine Hulbig as he emerged from the penalty box… this sparked a subsequent confrontation when Gary Roberts was assaulted by Boston enforcer Ken Belanger … again Manson was there to provide instant help (as was Danny Markov) … in fact, all 5 skaters on both teams were quickly engaged in various levels of physical confrontation … while the moral correctness of such violence in today’s NHL can be debated forever, there is no doubting the raw emotion that these events evoked from the Toronto bench, which finally began to display the sort of energy that was lacking in too many games during this young season …

Leafs Trivia II: Complete this deal … Pat Hannigan and Johnny Wilson to the Rangers in November 1960 in exchange for (answer below Trivia I answer) …

New Practice Home Completed: The Leafs officially opened their new practice facility at Lakeshore Lions Arena in Etobicoke on November 7th … the 7,000 square-foot renovation includes a slightly smaller version of the club’s posh dressing room at the Air Canada Centre, as well as a weight room, player lounge and equipment storage area … given recent developments surrounding the planned refitting of MLG (see related story above), the team may have to extend its stay at the LLA indefinitely…

Prospect news: Vet’s Bobby House and Nathan Dempsey continue to spearhead the attack for a resurgent St. John’s side (if these two guys keeps producing at this rate, they may just earn another look down in Toronto soon) … Erie’s Brad Boyes currently sits third in the OHL scoring race based upon 34 points (19 goals and 15 assists) in 20 games played … Ottawa’s Jon Zion remains the OHL’s leading scorer amongst defensemen with 26 points (9 goals and 17 assists) in 20 games … there are also some other rather interesting developments up in the Nation’s capital … Miguel Delisle is now cruising along at better than a point per game (10-6-16 in only 14 matches) … following a slow start, Khazakh rookie Vadim Sozinov is now up to 13 points (8 goals and 5 assists) in 19 contests …

Who am I: I was Toronto’s first amateur draft selection back in 1963 … oddly, I would not get a chance to don the blue and white until I had already made NHL stops in Minnesota, California, Boston, Detroit, Washington and Cleveland … (answer below Trivia II answer) …

More News from Sweden: After recording his first shutout of the season against Lulea, Mikael Tellqvist turned in another excellent performance, this time stopping all 27 shots against HV 71 … in his next start, a 3-1 victory for Djurgarden, Tellqvist’s fantastic steak of 169 minutes without allowing a goal finally came to an end … Tellqvist dominates SEL goaltending statistics, and, with the recent injury to Tim Thomas, he has no serious rival … his impressive 1.88 GAA and .923 save percentage represent very interesting developments for all Maple Leafs fans … Tellqvist plays a rather unorthodox style reminiscent of other top European netminders … he relies heavily on quick reflexes (which border on the unbelievable at times) yet remains standing as much as he possibly can … if and when Mikael decides to try his luck on this side of the pond, there will certainly be inevitable adjustments needed … even so, Tellqvist appears to be a rare talent and his rapid ascent into world hockey prominence is a very welcome development for a Toronto organization considered to be goaltending poor only a short time ago …

Prospect thumbnail – Luca Cereda (C): Toronto’s 1st Rounder from the 1999 Entry Draft, Luca experienced some well documented difficulties with his club team in Switzerland last year and entered this year’s Rookie Camp with many questions surrounding his future prospects … after a slow start in Game 1, Cereda came on strong in the tournament and helped to spearhead Toronto’s attack the rest of the way … Luca was also very impressive during his stay at the Leafs’ Main Camp as well … all signs seemed to point to a very promising 2000/2001 season ahead with Ottawa of the OHL – or perhaps even with St. John’s of the AHL … then the devastating news … the Maple Leafs announced that ECG tests on the 19-year-old center taken during routine Training Camp medicals had detected a slight heart murmur … Cereda’s season was officially over … further tests revealed that one of the three valves in Cereda’s heart was not functioning properly, a condition that he had lived with since birth … Luca has recently undergone successful heart surgery in his homeland and, following a lengthy convalescence period, should be ready to re-join the Maple Leafs next fall …

Whatever happened to: Ryan Pepperall …

Trivia I answer: 20 goals – Bill Carson (1927/28) … 30 goals – Charlie Conacher (1930/31) … 40 goals – Frank Mahovlich (1960/61) …

Trivia II answer: The Maple Leafs certainly became much more colorful when Eddie “The Entertainer” Shack joined the team in this trade engineered by GM/Coach, Punch Imlach … Shack was an accomplished skater and provided Toronto with lots of dash and tough play during the early to mid 60’s … many observers were astonished when he collected 26 goals during the 1965/66 season and became the subject of a popular Toronto AM radio ditty … later in his career, Eddie would surpass 20 goals again in Boston, Los Angeles, Buffalo and Pittsburgh … re-acquired by the Leafs prior to the 1973/74 season, Shack enjoyed one final taste of notoriety back at the scene of his greatest triumphs before hanging his blades up for good in 1974/75 …

Who am I answer: A well traveled Walt McKechnie finally joined the Maple Leafs some 15 years after originally being drafted by the team … acquired in an effort to establish a second scoring line presence behind Darryl Sittler (a seemingly endless quest in those days), Walt contributed 25 goals during the 1978/79 season … despite this solid effort, McKechnie was on his way again the following year – this time to the Colorado Rockies …

Special thanks to European correspondent, Jan Buben, for putting HF readers right inside Mikael Tellqvist’s outstanding season in Sweden – watch for a Karjala Cup update next week.

You’ll get all of the important news pertaining to the Toronto Maple Leafs’ organization here at Hockey’s Future.