Richardson likes former team

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:25 AM ET

It didn't take very long for veteran defenceman Luke Richardson to haunt his former Maple Leafs teammates.

Just 11:24 into the first period, Richardson's point shot snuck through a gaggle of bodies and through goalie Andrew Raycroft to put the host Tampa Bay Lightning up 1-0 last night.

The goal, originally credited to Richardson, was later awarded to Brad Richards, who apparently had the puck deflect off his toe. Richardson did get an assist on the play.

Richardson was acquired by the Maple Leafs from the Columbus Blue Jackets last March at the trade deadline and experienced Toronto's late-season playoff run that fell just short.

With the Leafs deciding to go in a different direction over the summer, Richardson was cast adrift. He holds no ill-will toward Toronto management and feels the Leafs brass has the team pointed in the right direction by going younger and faster.

"I saw those guys at the top of their game the final 20 games last season, especially the kids," Richardson said. "They have a lot of good young talent coming up the ranks.

"It would be easy to trade some of those kids for established stars, especially in Toronto where there is always pressure to win now. But it's good that they are holding on to them. These guys are going to be the stars of the future.

"You have to be patient when building a team. It's even more so like that in the salary cap era. That's hard to do in Toronto given the expectations of the fans and the media, but I think it's very important that they hang on to the Kyle Wellwoods and the Alex Steens."

Big screen Buds

Tonight's Maple Leafs-Panthers game can be seen at 25 Cineplex theatres across the GTA and Ontario, where the action will be broadcast on 50-foot wall-to-wall screens in Dolby Digital Surround Sound and in High Definition.

Fans in attendance at the Silver City Yonge-Eglinton theatre can meet former Leafs captain Darryl Sittler, who will sign autographs prior to the game.

One dollar from every ticket sold will go the Captains' Fund, which provides bursaries to young hockey players to help offset registration costs for minor hockey programs.


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