Nieuwy loved time with Leafs

MIKE ZEISBERGER and LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:17 AM ET

Joe Nieuwendyk wishes his brief stay with the Maple Leafs could have been more successful, at least from a team standpoint.

Nieuwendyk's one season in Toronto featured a veteran team that included the likes of Gary Roberts, Owen Nolan, Ed Belfour, Mats Sundin, Darcy Tucker and, after a late-season trade, Brian Leetch. Yet that 2003-04 squad still couldn't get past the Philadelphia Flyers in the second round.

"It was disappointing," said Nieuwendyk, who retired Wednesday. "We had a great dressing room and were one of the teams that had a shot but we came up a bit short.

"Still, I'll never regret playing for the team so close to my hometown (of Whitby), the team my idols played for. Every day was a pleasure coming to the Air Canada Centre where the people lived and breathed hockey."

GIVING 'EM FITZ

Ex-Leaf and Boston-area resident Tom Fitzgerald has traded his stick for a microphone and a coach's whistle. Retired this year, he does some broadcast work for NESN and is assistant coach at U. Mass-Lowell, where Toronto-area forwards Franky Stegnar and Jason Bergeron play.

AGENT NETS BOSTON GOALIES

Agent Bill Zito has a huge stake in the Bruins' future -- he represents their top three goalies, Tim Thomas, Hannu Toivonen and ex-Leafs' first-rounder Tuukka Rask.

"I've never met Tuukka," Thomas said. "But Hannu and I are friends outside our team relationship and attended a summer training camp in Chicago. Bill does a lot of work for Finnish goalies. I don't know if you want to call it difficult for Bill because he has to represent three different interests, but Tuukka is still in Europe. Once he comes over, then it might be (tricky)."

IROQUOIS VS. IRISH

Former Bruin Stan Jonathan is discussing a coaching role with the Iroquois Silver Hawks, who are slated to play in the second Canadian Multicultural tournament Dec. 27-29 in Toronto. It brings together 20 teams from various ethnic backgrounds. The Hawks will the play defending champion Irish Shamrocks tomorrow in an exhibition game at 5 p.m. at the Gaylord Powless Arena at the Six Nations Reserve near Brantford.


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