Leafs coach: Sens won Heatley deal

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:04 AM ET

TORONTO — Count Ron Wilson among the fans of the deal that sent Dany Heatley to the San Jose Sharks.

The Toronto Maple Leafs bench boss, who in San Jose coached the players the Senators got in return, Milan Michalek and Jonathan Cheechoo, said if both play up to their potential, Ottawa will be better off without Heatley, a two-time 50-goal scorer.

“I think that’s a great trade for Ottawa,” Wilson said before Round 1 of the 2009-10 Battle of Ontario at the Air Canada Centre. “You take 50 goals out, but basically you have the potential of getting 60-to-65 goals. Cheechoo is going to find his game at some point and I don’t see why Milan Michalek can’t score 40 goals in this league.”

Wilson likes the way Michalek competes.

“He’s already a very good hockey player. He scores 25 goals every year, I think. He’s big, strong and as good a skater as I’ve ever seen,” said Wilson. “He’s very aware, and like a lot of young guys, I still think he searches for consistency. That may be confidence.”

For the record, Michalek has scored 26, 24 and 23 goals in the past three seasons.

But Wilson stopped short of saying Cheechoo will return to the form that saw him score a league-high 56 goals in 2005-06 with the Sharks, but does believe he can once again become a consistent performer.

“(Cheechoo) was in the right place at the right time, (he) was hungry and (he had) the good fortune of playing with Joe Thornton,” Wilson said of the season Cheechoo captured the Rocket Richard trophy.

“Joe is an unbelievable passer and they had great chemistry for a while.

“Unfortunately, (Cheechoo) has had to battle a bunch of injuries over the last couple of years. He’s still going to be a very effective player once he gets his confidence.”

Kovalev’s game online

Senators RW Alexei Kovalev has officially joined the blogosphere on RDS.ca. Kovalev shares his thoughts with reporter Renaud Lavoie, then they’re translated into French and put on the network’s website. “It’s something I’m going to do every two or three weeks,” said Kovalev. “If I don’t like it, I won’t do it anymore.” In his first post, Kovalev praised Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson and discussed the loss of Canadiens D Andrei Markov, who could be out four months after slicing a tendon in his ankle.

Monster controversy

Heading into their third game, the Leafs were already embroiled in a goaltending controversy. Wilson was feeling the heat for starting Jonas “The Monster” Gustavsson ahead of Vesa Toskala.

“I didn’t think (Toskala) was going to play 82 games this year,” said Wilson. “I feel bad for Vesa that he’s being put in this position when he hasn’t done anything wrong. He might start the next game. I can’t tell you.”

In and out

RW Shean Donovan was happy to return to the lineup in place of the injured Ryan Shannon. “You’re never happy (with not playing). All I can do is just work hard in practice,” said Donovan, who scored the first goal. “It sounds pretty simple and boring, but it’s all you can do. I know I can play. It’s never an easy road, but you’ve just got to work hard, but you’re lucky enough to play hockey for a living.” ... D Filip Kuba, scratched with a lower body injury, was replaced by Alex Picard.

Old Hab-its...

Leafs D Mike Komisarek, signed as a free agent in the off-season, spends time with Alexei Kovalev during the summer. “He’s a heck of player on the ice and a good friend off the ice,” said Komisarek, who played with Kovalev in Montreal. “I spend the summers in Long Island and he’s in (nearby) Greenwich, Conn. We get together a lot. Good hockey player, great golfer. He’s a tough guy to play against.”

Killer tribute

The Leafs honoured Senators killer Gary Roberts before the game. Five goals in the highlight package on the scoreboard were scored on former Senators G Patrick Lalime. No wonder the Senators wanted Roberts so badly when he played.

Up Next

The Senators host John Tavares and the Islanders in the home opener Thursday (7 p.m.).


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