Goaltender Mikael Tellqvist yesterday finally got his first start of the 2006-2007 season.
It just wasn't with his team of preference.
The third man out in the goaltender sweepstakes on the Maple Leafs, Tellqvist was in the nets yesterday for the American Hockey League Toronto Marlies, a team and a league he thought he had seen the last of.
Tellqvist was sent to the Marlies on a conditioning assignment which did not require him to clear waivers.
"They asked me if I wanted to go down and play and obviously I said yes," Tellqvist said after allowing five goals in a 5-4 overtime loss to the Hershey Bears. "There's no fun just sitting around. Getting a chance to play a game was awesome."
Still, it's a situation he'd like to see ultimately resolved.
"I think it's frustrating for everybody," he said.
Being back in the minor leagues, though, is something he thought was part of his past.
"Things happen very quick," Tellqvist said. "I think it's a good solution because just sitting around doing nothing and not getting a chance to play in a game is not good for anybody. Did I think I was going to be here again? Probably not, but things happen and I've just got to deal with it."
There is no minimum amount of time Tellqvist has to serve. Traditionally, players are put on conditioning assignments for a maximum of two weeks. But at least as long as he's with the Marlies, he'll play.
"As of right now he'll remain with us until we hear different," Marlies coach Greg Gilbert said. "I'm sure they (the Leafs) want him to play as many games as possible to keep him sharp."
In the meantime, the Marlies will use either rookie Justin Pogge, who needs playing time as well, or veteran J.F. Racine as the backup.
"It's something they're going to have to deal with and that's part of the situation in the American Hockey League. When guys are sent down and they have to play, other guys are going to have to sit out and watch," Gilbert said. "That's all part of it."
Tellqvist, who played just two pre-season games for the Leafs, the last on Sept. 27, didn't show many signs of rust as he could be faulted on just one of the shots that beat him -- a slapshot from 30 feet out that zipped over his right shoulder.
The other four, including the overtime marker by Lawrence Nycholat, came from defensive miscues -- specifically poor clearing in front of the Marlies net.
The Marlies, meanwhile, received goals from rookie Jiri Tlusty, defenceman Chris Harrington, Brett Engelhardt and a power-play marker from Colin Murphy.
The Marlies made two other roster moves yesterday as they signed veteran forward Nathan Perrott to a professional tryout contract while defenceman David Pszenyczny, who played yesterday, was signed to a amateur tryout contract.
Perrott is expected to join the Marlies today.