Maple Leafs general manager Cliff Fletcher might have been exaggerating in September when he said the club had only one top-six forward, Nik Antropov.
Including Antropov, the Leafs have no forwards on the ballot for the NHL all-star game in Montreal on Jan. 25. Just two Leafs -- goalie Vesa Toskala and defenceman Tomas Kaberle -- are on the ballot for the Eastern Conference side. The Florida Panthers are the only other team in the conference without representation among the group of 30 forwards.
Voting begins on Nov. 12. The Canadiens and Detroit Red Wings lead the NHL, as both teams have six players on the ballot.
NO WINGS HERE
Give John Mitchell full marks for being honest.
"We don't have a Red Wings team or anything like that, but we have the type of players that we need to drive to the net hard and get those ugly goals," the Maple Leafs rookie said yesterday morning when discussing the team's recent scoring bonanza.
"We're not going to score pretty goals every single night, but I'm not shy to say things are going to go well for this team offensively."
One Leaf who had not been part of the binge was fourth-year centre Alex Steen. He has not scored less than 15 goals in any of his previous three seasons but had just one in 12 games before last night.
"The last guy I am worried about offence from is Alex," coach Ron Wilson said. "As long as he keeps competing and killing penalties the way he has, I am happy.
"Alex is not on a line that we expect to score. But over time, he will score."
GO HURT YOURSELF
Not surprisingly, Wilson sees no problem with the fact that teams no longer have to publicly disclose their players' injuries.
"This isn't football," Wilson said. "You know why they publish injuries --Las Vegas. It's all about betting and hockey is not that kind of sport.
Guys are warriors, and I don't think their injuries should be discussed the way everyone wants."
"We're not going to score pretty goals every single night ... but things are going to go well."
Leafs rookie John Mitchell on the club's gritty nature