Bonding will be Taboo for Leafs

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:02 AM ET

Now that they seem to be falling into place with one another on the ice, the Maple Leafs are going to get a chance to get to know one another in a somewhat friendlier atmosphere.

The Leafs hopped on a bus yesterday morning for Gravenhurst, where they will stay until tomorrow, one last bonding experience before the regular season begins Wednesday night at the Air Canada Centre against arch-rival Ottawa Senators.

For the Leafs who have been around, it will be one last time to improve their handicap before the snow falls. For others, such as newcomer Jeff O'Neill, it's a welcome opportunity to put personalities to the names.

"It's important for me because I think these guys are a fun bunch to hang out with," O'Neill said. "They certainly don't leave anything when it comes to making fun of each other and having fun. It's a really good group of guys."

Though getting along with each other away from the office is not the only way to get the on-ice job done, O'Neill can't see any negatives.

"Every team I have been on, you have to learn to care for your teammate as a person before you go out there to battle with them," O'Neill said. "All the good teams I have been on have had good chemistry off the ice. It's already here and we can just build on it now."

FIRST DAY OFF

The Leafs, who had their first day off yesterday since training camp began, are staying at the five-star Taboo Resort, where the golf course is home of Canadian star Mike Weir. A couple of early morning hockey practices are in the plans too.

Captain Mats Sundin not only likes what he sees in the dressing room with the additions of O'Neill, Jason Allison, Eric Lindros, Mariusz Czerkawski, Alexander Khavanov and Alex Steen but also what's happening on the ice. The Leafs swept a home-and-home with the Detroit Red Wings to finish the pre-season 4-4.

"I think we have been improving and we are going to keep improving," Sundin said.

"We still have a lot of work to do. I think we know that as a group. I like our attitude in the dressing room. I think all the new faces are a good fit, and they have a great attitude. We are going to get stronger as the season goes on."


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