After assuring a couple of reporters last week that he was a happy camper in Toronto, Mats Sundin avoided his traditional opening-day training-camp scrum at the Ricoh Coliseum yesterday, believed to be a first in his 16 years as a Maple Leaf.
A club media relations spokesman blamed it on a "communications breakdown." Restrictions are placed on media access to players at the Ricoh and Sundin apparently exited a side door after his medical testing was complete. Sundin isolates himself in Europe most of the summer but, as captain, he always draws the biggest crowd of journalists on Day 1.
Michael Peca is ready to assume some of the spotlight in Toronto and he got a taste of the attention yesterday.
"The good media attention, I am really looking forward to it," Peca said with a smile. "I grew up here, I know what it is like. I have no problem with it. As a citizen of this great city, you are aware of how important the team is. We all take that very seriously."
Having coached Bates Battaglia with the Carolina Hurricanes and the Marlies, Paul Maurice knows what the winger can bring.
Will it be enough for Battaglia to get a true shot at cracking the Leafs' roster?
"I have seen at him at his best -- big and strong, handling the puck, going to the net," Maurice said. "If he can do those things, he is going to get a look.
"I have confidence in him. But he is going to have to be more than average because he is getting to a point where there are younger players. Bates and I did not always see eye-to-eye, but I know he has matured in terms of preparation."
The Leafs have 55 players in camp, including injured Marlies captain Marc Moro. General manager John Ferguson isn't sure which configuation of 23 forwards, defence and goaltenders will start the regular season on Oct. 4 here against Ottawa.
"Seven defencemen makes sense," Ferguson said. "There will likely be a mix of 13-7-2 and have Wade Belak as a swing guy. You could also make it 13, 8 and 2 or maybe 13, 7 and 3 out of the gate. That (three goalies) could be the case at the start, but not over time."