Oldies but goodies

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 12:27 PM ET

 It's no wonder the Maple Leafs have a reputation for being ornery on the ice. Old guys tend to get ornery.

 Having played five gruelling playoff games in nine days, following an 82-game regular season, there are growing concerns that the much older Leafs may start to wear out heading into the backstretch of the best-of-seven series against the Ottawa Senators.

  Fatigue and age are elements Toronto coach Pat Quinn has certainly thought about, but he isn't overly worried. Nor does he believe dressing an older team in the playoffs is necessarily a disadvantage.

 "I wouldn't put (it) in the concern category at this time," Quinn said yesterday, following an optional practice at the Air Canada Centre. "(Fatigue) is certainly a possibility. But it's possible for everybody. This (the Stanley Cup playoffs) is maybe the hardest championship to win as far as having to show up as many nights as you have to show up and play hard and play every second night pretty much ... and there's banging and bruising going on. Players really have to (have) a big tank for their energy."

 31.4 YEARS OLD

 The average Maple Leaf player is 31.4 years old. The average age of the Senators is 27.9. But that tells just part of the story. Many of the key Leafs are guys in the their mid to late 30's. Brian Leetch, who is logging major minutes on defence, is 36. Ed Belfour is 38. Gary Roberts is 37. Joe Nieuwendyk is 37. Alexander Mogilny is 35. And the granddaddy of them all, Ron Francis, is 41.

 Consequently, the key Senators are much younger. Daniel Alfredsson is 31, Zdeno Chara is 27, Radek Bonk is 28 and Marian Hossa is 25.

 But the Leafs players are not buying into the age is a disadvantage theory.

 "Age is a number, it's not a mindset," said winger Darcy Tucker, 29. "We played 82 games, it doesn't matter what your age is now. You're a hockey player, you go out there and do your job. I don't think fatigue enters your mind at this time of year."

 "Fatigue? What's that?" Bryan McCabe, 28, added. "I don't think anyone's fatigued. I think this is what you play for all year. I think having a veteran team is a great thing. Guys who have been around know what it takes."

 Quinn believes his team is in good shape, even though his squad is certainly old by NHL standards.

 "Fortunately, we play four lines quite a bit, so that should help our team," he said. "We've all seen certain teams where you rely on one or two players and they log so much time.


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