Blake finding his way in T.O.

LANCE HORNBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:41 AM ET

New Maple Leaf Jason Blake had found the cluttered grid of Toronto streets a lot more daunting than the spacious suburbs of Long Island.

But he re-discovered his comfort zone yesterday, on the ice at Lakeshore Lions Arena in his first workout in Leaf colours. The free-agent Blake, Toronto's most important skill acquisition in a few years, joined Darcy Tucker, Nik Antropov, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Matt Stajan, Andrew Raycroft, Hal Gill and a group of NHLers and Marlies.

A LITTLE NERVOUS

"After seven years in New York, I was a little nervous," he said of facing his new teammates. "It was also my first time on skates since (getting eliminated) in Game 5 of the playoff series against Buffalo.

"But I've trained off ice all summer. My goal is to be as ready as I can be for the first day of camp. Today was good to meet a lot of the guys."

Most observers believe Blake will line up this season on Mats Sundin's left wing, to see if the career-high 40 goals he supplied the Isles last year can be duplicated or bettered. But coach Paul Maurice would also like to see how he fares alongside centre Kyle Wellwood.

Blake arrives a year after the oft-injured Antropov put together his most productive year as a Leaf, 18 goals, mostly as a regular with Sundin. But though the towering Sundin-Antropov-Ponikarovsky line can dominate the corners, the need for a scoring touch on the line was exposed late in the year when Sundin's offence dried up.

National Hockey Leaguers began informal workouts throughout the continent this month, though no interaction with coaches is permitted until camps begin next month. The Toronto players do get to use the team's Lakeshore training base.

"I've given my navigation system quite a workout the past few days," Blake said. "It's quite a change after being so long with one team, but it was time for a change and I think I made the right decision coming here."


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