Boyes II Men

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:48 AM ET

Given more time to play together, Mississaugans Matt Stajan and Brad Boyes might have developed the Whitby-style chemistry that made Gary Roberts and Joe Nieuwendyk click in Toronto.

However, thanks in part to Owen Nolan, the two multi-purpose forwards are doing the same job with the Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins, respectively.

Boyes was a first-round pick from the Erie Otters in 2000, Stajan a second-rounder in 2002 from the Belleville Bulls. Boyes, Alyn McCauley and a first-round pick all went to San Jose for Nolan prior to the 2003 playoffs with the Leafs out in the first round, then Boyes eventually became a Bruin.

Stajan began with a fourth-line position here that likely would have been Boyes' to lose. But on a Pat Quinn team loaded with veterans, he gradually has proven himself worthy of better things, while Boyes has had a slower climb up the Bruins' chain.

The two Ontario Hockey Leaguers maintain a strong off-ice bond.

"We grew up in Mississauga and he was one of the guys in the OHL that you would keep an eye on," Stajan said yesterday before he and Boyes clashed. "I knew he loved it with the Leafs and now he's trying to make a statement that (the Leafs) should never have got rid of him.

"We see each other at golf tournaments and we have (mutual) friends that we hang out with."

One of them is Carlo Colaiacovo, the Leafs' first pick in 2003 and Boyes' teammate with Erie. But Colaiacovo has been unable to stick with the big club.

Before last night, Boyes had produced 12 points in 22 games, averaging under 11 minutes of ice time to Stajan's 11:40. But the trade of Dave Scatchard to Phoenix for defenceman David Tanabe should heighten his profile.

"It would have been great to play with Matt, but I'm happy to be in Boston," Boyes said.

That's despite a six-game losing streak prior to last night. With injuries and the downturn in team fortunes and the Scatchard trade, Boston coach Mike Sullivan has been using Boyes a great deal, moving him through both wings and centre.

"He's been a big part of our team for a young rookie," Sullivan said. "To go through the experience he has this season will be invaluable for him.

"I think he's more comfortable and I think he knows he belongs. He has more confidence with the puck and every game he gets better."

Quinn gladly would retract the Nolan deal if he could. The latter turned out to have a short shelf life here, with injuries and a messy divorce that could yet cost the Leafs millions.

"We've lost assets (chasing a Stanley Cup) going all the way back to (former general manager) Cliff Fletcher," Quinn said. "Some of the young guys you wish you still had, but you can't turn back the clock. Somewhere along the way, you have to pay the piper."


Videos

Photos