Stajan helping cousins excel

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:19 AM ET

Matt Stajan barely is into his third full season in the National Hockey League but already he has grasped the role of valuable mentor.

The 22-year-old has been keeping a close eye on the Ontario Hockey League, where a couple of his first cousins -- Thomas Stajan of the Owen Sound Attack and Jake Laplante of the Peterborough Petes -- are rookies.

Stajan has the OHL package on TV and tries to watch as many of their games as his schedule allows.

"I keep in touch with them, send them text messages and talk to them when I can," Stajan said.

"I offer them advice. I try to tell them to enjoy the time and that they are in that league for a reason.

"As it was once my dream to play in the NHL, it is theirs too. So I am going to do anything I can to help them."

Stajan is not just providing lip service. During the summer, he hired a private skating instructor and had his cousins on the ice with him.

That Stajan experienced the OHL so recently is a bonus. His third and final OHL season, all with the Belleville Bulls, was in 2002-03.

"He is a great influence," Thomas Stajan said.

"It helps to talk to him because he knows what we are going through. Before I went to camp I talked to him about what to expect. We're pretty lucky."

RAZOR PUTS ON BLADES

As he said he would, Andrew Raycroft went for a skate on his own yesterday and reported no adverse effects to general manager John Ferguson.

The Leafs goalie suffered a mild groin strain last Thursday in Boston against the Bruins and still is planning to get back in the crease this Thursday, again in Boston.

"We will get a better indication how he feels (today)," Ferguson said.

BRIEFLY

The Leafs will hold their annual open practice Sunday at 10:30 a.m. at the Air Canada Centre.

Tickets are $5.50. The annual skills competition, meanwhile, is Dec. 3 at the ACC.


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