Leafs bite their tongues

Toronto Maple Leafs' Darcy Tucker. (SUN/Ernest Doroszuk)

Toronto Maple Leafs' Darcy Tucker. (SUN/Ernest Doroszuk)

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:51 AM ET

If the Maple Leafs figure tonight's meeting against the Atlanta Thrashers might digress into The Brouhaha on Bay St., most were doing their best to downplay the possibility yesterday.

Darcy Tucker claimed he holds no lingering bitterness toward Andy Sutton, the man who gashed open Tucker's face by smearing it into a steel partition back on Oct. 14.

Tie Domi refuted any notion the Leafs might seek retribution for the brawlfest between the two teams that night, saying it is all "in the past."

HEAD-HUNTING

Listening to these guys, it appeared all was lovey-dovey.

Pat Quinn then addressed the media. Quickly, the mood changed.

Quinn, who accused the Thrashers of head-hunting during the Leafs' 9-1 victory five weeks ago, obviously has not backed off his suspicions that Atlanta coach Bob Hartley orchestrated such a game plan.

"It's not hard for me to play against (Hartley)," he said yesterday. "I don't have to go out there. But sometimes you'd like to crawl across the bench and ... "

Quinn didn't finish the sentence. He didn't have to.

"I wasn't making anything up," Quinn said of his previous allegations that the Trashers used goon tactics that bloody night in Dixie.

"Whether their coach promoted it, I don't necessarily know that. But patterns usually show up and that's what I was commenting on."

Quinn rejected the idea the Leafs encouraged the Thrasher thuggery by piling up the goals in Atlanta's home arena.

"I think it was (Don) Cherry who said that, if I'm not mistaken. That was way off-base," Quinn said.

"I don't think we tried to run up the score. (The refs) threw half our people out of the game. You've got to put someone out on the ice. (Atlanta) kept taking the stupid penalties."

With the score 6-1, the Leafs felt Eric Boulton went after the head of Eric Lindros, causing Domi and Wade Belak to enter the fray.

Minutes later, Sutton rammed Tucker's head into the metal barrier that separates the panes of glass behind the net. Sutton subsequently was suspended five games by the league.

"I don't think he was trying to hurt me," Tucker said.

"Maybe he was trying to finish his check. Maybe he was a bit overzealous but he plays the game hard. Give him credit for that. He's a character guy. I have no ill feelings at all."

Tucker, who suffered a bruised quad in the Leafs' 4-1 victory over the Boston Bruins Thursday, was told by doctors yesterday no serious damage was done.

He said he likely will be a game-time decision.

Quinn was non-committal when asked if Belak might be inserted into the lineup to add muscle, especially if Tucker can't go.

Belak used to play for Hartley with Hershey of the American Hockey League.

"I know what (Hartley's) like," Belak said. "I don't agree with some of the stuff, that's for sure."

Whether Belak plays or not,Quinn knows his squad can take care of itself.

"I don't (expect any nonsense)," he said. "We have a team that will stick up for each other if that happens. But as coaches we don't prepare for that.

"We prepare to win."


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