Schenn no fan of 'Dome stars now

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:48 AM ET

Luke Schenn thinks he can remember his first NHL game at the Saddledome.

His best guess is he was 10 and the Flames were up against the Ottawa Senators.

"I remember it was pretty cool," said the rookie Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman, who hails from Saskatoon.

"I remember watching guys like Daniel Alfredsson, he was even playing back then. And Scott Niedermayer, Martin Brodeur and Jarome Iginla when Calgary played New Jersey.

"It's pretty cool to be playing against those guys today."

Tonight, he will try to shut down Iginla when the Maple Leafs meet the Flames in the opener of Schenn's first Western Canada trip.

He's excited, and so are a load of people who plan to see the fifth-overall selection from this year's draft strut his stuff.

"There are probably 25, 30 people that want to come down, but I think I'll be lucky if I get 10 or 15 (tickets)," said the 19-year-old.

"I'll let my parents take care of it. I'll get as many as I can and they'll have to sort it out."

Those ducats could be worth nabbing, because it's a good bet you'll see plenty of the 6-foot-2, 216-lb. rearguard. Schenn is already averaging 21 minutes and 30 seconds of ice time per game, and with Mike Van Ryn out a month, he'll likely see even more when Toronto tours through Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver.

Still, he doesn't appear remotely overwhelmed. Then again, it's proof why the strapping teen was able to make the jump from the WHL's Kelowna Rockets. After his welcome-to-the-NHL moment, he's learned to not become overwhelmed.

"My first NHL game was in Detroit when they were raising the Stanley Cup banner. That felt pretty surreal," he said.

"Last year (prior to the draft), I flew down to Game 2 of the Stanley Cup final, Detroit versus Pittsburgh, and got to see (Sidney) Crosby and (Evgeni) Malkin and (Nicklas) Lidstrom and (Pavel) Datsyuk, all those guys.

"Within my first (few) games, I played all of those guys and I played them in exhibition, too. It's pretty cool that you're watching them, what seemed like a few months ago, and now you're playing against them."

Schenn has made an instant name for himself with his hard checks, strong defensive play and willingness to battle.

He may have only two assists, but plenty of notoriety for being a rising star among defensive defencemen.

One conversation with him and you can't help but believe Schenn is having fun with it all. Hey, it takes a bit of personality to sing Happy Birthday in front of a few hundred people, including the ownership and brass of both the Maple Leafs and the NBA's Raptors, as well as the players and their spouses.

It was Andrea Bargnani's birthday when a party was held and Chris Bosh requested the Leafs rookies lead the chorus. That meant Schenn and John Mitchell were called to the fore, with Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin adding support.

"Pretty nervous," Schenn recalled of his state. "Everyone was laughing the whole time, so I don't know how many heard me. I was probably pretty off-key, but it was fun."


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