Leafs' Carlton bears all

GARY LOEWEN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:36 PM ET

Now introducing your new Maple Leafs mascot, Carlton the Banker ... or Carlton the Doormat ... or Bear in the Big Blue and White House!

Nah, forget that speculation, Carlton the Bear is not finished in this town.

So, no, this isn’t the move that Brian Burke warned us was coming: The demotion of a high-profile Leaf (Carlton) to the Marlies with Duke the Dog being called up to the big team.

However, Carlton is undergoing a change. The person zipped inside the white fur ball will be going into hibernation after the Leafs game Dec. 12 against the Washington Capitals.

A new Carlton — promoted from the Chicago Cubs, maybe? — will take over, in, hopefully, a seamless transition.

In an interview Friday, the original Carlton beared, er bared, his soul.

The mascot always has strived to maintain his anonymity, and we’ll protect that here.

“It has been 15 years — a long time — and 2,500 appearances,” Carlton said over the phone. “But it has been the best 15 years you could imagine.”

The mascot was unveiled on July 29, 1995, named after the street on which Maple Leaf Gardens sits.

In addition to working at home games, Carlton makes about 150 public appearances a year on behalf of the Leafs.

“It seems like it’s a good time to pass the torch,” he said, noting that a successor has been appointed.

“It’s absolutely 100% not true that Carlton is done. We won’t skip a beat.”

Carlton hadn’t anticipated news of the changeover getting out.

“I didn’t want this to be a story at all,” he said. “I had told my friends I wasn’t going to be doing it anymore.”

Carlton’s favourite memory?

“Beating the Ottawa Senators four times in the playoffs.”

As for that happening again for the Leafs, well, we’ll have to bear with them.

Goal slump

It’s still early in the season, but there are signs that defence reigns again in the NHL.

In a total of 16 games Wednesday and Thursday, 20 teams scored two goals or fewer.

A total of 71 goals were scored, an average of 4.4 a game.

Overall, the league average is 5.56 goals a game, down slightly from 5.70 in 2008-09.

Or maybe it’s just the Boston Bruins’ fault.

The Bruins, who lost 2-1 to the New Jersey Devils Friday, have seen their goals-per-game average drop to 2.24 from 3.29 last season.

I know, I know, it’s because they don’t have Phil Kessel anymore.

Say what?

“I don’t know who started it, but I remember I called him ugly and he got pretty upset, so he called me fat.” — Montreal Canadiens defenceman Josh Gorges, about a squabble with teammate Mike Cammalleri at practice Friday.


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