Downie dealt to Petes

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:00 AM ET

Steve Downie became a member of the Peterborough Petes yesterday and had one final message for a former teammate.

"I have nothing against Akim Aliu," Downie said. "He's a good player and I wish him the best. Definitely, I wish none of it ever happened. It's in the past, but it's unfortunate the situation in Windsor did not get resolved."

One of the chapters of the Ontario Hockey League's uglier stories in recent memory ended yesterday, as Downie was traded to the Petes from the Windsor Spitfires for slick defenceman Peter Aston and three draft picks. Not long after a highly publicized fight during practice with Aliu on Sept. 28, Downie was suspended by the Spits for five games. Downie retreated to his home in Newmarket and asked for a trade. Spits owner Steve Riolo had said he was not going to trade Downie, but changed his mind a few weeks ago.

Because of the fighting and a hazing incident that had occurred earlier, Spits general manager/coach Moe Mantha was suspended by the league a total of 40 games from coaching, a year from his duties as GM and the club was fined a total of $35,000.

Mantha last month hired Toronto lawyer Brian Greenspan to help him appeal his suspension. Aliu has been trying to make the best of an awkward situation with his teammates.

Downie sounded as though he was walking on air last night. A first-round pick by the Philadelphia Flyers in July, the 18-year-old forward joins a club which is 13-2-1-0, on an eight-game winning streak and is ranked No. 1 in the Canadian Hockey League. The 5-foot-10, 192-pound Downie will be in the lineup tonight when the Petes play host to the Ottawa 67's. In his only game this season, Downie had a hat trick for Windsor against the Saginaw Spirit on Sept. 24.

"I'm ecstatic," Downie said. "I couldn't have asked for anything else. I want to help the Petes win an OHL title and the Memorial Cup."

Downie, who had 21 goals, 52 assists and 179 penalty minutes for the Spits last season, will add plenty of sandpaper to the Petes. And if he plays well, he should earn an invitation to Canada's selection camp next month for the world junior tournament.

"We've done our homework, and we see him as a mature kid who needs a fresh start," said Petes GM Jeff Twohey, who gave up a second-rounder and a fifth-rounder next year as well as a second-rounder in 2007. "He brings an element we did not have. This does not guarantee us anything, but it's a good trade for us."

Aston, who has 19 points in 16 games, told the Peterborough Examiner he was devastated by the trade but will report to the Spitfires in time for their game tonight.

The Petes visit the Spitfires on Nov. 25.

"I'm aware of that," Downie said. "It's one of the first things I looked at. I'm looking forward to it."


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