Czerkawski on first line

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 1:45 PM ET

Coach Pat Quinn seemed to be questioning his own sanity -- or at least his sense of loyalty to his players -- by putting ineffective winger Mariusz Czerkawski on the first line with Mats Sundin tonight against the Ottawa Senators.

"Ordinarily, you'd think maybe he'd come in on the bottom line," said Quinn, who has relegated Czerkawski to the press box the past eight games -- and buried him much of the season after just one assist in seven games.

"But we're going to put him there to see if they can complement each other. You try and get skill (to mesh). To have a chance to succeed, Mariusz needs a guy who can move the puck around for him."

Czerkawski knows this evening is a big chance to exit the dog house.

"Ottawa's a great team and I haven't played for a couple of weeks, but I will try and get my legs ready," he said. "Mentally, you're excited to be back in the lineup. You just hope the puck bounces your way right away."

Czerkawski was asked if he might try something dynamic tonight to change his luck.

"You mean drop the gloves and start fighting?," he said with a laugh. "You never know, but you can't change your style of hockey when you're 33 years old. It's just the way it is.

"But you definitely have to be responsible on defence and maybe you can create something up front. I've had some good games against Ottawa before (his lone point was against them to give him 24 points in 34 games) and hopefully (tonight) will be another one.

"I practised with Mats the past couple of games and at least he and I and Alex Steen can all speak Swedish."

BACK END STEPS UP

Though the Leafs are 0-for-3 against Ottawa this year, Toronto's defence can claim some spoils. In the three games, they have a combined 12 points. Prior to this season, the career regular season numbers for Bryan McCabe, Tomas Kaberle, Aki Berg, Alex Khavanov, Ken Klee, Carlo Colaiacovo, Wade Belak and Staffan Kronwall against the Sens were 132 games, four goals and 25 assists.

STEALING FROM THE SENS

It was 75 years ago today that the Maple Leafs completed the Doug Gilmour trade of that era, acquiring defenceman King Clancy from the Senators. It cost Toronto manager Conn Smythe $35,000 Cdn., defenceman Art Smith and left wing Eric Pettinger.

About $10,000 of the cash came from a longshot win at the race track on a horse named Rare Jewel.


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