So with Mats Sundin cleared to practice and perhaps ready for game action as soon as Thursday -- seems a little ambitious, but let's just say it's a question now of how soon rather than merely when -- what do you do with your Maple Leafs now, Pat Quinn?
Coupled with last night's 2-1 win over Florida, the Sundin news comes at a good time for the Leafs. That Saturday night massacre was still in the air along with a flu bug in the dressing room and then Gary Roberts' first-minute goal arrived gift-wrapped from McCabe -- I wondered yesterday if the Leafs would hold the door open for their old teammate, but it looked like they were giving him the keys to the MLSE vault at that point. As it was, Roberts and Jason Allison finished the night by exchanging not cards but leathery lefts.
The good for the Leafs: Belfour, of course. Some zip, although none of the new line combos converted chances into goals until Ponikarovsky, who had his strongest game, got a flukey winner. Wellwood supplied enough good to offset his tendency to overload the mustard, viz. that between the legs dipsy-do in close on a puck that perhaps fooled him coming out off the boards as much as it did Jamie McLennan, not that it meant any different to Quinn:
"He'll end up in the stands if he fools around like that. There's a time and a place for tomfoolery."
The bad: Giveaways (17 of 'em to Florida's nine, and McCabe handed Roberts that first goal), outshot 32-24, an inability to move the puck out of their own end the final seven minutes or so, when it was all Belfour holding the fort.
One more thing about last night, and what's to come: Allison skated between two kids who have shown dependable chemistry so far, Matt Stajan and Alex Steen, but those two may well be joined by Sundin, reports Mark Zwolinski:
While the club has not publicly addressed who it wants to flank their returning captain, there have been intriguing whispers that it will be members of the "kid line" — Matt Stajan and Alex Steen.
This leads to wondering about the ripple effect from there. Wellwood might well end up back with the Marlies -- but it says here he should stay, his creativity and offensive flair something this club would surely miss.
But where do you put him? What about Antropov, when he's ready to go? Czerkawski? Belak? Okay, I'll stop there. I think I know where you're going with those last two. (C.Y.)