No shortage of drama surrounding Leafs, Habs

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:45 AM ET

Roman Savon is the French term for soap opera, a concept the Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens know far too well.

You want sex? Crime? Political brouhahas? Boardroom back stabbing?

Put away the television clicker and simply follow the trials and tribulations of the Leafs and Habs.

It's the type of stuff that would make a Hollywood scriptwriter's head spin.

Were this the hockey backwaters of Nashville or Phoenix, where the game barely is a blip on the sporting radar, finding a goalie passed out in an alley curled up with three busty hookers and a hash pipe likely would elicit little more than a headline on the back pages reading: "Player arrested for loitering."

But in the fishbowls of Toronto and Montreal, where hockey is a deep-rooted religion, every day seems to be an episode of Daze of Our Lives.

Even Leafs coach Paul Maurice has noticed the trend.

"(The Canadiens) always seem to have the same critical emergencies away from the game, which makes their situation similar to ours," Maurice said.

Maurice had no idea how prophetic those words would be. Five minutes after uttering them, he was cornered by a reporter inquiring about the nude photos of rookie Jiri Tlusty that had been circulating on the Internet.

Cut Tlusty some slack. He's a teenager who used some bad judgment.

I mean, who among us didn't make the odd poor decision at age 19? And please, those of you who remember mine, no need to send in incriminating e-mails, thanks.

Poor Maurice. Here he was, dealing with L'Affair Tlusty after he just finished deflecting questions about the fact that Sean Avery was next door to the ACC discussing with NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell the pre-game incident involving Jason Blake and Darcy Tucker on Saturday.

Leafs players have hinted that Avery made some derogatory comments about Tucker's family. Haven't these guys heard that hockey sticks and stones will break your bones but names, well, never mind.

Eight days ago, the pressing storyline was the return to action of forward Mark Bell following an NHL-imposed 15-game suspension.

Sixteen months earlier, an intoxicated Bell had rammed into a pickup truck, eventually pleading no contest to a pair of charges and, all the while, bid adieu to the cursed bottle for good.

In the trainers' room, there has been no shortage of storylines either. Pavel Kubina is on the shelf after an injury-plagued 2006-07 season, while defenceman Carlo Colaiacovo, well, will he ever be back?

Then there are all the front- office follies.

Believing he would get an extension during the summer, John Ferguson did not receive one, leaving some calling him a "lame duck" general manager. A report Saturday on Hockey Night in Canada that former goalie Glenn Healy might be in line for the job down the road is just another headache Ferguson does not need.

Of course, five hours to the east, the Canadiens have their own Roman Savon.

The big controversy a couple of weeks back involved captain Saku Koivu, who was criticized for not introducing his teammates in French on opening night. Given the fact that his wife speaks French and his kids are in a French immersion school, it seems like a silly accusation made against a role model who successfully beat cancer.

Of course, in Montreal, like in Toronto, such controversies are as common as poutine and smoked meat.

Last season, the Habs dealt with having Koivu, their captain, wonder if he would ever recover from getting a stick in the eye; a flu bug that felled almost the entire team, causing officials to remove bars of soap from the showers; and the drowning of Laura Gainey, daughter of general manager Bob Gainey.

Who needs All My Children when you have these two teams?


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