Vets left feeling blue

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 2:34 PM ET


 Brian Leetch was so enthralled with an overtime rush by Mats Sundin he forgot to do his job.

 That miscue helped lead to the end of the 2003-04 Maple Leafs season.

 "Sometimes you get caught up in (the excitement of overtime)," Leetch said.

 "When I came off the bench I was watching the rush instead of keeping an eye on who was behind me.

 "The puck got by me and then they had almost a complete 3-on-1.

 "(The end of the season) is a pretty sickening feeling."

 Leetch, acquired at the NHL's trade deadline in March, quickly became a fan favourite and proved to be better defensively than many expected.

 He was asked if he was happy with the Toronto experience, but his mind was on the loss.

 "It's an empty feeling," Leetch said. "This organization has been a lot of fun. I'm disappointed with what just transpired on the ice."

 So too was another influential newcomer, centre Joe Nieuwendyk. The Whitby native, who owns three Stanley Cup rings, signed a one-year deal last September and his future is unclear.

 "That's not something to analyze right now," the 37-year-old said when the possibility of retirement was broached.

 Nieuwendyk would have loved to win a Cup in his hometown but felt sorry for Mats Sundin and Tie Domi, the team's longest-serving Leafs.

 "I wanted to win one (this season) in this uniform," Nieuwendyk said. "Guys like Tie and Mats have been here a long time and I feel like those guys really deserve one.

 "Mats is a true warrior and true leader. I didn't know much about him when I came here this year, but he is a true captain."


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