Leafs to get 'second home'

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:15 AM ET

Bob Hunter's search for the perfect practice facility took him to places such as Dallas, New York and Phoenix.

"We want the best in the NHL," Hunter, executive vice-president with Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment Ltd., said yesterday.

Hunter believes that dream may come to fruition should the final land transfer be completed for a $20-million-plus centre near Lakeshore Lions Arena, where the team works out now.

The proposed complex, just north of Lakeshore Collegiate Institute on the west side of Kipling Ave., would include four ice pads and separate dressing rooms for the Marlies and Maple Leafs.

"We want to make it a second home for the guys," Hunter said. "We want it to be the place where they do their off-season training. From a medical and therapy standpoint, we plan to have the best and most updated equipment there is.

"The exciting thing is, we get to create our own space. We get to start from scratch."

The proposed facility would be built and operated by the Lions Club, which will lease the land from the city of Toronto. The city will own the building and the land.

Hunter said construction would need to start in the spring in order to meet the proposed completion date of fall 2007.

Other proposed tenants include Hockey Canada and the Hockey Hall of Fame.

BEACH BOY?

Imagine lanky Jason Allison on a surfboard.

We're not joking.

"I tried it a few times," said Allison, who lived in fashionable Manhattan Beach during his two seasons with the Los Angeles Kings. "I wasn't very good, but I needed to attempt it. It's California, isn't it?"

Playing hockey in Lotusland had its positives, including the sunshine and the movie stars who often could be found in the Kings dressing room after games.

But it can't compare to the enjoyment of hockey life in Toronto with the Maple Leafs.

"The excitement that surrounds the team here is important to me and is something that I find amazing," he said. "It's what it's all about -- the loyal fans here.

"I wanted to be close to home, Toronto being the first choice."


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