Sullivan still proving he's got game

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:00 AM ET

As the 2000-01 Maple Leafs grew bigger under new general manager Pat Quinn, 5-foot-9 Steve Sullivan looked more like the club mascot in the annual team picture.

He was put on waivers in the autumn of 1999 to make room for Dmitri Khristich in one of the most ill-advised moves Quinn made during his stint as GM.

Sullivan, who had 20 goals for Toronto the season before, was scooped by the Chicago Blackhawks and later the Nashville Predators, potting at least 20 every season.

But the new no-touch National Hockey League could see the 31-year-old Timmins native thrive like never before. Coming off seven points in three consecutive road wins for the undefeated Preds (5-0), Sullivan was named the league's offensive player of the week yesterday.

"Back when the Leafs let me go, they were trying to get bigger, which was to my detriment," Sullivan said yesterday on a conference call.

"It (being placed on waivers) was not fun. It was a tough time in my career, not knowing where you would be, in the NHL or in St. John's, Newfoundland. But going somewhere else, you had the chance to grow as a player."

Nashville has been particularly kind to Sullivan. He had 30 points in 24 games after being traded in the stretch run of 2003-04 for two second-round draft choices, helping Nashville gain its first playoff spot.

Now, the club is neck-and-neck with Detroit for first place in the Central Division, the surprise team in the Western Conference.

"It depends on whom you talk to," Sullivan said of reaction to the team's fast start.

"Some reporters said we wouldn't make the playoffs, others had us in the top five of the conference."


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