Up-tempo game excites Kilger

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:20 AM ET

Changes may bring an element of fear in some people but a couple of Maple Leafs are looking forward to seeing the new landscape at training camp in September.

Since Chad Kilger and Alexei Ponikarovsky last wore the uniform, Pat Quinn was fired and replaced by Paul Maurice, Tie Domi and Ed Belfour were cut loose, Andrew Raycroft was acquired in a trade and Pavel Kubina and Hal Gill were signed to long-term deals.

"It will be a whole new atmosphere around the rink with Paul," Kilger said. "I think our style of play will be different. He is talking about an up-tempo game and personally I am really looking forward to it. You start changing the chemistry a bit and with younger guys coming in, it's the direction the organization is going."

Ponikarovsky was not sure a coaching change was needed, but given the lack of a playoff berth, saw why it was done.

"It's hard to say," said Ponikarovsky, who broke out last season with 21 goals. "If (management) decided to change the coach, then that's the way it is. I don't know (Maurice) personally, but from what the guys are saying, he is a good coach. We'll see what his strategies are and you just try to fit in."

Ponikarovsky, who was in third in Leafs goal-scoring behind Mats Sundin and Darcy Tucker, is anticipating building on a successful season.

"I think you feel more comfortable because you know what you are capable of and people expect more from you," the 26-year-old said.

"I don't say I am going to score something like 40 or 50 goals, I am just saying that I will play the same way I did last year."

ANTROPOV STAYING PUT

The agent for Nik Antropov expects his client to sign a one-way contract with the Leafs, thereby avoiding arbitration, which Antropov did not select before the deadline yesterday.

"We'll probably have a one-year deal on a one-way basis for the qualifier (amount)," Don Meehan said.

The Leafs last month sent Antropov a qualifier with a two-way offer, which they could do because he played in less than 60 games last season and was an unrestricted free agent.

The qualifier included an NHL salary of just over $1 million US or $95,000 Canadian in the event Antropov would be sent to the minors. But the Leafs didn't have an intent of sending Antropov to the Toronto Marlies.


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