Danny Markov spent a number of mornings last summer playing shinny with various other NHLers at Lakeshore Lions Arena, the practice rink of the Maple Leafs.
At the end of each workout, he would trudge into the Leafs dressing room and shed his sweaty gear.
After that, who knows? A little spying, perhaps? Maybe a bit of rummaging through the team's secret files?
Markov hardly needs to go to such nefarious lengths to get the lowdown on the Leafs. Not after he spent the first four-plus seasons of his NHL career in the Toronto system
"I have nothing bad to say about the Leafs organization," Markov said. "They gave me the opportunity to play in this league and I appreciate that."
Markov, acquired earlier in the season from the Carolina Hurricanes, has become a key member of the Philadelphia Flyers defence. He and fellow Russian Vladimir Malakhov have established themselves as the Flyers' top pairing and were towers of strength in Philly's first-round elimination of the defending Stanley Cup champion New Jersey Devils.
In an interesting twist, Markov almost ended up in Philly three years ago while still a member of the Leafs.
Markov's name reportedly came up during the Eric Lindros trade talks between the teams in 2001. Markov was said to be offered to the Flyers as part of a package for Lindros, but Philly general manager Bob Clarke apparently wanted Tomas Kaberle instead.
In June 2001, Markov was dealt to the Phoenix Coyotes for Robert Reichel, Travis Green and Craig Mills.
"I still remember how physical the Toronto-Philadelphia series were when I was with the Leafs," Markov said. "I don't expect this one to be any different."
TIES TO TORONTO
Markov still has ties to Toronto.
He periodically talks on the phone to a number of Leafs, including Nik Antropov. His summer training regimen often takes place under the watchful eye of former Toronto forward Nik Borschevsky.
But any such friendships are shoved on the back burner come playoff time.
"Friends are friends but business is business, and I'm very much enjoying myself here," he said.
"This is a good opportunity to win the Stanley Cup."
Markov making mark in Philly
MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun
, Last Updated: 12:10 PM ET