After a quiet weekend watching golf that's turned into a long weekend of watching golf, although Calgary got even better (hello Roman Hamrlik), Leaf Nation returns to the water coolers today with their "big three" up the middle, and some questions with the the wingmen.
Mats Sundin, Jason Allison and Eric Lindros (getting used to saying that? - just rolls off the tongue) will all play centre, says coach Pat Quinn.
"I believe having good strength up the middle is an old maxim but it's a true one. To build championship teams you have to have strength there. I like the thought of those three guys in the middle," says Quinn.
Sounds good. But who's gonna dig the puck out of the corners? Toronto has about $2.5 million left under the salary cap and GM John Ferguson Jr. says he wants to keep some wiggle room for during the season. So while there's plenty of talent still available (Alex Mogilny, Teemu Selanne, John LeClair, Peter Bondra) on the free agent market, there's just not much room in Toronto for more players.
We want to know your ideas for line combinations. Would you play Belak and Domi with Lindros in a bang-and-crash line? Where does Jeff O'Neill's scoring best fit?
Leaf fans have reason to be optimistic, Sundin says he's in great shape and is hungry to get things started.
In Boston, president Harry Sinden likes his team a lot and thinks the Bruins will be among the class of the Eastern Conference. Others? Philly, Ottawa and Toronto, but the Leafs have a big 'if', according to Sinden:
"Toronto can become an interesting team because of (Jason) Allison and (Eric) Lindros. With (Mats) Sundin, that gives them three possible star centres. Of course, there's a distinct possibility that they'll only have one."
Yes. Distinct. (holding breath)
Around the league:
Phoenix is looking for a veteran to help coach Wayne Gretzky betweent the pipes, with ex-Leaf Curtis Joseph on the radar (reg. req'd).
Nashville forwards Paul Kariya and Greg Johnson share, along with most Canadians, some bad memories when it comes to the dreaded shootout. Let's just say they're not big fans.