Wellwood absorbs 'big one'

MIKE ZEISBERGER, Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:27 AM ET

Andy Sutton rocked Kyle Wellwood's world.

Midway through the third period of the Maple Leafs' 4-0 win over the Atlanta Thrashers, Sutton crushed the Toronto rookie with a huge open-ice hit that sent pieces of equipment flying through the air.

"My stick broke in several pieces, my helmet broke, it was a big one," Wellwood admitted.

Once Wellwood shook off the cobwebs, he weaved toward the Leafs bench where his teammates were waiting.

"They told him: 'Nice hit Kyle,' " Leafs coach Pat Quinn said with a chuckle. "They figured he should get credit for the hit even though he took the worst of it."

Darcy Tucker claimed he yelled at Wellwood to watch out but the young forward didn't hear him.

"Sometimes as a centre your head is going to be down," Wellwood said. "It's part of playing the position."

Tucker, meanwhile, was inserted on the Leafs' top line alongside Mats Sundin and Alex Steen.

"It was great," Tucker said."I haven't played with Mats since training camp."

NO ORDINARY JOE

Jason Allison has a soft spot for Joe Thornton.

During their stint as teammates with the Boston Bruins, Allison became a mentor figure to the gangly kid from St.Thomas.

Because both had lanky physiques, Allison attempted to teach Thornton a few tricks of the trade.

"Most of all I tried to teach him to be patient," Allison said. "Young guys have a tendency to want to get rid of the puck right away. But when you have the type of natural skills he does, holding on to the puck often lets you use your natural talents for longer spurts.

"Even with the odd growing pain, you could tell he was going to be something special."

Count Allison among those who was shocked at the deal Wednesday that sent Thornton to the San Jose Sharks.

"I couldn't believe it at first," Allison said. "He definitely is going to be missed."

Allison was asked about the Bruins' history of conflicts between players and management.

"It's a great hockey market but (the Bruins) like to work with a tight budget," Allison said. "I don't really want to comment about that other stuff. That's their business, whether I agree with it or not."


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