Baby Buds News and Notes

By Kevin Kelly

John Fogarty once sang about a “Big Train from
Memphis” but unfortunately for the St. John’s Maple
Leafs 1999-2000 MVP, goalie Mike Minard, he’s taking a
big train to Memphis instead of St. John’s this
season.

Minard was relegated to the Memphis River
Kings of the Central Hockey League as the Toronto
Maple Leafs made their first set of cuts. Joining him
will be fellow netminder Jean-Francois Racine, forward
Jonathan Gagnon and rookie Vaclav Zavoral.
Minard, who struggled at times during last season in
St. John’s (14-11-7, 3.10 GAA) was outplayed by
Sebastien Centomo, but he will be missed in St. John’s
however.

Minard’s “Mini’s Munchkins” program
benefitting kids in hospitals in St. John’s had
nominated him twice for the Yanick Dupre Award as AHL
Man of the Year, winning the award in 2000. Also well
known was Minard’s love for the fans. He always was
there for them, giving a game puck to a lucky starry
eyed kid after every pre-game practice and his
demeanour was always professional. Let’s hope Minard
sees a St. John’s Maple Leafs uniform again soon.

Speaking of the Leafs goaltending, it will be
Sebastien Centomo and Jamie Hodson between the pipes
for now. Hodson, who played with South Carolina of the
ECHL last season (20-9-3, 3.01 GAA), had a strong
training camp and may be ready for primetime with St.
John’s. Mikael Tellqvist is still in Toronto, but it’s
expected he’ll be sent back soon as well.

As for the rest of the players officially assigned to
the Baby Leafs, the one who may make the most
impression is Brad Boyes, Hockey’s Future #1 prospect
for Toronto. He has scored in each of the Leafs three
exhibition games (all losses). Other Leafs include
Nathan Barrett, Jay Harrison, Regan Kelly, Ryan Bonni,
Chris Chartier, Doug Doull, Allan Rourke, Brad Leeb,
Petr Svoboda, Craig Mills, Robb Palahnuk and Dmitri
Yakushin, who is back for a second tour of duty with
St. John’s.

Other players still in Toronto that may end up in St.
John’s include Paul Healey, Alex Ponikarovsky, Josh
Holden, Richard Jackman and Anders Eriksson. As for
Nik Antropov, the forward would have to clear waivers,
and it’s unlikely he’d not be unclaimed by another
club.

The Baby Leafs first practice is set for Tuesday.


Leafs notes:

Congratulations to Alexei Ponikarovsky, who’s wife
gave birth to a baby girl.

Former Leaf Jeff Farkas, now with Manitoba, did not
play against his old mates over the weekend. Moose
coach Stan Smyl rested Farkas because he didn’t want
to rush Farkas into the lineup.

Nathan Dempsey is looking strong to make Chicago’s
Defense corps. The former Leafs defenceman has had an
excellent camp and all St. John’s fans wish him lots
of luck and hope he does make the NHL.