New views for hockey veterans

TERRY KOSHAN

, Last Updated: 7:17 AM ET

Among the fathers who accompanied the Maple Leafs to Philadelphia for last night's game were two men who know all about life on the road in the National Hockey League.

But the trip for Thomas Steen and John Ferguson Sr. was a highlight nonetheless.

"Even though I played, this is something different," Steen, now a scout for the Minnesota Wild, said.

"I never get to be with my son (Alex) on a trip like this. When I got the call that this was happening, I was so excited. And to hang around with the other dads who have a common interest, it's great."

The fathers, and some other relatives filling in for dads who could not make it, had dinner with the players on Wednesday night in Philadelphia. Later, Leafs colour analyst Jim Ralph entertained with his unique sense of humour.

Ferguson Sr. is battling cancer and said he is "doing all right."

A feared competitor when he played, Ferguson was touched to be a part of the trip.

"It's wonderful," Ferguson said. "Gordie Howe had a chance to play with his two sons and I'm here with my son, who is a general manager, and I was a general manager for 17 years, so it is pretty special."

Steen and Ferguson go back to their days together in Winnipeg, when Steen played for Ferguson. The latter remembered young Alex Steen, and actually faced him a few times. Ferguson, it seems, played goal at a few team parties.

"At two or three years old, he always had a hockey stick in his hand," Ferguson said of Alex Steen. "He was a chip off the old block. He had ability and I always thought he would make it."

Said Alex Steen: "We still have framed pictures at home of Christmas skates when me and John Sr. would play. We had a lot of good times in Winnipeg and owe a lot of thanks to John."

POHL RETURNS

Leafs forward John Pohl was back in the lineup after missing three games with back spasms. Pohl previously had not missed a game with back problems.

"I treat it during the season to avoid stuff like what happened," Pohl said. "In Nashville (last week) I was stretching and something just grabbed and my muscles tightened up. I was fortunate it was just a few days (that he was out)."


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