Bob Hunter, executive vice-president of Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment Ltd., yesterday predicted the first shovels will dig into the frozen soil for the team's new state-of-the-art practice facility "in February or March."
Count Maple Leafs coach among those who can't wait for the opening of the four-pad, $29-million US arena, which is scheduled to be completed in time for Toronto's 2008 training camp.
"I remember when we first went to Carolina with the Hurricanes," Maurice said. "The first place we practised, the ice was bigger than Olympic size and the dressing room was a converted weight room.
"A good practice facility is very important, especially with the Marlies being there as well. And since we know there is ice time, I won't have to leave the house at 5:30 a.m."
Maurice and Hunter joined defenceman Pavel Kubina, goaltending prospect Justin Pogge and Marlies coach Greg Gilbert to help launch the Lakeshore Revitalization project at a school assembly with the students of Lakeshore Collegiate Institute yesterday.
The revitalization project includes the new practice facility, which will also have the Hockey Hall of Fame and Hockey Canada as tenants. The complex will be located on a 10-acre plot on the west side of Kipling Ave., just north of Lakeshore Collegiate.
About 20,000 square feet of the new digs have been designated for the Leafs, with another 8,000 square feet allotted for the American Hockey League's Marlies.
With Andrew Raycroft expected to start against his former team tomorrow night, there will be no shortage of storylines at the TD Banknorth Garden.
Unfortunately for Boston Bruin fans, off-season additions like Zdeno Chara, Marc Savard and coach Dave Lewis have not equated into victories.
The Bruins are off to a 4-6-2 start including a 5-1 loss to the Atlanta Thrashers Monday night.
"That probably was our poorest effort of the season," Bruins forward Glen Murray said yesterday from Boston. "We have to stop taking so many penalties. We have to adapt to the new game better."