Some survival tips for the incoming Leaf coach

BILL LANKHOF -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:09 AM ET

Helpful hints so Paul Maurice can survive next season as coach of the Maple Leafs:

1. Convince Tie Domi to forget recent dreams of winning the Lady Byng.

2. Team apologists keep saying they're not too slow, so must convince Jason Allison and Nik Antropov to play in same time zone as linemates.

3. Stop at drugstore. Buy Obus Form for Ed Belfour and for Jean-Sebastian Aubin a reality check.

4. Pick up keys to executive washroom; lock in Richard Peddie before he has any more brilliant ideas.

5. Phone Mats Sundin. Beg him to stay. Offer moon, first-born child or something really valuable, like a tank of gasoline.

CHEQUES AND BALANCES

Larry Tanenbaum, chairman of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd., despite the rubble of the Raptors and Leafs' seasons, told reporters this week that: "We're only focused on building winning teams here. That's what our board and shareholders are all about."

Right.

And as soon as they get finished counting all their lovely money they'll be getting right on that 'winning' thing.

THE GOOD-BYE BOYS

Sundin is selling his home in Toronto amidst reports he's unhappy with management and the direction the team has taken. So the skids are greased for another unhappy departure of a once-beloved superstar.

Why does it always seem to end this way? Why does Dave Keon have to leave in a huff? Rick Vaive and Darryl Sittler were both given a ticket on the last stage out of Dodgetown and Curtis Joseph went from top dog to dog meat.

And it's not just hockey.

George Bell walked away mad and Dave Stieb felt abused. Carlos Delgado's reputation somehow went from all-around swell guy to a swelled head matched only by his swelled paycheque.

Even the Raptors in their short history have seen their two best players, Tracy McGrady and Vince Carter, go from owning the town to dissing it.

Money has sometimes been the root of the evil.

They don't call this place Hogtown for nothing.

But just as often players have been bullied, disrespected or made to feel as if they are on a treadmill of defeat. If Sundin departs, now is a good time to remember that. You know, before anyone starts throwing rotten figurative veggies his way.

THE LADY IS A SCAMP

It's Desperate Housewives meets The Sopranos. Coming soon to bookstores is the autobiography of Vicki LaMotta, former wife of boxer Jake LaMotta.

Their turbulent life was depicted in the movie Raging Bull. But while the movie centred on the controversial boxer, her book, tentatively titled Knockout, is the story of Vicki, who died in 2005 at age 75.

"She wrote it almost 15 years ago but it was so hot and controversial that she decided to keep it from publication until after her death, and then only with the approval of her son, Harrison," says Wayne Parrish, whose SPORTClassic Publishing company, of Toronto, has the rights to the book.

Vicki relates tales of dating the head of the U.S. mob, movie stars such as Frank Sinatra, as well as the story behind her posing nude for Playboy ... when she was 51.

She lent her name to a cosmetics line, made commercials, appeared on TV talk shows and glamed-up fight arenas. In other words, Vicki makes Anna Benson look like a Sunday school teacher.

THE OUT OF TOWNERS

Mark Heisler of the Los Angeles Times picks Mike D'Antoni of the Phoenix Suns as coach of the year: "Apparently, he and (Steve) Nash would make a run at the playoffs with 11 guys from the YMCA."

Dwight Perry, Seattle Times: "Kirby Puckett's fiancee and children can't agree on who should take possession of his cremated remains. Guess the legal paperwork didn't include a future-urnings provision."

SMART 'N' SASSY

"I was incredibly moved by the fact that they named their son after me. Not sure what the middle name is, but I suggested 'To'." -- Former quarterback Pat Haden on J.K. McKay, his favourite prep and college receiver, naming his newborn Haden McKay.


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