Steen builds on success

Alexander Steen, seen here after being drafted by the Maple Leafs with Darryl Sittler, says being...

Alexander Steen, seen here after being drafted by the Maple Leafs with Darryl Sittler, says being able to give back to the community is something dear to his heart. (Toronto Sun File/David Lucas)

KEN WIEBE -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:12 AM ET

With one season of playing in the fishbowl environment known simply as Leafs Nation under his belt, Alexander Steen sees plenty of reason for optimism.

The Toronto Maple Leafs missed the Stanley Cup playoffs last season, but Steen, who was born in Winnipeg, was one of the bright spots.

Heading into the season, there has been some speculation that Steen might be lining up alongside captain Mats Sundin on a regular basis.

"There's a lot of occasions out on the ice where you have your stick on the ice and he just seems to find you," Steen said at a press conference to officially unveil the 2007 Thomas and Alexander Steen Classic golf tournament in support of the Children's Hospital Foundation. "We definitely clicked and hopefully we'll get the chance to do it again. If not, there's another group of great players to play with. Wherever Paul (Maurice) wants to play me, I'll accept that role.

"It's definitely going to be exciting. We've made some off-season moves and right now the team looks good and we're going to be competitive. We look bigger and stronger. We've got a new coaching staff and I can't wait until training camp starts."

Alexander said he took some time to reflect on his rookie season after returning to Sweden for the summer.

"I had a chance to relax a bit and let it sink in," said Alexander. "Looking back, it was an unbelievable experience. A great first season, the way the teammates and the organization was really supportive. It made the transition relatively easy."

Steen, 22, put up great numbers in his rookie season, producing 18 goals and 45 points in 75 games.

Did he exceed even his own expectations?

"I played with great players last year and I knew what I was capable of," said Alexander, who spent the lockout season playing for Modo in the Swedish Elite League. "It's something I need to build on for this year. Hopefully now I'll get more responsibilities, more ice time and get a chance to prove myself even more now."

Thomas, who starred with the Winnipeg Jets, said it was amazing to watch his son realize a dream and play in the NHL last season.

"It was very exciting to see how he handled everything," said Thomas, who works as a scout for the Minnesota Wild. "It was more exciting than when I was playing myself, because then I was so focused on playing the game. Now I can watch and enjoy it.

"Seeing him play on the same team with Tie Domi, who I played with, was pretty special because it brought back memories from when I was starting out at a young age. It's fun to see him succeed and have fun."

When asked by a reporter, which Steen was the better golfer, the son was quick to offer a response.

"One is 22 and the other is 45," said Alexander. "I guess we'll wait until next year."

The press conference was held at River Heights Community Centre, where Alexander played his first game as a rangy four-year-old.

Being able to give back to the community is something dear to Steen's heart.

"Growing up, I always had great people around me. I was always in a good crowd, had good friends and my family always supported me with my hockey," said Alexander, who also plans to establish the Amadeus Steen Foundation in memory of his brother who died at a young age. "I was real fortunate. That's what youths need nowadays. People who believe in them and help support them in what they want to do."


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