Who will wing it?

Eric Lindros speaks to the media during a press conference at the Air Canada Centre August 11,...

Eric Lindros speaks to the media during a press conference at the Air Canada Centre August 11, 2005. The Maple Leafs announced the signing of the power forward. (SUN/Mark O'Neill)

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 11:09 AM ET

You are Pat Quinn, you have three potential first-line centres, a 60-minute game clock and one puck.

Will the coach of the Maple Leafs stack one of his lines or let Mats Sundin, Eric Lindros and Jason Allison fight for the 1-2-3 pecking order?

"My intention is to leave them (at centre) for the start of the year," Quinn said yesterday from Kelowna, B.C., where he is preparing for Team Canada's orientation camp. "You can change guys around, but from my standpoint, we'll find those three enough ice time.

"For one thing, there is going to be lots of power-play time for them as we adjust to the new rules. And once you get that game pace up (5-on-5) you use all four of your lines. If you don't, production drops.

"The good thing with having a lot of centres as we do is that they can move to the wing."

EXPERIMENTS

Harry Neale, the dean of TV analysts, sees lots of "credit card" room for experiments with the Leafs' new weaponry. He can see Sundin centring Lindros, perhaps dropping Jeff O'Neill to play with Allison and going with Darcy Tucker or Nik Antropov as first and second-line left wingers.

"I don't know if you can find three sets of wingers to play with Sundin, Lindros and Allison," Neale said.

"You do have the potential for two really dangerous lines. I think Sundin and Lindros would play together with a lot of enthusiasm. Sundin is generous with the puck and remember, he has played a long time here without a (star) winger."

Other centres who have played the wing in the past include Antropov, Tucker, Chad Kilger and Matt Stajan. Kyle Wellwood and Alex Steen also will be in the mix at camp in a few weeks at the Ricoh Centre.

"I think we're going to have a lot of different looks," Quinn predicted.

While there is plenty of size and finesse up front, the Leafs have some rock-'em, sock-'em types in Tie Domi, Wade Belak and Nathan Perrott on the third and fourth checking lines. Alexei Ponikarovsky remains unsigned.

Belak can play wing or defence. Rookie defencemen such as Carlo Colaiacovo, Ian White, Brendan Bell and Jay Harrison are no doubt hoping he stays up to open a spot or two. Bryan McCabe, ex-St. Louis Blue Alex Khavanov, Tomas Kaberle, Ken Klee and Aki Berg are the starting five.

"Don Lever (Blues' assistant coach) is my neighbour and he says Khavanov can really move the puck and join the rush," Neale said. "That gives them some good puck-handlers back there. But I think they have to find a big penalty killing specialist, too."


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