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Leafs vs. Thrashers: Notebook

Monday, 29.03.2004 / 11:49 PM / News
Toronto Maple Leafs
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Leafs vs. Thrashers: Notebook

Vs. ATL: Scoring | Stats

by Mike Ball

 

Rollin' On Without Nolan

Well the good news is Owen Nolan didn't undergo season-ending knee surgery Monday, but it certainly wasn't all good.

 

Pat Quinn addressed the media following Monday's morning skate and told of the prognosis thus far.

 

"We've been informed that Nolan does have damage to his knee," said Quinn. "He does not require surgery, at least not yet anyway. We'll have further evaluation in three weeks and we'll determine at that time where we'll be with the injury. But it's a severe injury.

 

"Certainly he won't be on skates until after those three weeks."

 

So that leaves the Maple Leafs without the bruising winger for at least the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs and likely longer, depending on the length of rounds.

 

To most teams this would be a disastrous turn of events, but to the Leafs, although it's significant, it's a far cry from disastrous and really nothing new.

On the brighter side, the team is certainly hoping to have the likes of Darcy Tucker and Ken Klee returning to fill some of the void left by Nolan's absence by the time the playoffs begin next Wednesday.

"We're used to having guys out, but they're two real big keys to our team," said Gary Roberts. "We need to have those guys in the lineup so hopefully both of them are going to be healthy. Throughout the year those guys have competed hard for us so we'd like to have them healthy for playoffs. Hopefully that's going to be the case."

 

The Leafs pose with the jersey winners following the win.
(Graig Abel Photography)

Did It Just Get Colder In Here

As has become custom at Air Canada Centre following the final home game, the Maple Leafs stayed on the ice a little longer for an entirely different kind of in-arena giveaway.

 

Throughout the game, winning seat numbers were chosen around the arena and those 29 young fans got the chance to draw a puck from a bucket.

 

Each of those pucks were labled with one of the Maple Leafs players' names and the young fan actually got to take home the game-worn jersey right off their Maple Leafs heroes' backs.

 

Not sure who were the bigger winners though, the fans who with the actual game-worn jerseys or the fans who drew a healthy scratch's or injured player's name and took home a much dryer, cleaner and less "fragrant" sweater.

 

It surely depends on the fan.

 

Feeling At Home In Hogtown

For arguably the first time since joining the Maple Leafs, Brian Leetch was easily the best skater on the ice in a blue sweater Monday night.

 

He dazzled in the offensive end, made some solid plays behind his own blueline and seemingly willed the Leafs back into the game after a slow start.

 

"He keeps amazing me," said Mats Sundin. "You play great players in this league and you learn to respect them on other teams, but he's one of those guys who you get in your locker room and that respect grows.

 

"He's a great leader in the room and for us he's been our top player since he came here. He's been really dominant."

 

:Leetch helped open the scoring with Toronto down by two when he darted in alone on Pasi Nurminen, couldn't convert on his own shot and somehow found Tie Domi in front who put home the gimme.

 

"Sometimes you have to play the score and I was looking to take some chances and get in and create some opportunities," said Leetch.

 

"Really I've settled in here much quicker than I anticipated. After that first three, four days I was pretty comfortable in the locker room. I've felt good since that first week."

 

With Leetch on the blueline, Leafs Nation feels pretty good too.

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