Thrashers much improved

TERRY KOSHAN and LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:37 AM ET

There was a time when the Atlanta Thrashers were not much more than an evening snack for many NHL clubs but not now.

"They have a lot of talent," Maple Leafs coach Pat Quinn said. "Many of the advantages entering this season went to clubs like Atlanta, Calgary, ones that have been lousy for awhile, but were not only able to have good young guys but have the (salary)cap in the right spot too."

The Thrashers added free agents Peter Bondra and Bobby Holik and acquired Marian Hossa from the Ottawa Senators.

WORLD JUNIOR IN 2009?

The Leafs are considering strongly making a bid to play host to the 2009 world junior championship.

"There have been a lot of discussions with Hockey Canada of late," Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment executive Bob Hunter said. "Given the fact we have the Air Canada Centre, and the Ricoh Coliseum is available, we are looking at this very seriously."

NO CRASH COURSE

Ed Belfour never has been afraid to protect his goalie crease and if he has to be more vigilant, so be it.

With the crackdown on obstruction in full swing, forwards are having a field day driving to the net unimpeded.

"There is definitely some of that going on but (the league) wants to create more scoring, so they're happy and they don't really care about it," Belfour said. "I've never had a problem (with protecting himself). I have always tried to take care of the crease anyway. For the most the referees try to do a good job of protecting you."

BRIEFLY

Captain Mats Sundin, nursing a fractured left orbital bone, met with reporters yesterday, reiterating that other than feeling tired and experiencing blurry vision, is on the road to recovery. There remains no set date for Sundin's return to the lineup, let alone when he might hit the ice again for workouts ... The Leafs recalled defenceman Andy Wozniewski, who played Wednesday night for the Toronto Marlies ... Steve Thomas, who was unsuccessful in a tryout in training camp, has been contacted by the Chicago Blackhawks. But Thomas' goal remains to sign with Toronto.


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