A kid in Leafs land

MIKE ULMER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:06 AM ET

They're holding a "Leafs For A Day" promotion today at the Air Canada Centre.

Maple Leafs coach Pat Quinn and his staff will tutor 26 nine- and 10-years-olds on the finer points of the game.

This morning, a member of the Leafs public-relations staff will address the kids and say something like ...

"Kids, welcome to the Air Canada Centre, home of the ... well, never mind.

"In a few moments, our coach, Pat Quinn, will be reciting his stirring speech: 'If Punch Imlach didn't need a game plan, why the hell do I?'

"Word to the wise, youngsters. The coach hates it when little people goof off during his speech. That's why he traded Steve Sullivan.

"Now, kids, there will be lots of family and friends waiting for you after practice. You'll find a full bank of mirrors near the showers and, although I know many of you don't ordinarily bathe, we encourage all our players to spend at least 30 minutes in front of the mirror if anyone, anyone at all, is waiting. To that end we have stocked the room with rubber duckies and Legos to keep you occupied and out of sight. Remember, if you're going to be a pro, you have to act like a pro.

"Kids, when your parents ask you how you enjoyed being a Leaf for a day, we're going to want you to answer just the way a real Maple Leaf player would.

"Let me hear you say 'obviously.' Now kids, it's important to start every sentence with the word obviously. You always want to sound smarter than the person asking you the question.

"Remember, the real pro always answer specific questions in generalities. So when your folks ask, 'did you have fun?' the correct answer is something along the lines of 'obviously, any time you get to skate at the ACC, it's a thrill.' See. Nice and general.

"Just a couple more announcements. You're all going to be issued T-shirts. You will find a little slogan on the front that says, 'Salary cap: It was good enough for Michael Jordan, it's good enough for me.' Never mind what it means, just wear the shirt.

"Some bad news, we had to cancel the Tie Domi chain-swing ride. We were getting four or five kids jammed into each helmet and it became a bit of a safety thing.

"Now, kids, we know you would have loved to see your favourite Leaf but for the fact they are no longer, eh, playing. How many of you can name a current player?

"Anyone?

"Anyone at all?

"Well, believe me, at one time, this locker room was full of players, just a beehive, and we have some activities to remind you of the proud men who will someday again don the blue, white and silver.

"For example, there's free pop, candy and chips at Aki Berg's locker. Remember, if you're looking for giveaways, well, you'll do no better than Aki Berg, old No. 8.

PROTEIN SHAKE

"We have a protein shake machine over at Gary Roberts' locker. Kids, please don't put ice cream in the blender, it'll only spit it out.

"Kids, someday you can tell your grandmother or grandfather about the day you stood at Ed Belfour's locker. Who knows, maybe grandpa or grandma were in the same class.

"The important thing is that you'll be Leaf fans forever or until the players all come back, whichever comes first.

"Have a great day and remember: Go Leafs Go."


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