Rookie Grabovski Habby to be with Leafs

STEVE BUFFERY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:43 AM ET

As the media gathered inside the Toronto Maple Leafs dressing room yesterday following the morning skate, rookie centre Mikhail Grabovski nonchalantly wandered over to the stereo system, played with some dials for a second or two and then quietly retreated into the back room.

A moment later, the room shook with a piercing, thunderous roar.

No one was sure what it was, perhaps a recording of an airplane just before take off or an extremely loud Belorussian metal band.

In any event, the explosion sent a few of Grabovski's teammates, including Nik Antropov and Jason Blake, running back into the dressing room to see what had happened.

When told it was Grabovski's doing, Antropov and Blake shook their heads and smiled.

Despite the fact his English is, how you say, "inelegant", Grabovski has already established himself as a bit of a team card.

The kid is obviously having a good time in Toronto and that has certainly reflected in his play of late, having recorded five goals in his last three games, playing between Niklas Hagman and Nikolai Kulemin. Despite a slow start to the season, recording zero points in the first seven games, Grabovski, 24, is now tied for first among NHL rookies with six goals and is tied for fourth in overall rookie scoring with eight points.

If he continues to click on the Leafs' second line, there's every reason to believe he can challenge for the Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year.

The last time a Maple Leafs player won the Calder, the guy the Toronto airport is named after was Prime Minister.

But the smile on Grabovski's face yesterday quickly disappeared when someone asked if he still had a lot of "good friends" inside the Montreal Canadiens dressing room.

"No," Grabovski snapped. "No friends."

Surely, Grabovski was pressed, he must have friends on the team he spent 24 games with last year. But the East German-born, Belarus-raised centre was adamant that, no, that wasn't the case.

"I don't need friends on that team," he fumed. "Toronto, I have lot of good guys. In Montreal, I don't have."

Yep, Grabovski is not a big fan of the Montreal organization these days.

Despite his excellent skating ability and offensive talent and relatively young age, the Habs traded the centre last July to the Leafs for a second-round pick and Greg Pateryn.

"It's never a personal thing," said Habs coach Guy Carbonneau of the decision to trade Grabovski. "Sometimes, a piece on the puzzle doesn't fit."


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