Belfour a born winner

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:17 AM ET

The Maple Leafs have gambled two contracts on Ed Belfour and had them both pay off.

Tonight, Belfour will himself be out for a big Gamble, namely Bruce, the late Toronto goaltender who sits one win ahead of him in Leafs career victories.

Passing and catching Gamble's 82 wins at some point in the next few games will set up Belfour's run at Terry Sawchuk, another ex-Leaf who is two victories ahead of Belfour for second place in National Hockey League history with 447.

Reflecting on the coming milestones, Belfour credited a competitive instinct that he said jokingly must have started in the cradle and continues as he approaches his 41st birthday.

HATED TO LOSE

"I don't know where it comes from," he said yesterday. "From kindergarten to grade school I played every sport I could and I hated to lose."

Belfour yesterday thanked his two personal tutors, Vladislav Tretiak and his more- recent advisor, Steve McKichan, for prolonging his NHL service. The Leafs have a team option on Belfour's contract for next season.

Now that he has become better acquainted with new NHL rules on equipment and puck-handling, Belfour is back in form. The Leafs have made Belfour's life easier during this four-game win streak by cleaning up their act defensively and staying out of the penalty box.

"We're giving Ed a lot more help than before," defenceman Bryan McCabe said. "He's not having to stop 60 shots every night."


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