Remember that talk of a new Kid Line for the Leafs? The time looks to be about right, Mark Zwolinski reports:
"Well, we've been working out together, so I think there's a good chance that we'll play together (against Carolina)," Steen said at the Leaf practice yesterday.
But this is not just about tonight. More like every night in the life of the postmodern NHL.
Kids are cheap. Kids are quick. Kids don't get tired. Kids fly around bumping into things, and never think to slow down, or phone their agents to complain.
When was the last time a kid got up out of bed and said, "I think I'm going to take today off from being a kid"?
While their veteran counterparts around the league were taking the year off or playing over in Europe on half-rations, the kids were getting a full season of the minors under their belts: Less rust, more filling.
Look around, and there are kids everywhere. According to Tim Wharnsby over at the Globe, there are 99 kids skating in the NHL -- "if that number seems high, it's because it is", Wharnsby writes, and I guess we'll just have to take his word on that. Or just look out on the ice tonight at the Air Canada Centre. In goal for those Carolina Hurricanes: 21-year-old Cam Ward. Leading scorer: 20-year-old Eric Staal.
So if we do see Steen (21), Stajan (21) and Wellwood (22) skating together as a unit for the Leafs tonight, thank Nik Antropov for affording them the opportunity, and basically forcing Pat Quinn's hand. Just don't call it big news. This would be, after all, the seventh Kid Line the Leafs have had (the first since 1979's joining of the immortal Saganiuk-Anderson-Boschman). And it's happening all over the place.
Other stuff from Leafs this morning:
Mats Sundin journeyed to New York for another opinion on his injured eye, and he should know by next week whether or not surgery is required, says Leafs GM John Ferguson Jr.
Gary Bettman, in town for a conference, took time out for a press conference on the state of the league. (And if you read here yesterday, you know the storyline. Meantime, I'm trying to get a count on how many times he said "great" for the poolies.)
Darcy Tucker says a little hazing never hurt anyone. Tell that to Taiwo Aliu (reg. required).
With half the NHL seemingly on Hockey Canada's Olympic radar screen, Jeff O'Neill somehow finds it surprising he's one of them. Jeff, this is the "walks and chews gum at the same time" list. The next one, you have to rub your head and pat your stomach.
I'm looking forward to watching Carolina's kids tonight. Cam Ward: 5 games, 3 wins, 2.05 GAA, .932 SV%. And we've been seeing the Eric Staal highlights this season. The number-two overall draft pick has 5 goals in 5 games.
News out of Raleigh this morning is that Ray Whitney will play his first game of the season tonight, so there's another speedy forward to give the Killer B's some fits.
Around the league:
The Avs have made an interesting move. The club has declined the team options on the contracts of Joe Sakic and Rob Blake, giving them some salary cap room this season. Both would have earned around $7-million next year but instead will be unrestricted free agents. Tough to think that will be a major problem for the team, especially with Sakic, who says he wants to finish his career there. The move gives Colorado about $700,000 in cap room to play with this year.
ChKris Draper will wear a visor. Why? Click the link to the story and the photo will give you all the reason you need why players should wear visors. Here's another good one from Draper:
"It's kind of different now. You wake up in the morning and the kids see you, and obviously it scares them, and it puts everything into perspective."