They were the Leafs' version of the Backstreet Boys.
Matt Stajan, Alex Steen and Carlo Colaiacovo grew up as NHLers and as young men in Toronto, but Stajan still was getting over the shock yesterday of the other two getting traded to St. Louis for Lee Stempniak.
"Five or six years I've been with Carlo and maybe four with Steener," Stajan said. "Where does the time go? You take it for granted. One afternoon, a phone call comes and they're gone. But you look back at the good times and turn the page."
Stajan thinks Colaiacovo will get the most from the trade.
"Maybe to get out of the media spotlight here will be good for Carlo. It was pretty harsh on him at times with the bad luck of injuries he has had. He's going to a place where he knows guys (he and Blues' Brad Boyes were junior teammates with the OHL Erie Otters). It's a change and life is all about change."
CLOSE SHAVE FOR ANDERSON
Leafs coach Ron Wilson played part of the 1977-78 season as a right winger on Toronto's farm team, the Dallas Blackhawks. His linemates were John Anderson, the new coach of the Atlanta Thrashers and Bruce Boudreau, who won the Jack Adams Trophy with the Washington Capitals last season.
"Freaky," is how Wilson described the coincidence, though he took delight in recalling the Leafs' rookie hazing ritual, when Anderson's long blond hair and moustache were targeted by the Toronto veterans and their clippers.
"They would be singing the Gilette song and John would be hiding," Wilson laughed. "He slept in the lobby of the hotel once, he was so scared. Then Roger Neilson and Jim Gregory ordered there would be no more hazing if it was going to (bother rookies). John thought he was safe, but they got him after the very next practice."
Stempniak took No. 12, most recently worn by fellow American Tom Fitzgerald in 2004 ... The Leafs and Danone are staging an open practice on Dec. 6, in hopes of raising $50,000 for the Leafs Fund for Kids. General admission seats are $6.50, and are available through Ticketmaster.