News and Notes from The Rock

By Kevin Kelly

Goaltender Mike Minard, still stinging from his loss
of a job with the St. John’s Maple Leafs, has decided
to report to the Memphis River Kings after all.
Minard, who was the St. John’s Maple Leafs MVP in
2000-01, had been witholding reporting to Memphis
because he thought he hadn’t been given a fair look by
Toronto management at the Leafs training camp. He had
been hoping to be loaned to another team in the AHL by
Toronto but was sent to Memphis instead where Leafs
management decided to have Sebastien Centomo and Jamie
Hodson in St. John’s rather than Minard. (It looks now
that it will be Centomo and Mikael Tellqvist battling
for Leaf net supremacy this season.)

>From this reporter’s perspective, Memphis fans will be
very happy to have Minard patrolling their nets.
Minard appeared in the 2001 AHL All Star Game and off
the ice, he is one of the best I’ve met. Need proof?
He was named AHL Man of the Year (the Yanick Dupre
Award) in 2001 for his contributions to community.
St. John’s loss will defintely be Memphis’s gain, and
all Leaf fans wish the best for Mike. Who knows? Maybe
Minard may be back someday on the Rock.

Speaking of comebacks, Dmitri Yakushin, who played in
his native Ukraine last season after three years in
St. John’s, has finally gotten his work visa
straightened and should be in town soon. However, the
diplomatic wrangling means Yakushin is not medically
cleared to play and won’t play the Leafs first game in
Wilkes-Barre Scranton.

Newfoundland notes:

Congrats to Ryan Clowe of St. John’s, who played his
first NHL exhibition game for the San Jose Sharks
against St. John’s native Harold Druken and the
Vancouver Canucks. Clowe is expected to play with the
Cleveland Barons this season. Other Newfoundlanders in
the AHL include Jeff Sullivan of the Saint John Flames
and John Slaney of the Philadelphia Phantoms.

Leafs Scuttlebutt

The Telegram says that Chris Chartier may be groomed
to take over for Nathan Dempsey on defence. Big shoes
to fill, yes, but I think Chartier is up to the
challenge. He is a former WHL Best defenceman (his
final year in Prince George)and he has the talent to
be the Leafs offensive defenceman. (Yes, he did have
only 15 points in 65 games last season, but watching
him play, one can tell the potential is there)
Don’t count out Allan Rourke either to step up and
make some noise on the Leafs blueline.

With the loss of Bobby House and Don Maclean, the
Leafs may be hard pressed for goals. It means some
pressure for Bob Wren, but with Paul Healey and Alexei
Ponikarovsky around, at least it won’t be totally up
to Wren to provide offensive spark. Junior grads Brad
Boyes and Nathan Barrett are also expected to dent the
twine, but may need some adjustment to the AHL level.
Josh Holden may help as well, but I think this could
be the year for Luca Cereda. He looks in great shape
and may be ready to take over the reins on offence
that Leaf fans have been hoping for. If not, he will
be at the very least, a decent defensive forward.

St. John’s fans may want to pick up a Chicago Black
Hawks jersey if you can find one. Three former fan
favorites of the Blue and White, Nathan Dempsey, Shawn
Thornton and Ryan VandenBussche are all fighting for
roster spots with the Hawks this season.