Deveaux to make NHL debut

TERRY KOSHAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 2:13 PM ET

OTTAWA -- Andre Deveaux barely had time to sit down when the swarm of media descended on him.

"Holy (bleep)," Deveaux, the newest Maple Leaf, said.

Called up from the Toronto Marlies late yesterday afternoon, the 6-foot-4, 220-pound Deveaux will make his National Hockey League debut tonight when the Leafs take on the Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Place. Deveaux will replace Jason Blake, who is suffering from headaches and a stiff neck after he was steamrolled by the Atlanta Thrashers' Colby Armstrong on Tuesday night.

Deveaux had six goals for the Marlies and leads the Leafs" American Hockey League affiliate with 54 penalty minutes in 13 games.

"I fight and stuff like that, but I don't consider myself a huge heavyweight," Deveaux said after the morning skate today. "I'm willing to go with almost anybody. But that is only one aspect of my game. Hopefully the nerves settle down a bit and I can go out there and make a difference.”

The Leafs have won just two of their past 10 games and it's almost a certainty that tonight marks their final game before Brian Burke is named general manager. The expectation is Burke will be named GM on Saturday before the game against the Philadelphia Flyers, though it might not happen until Monday.

Deveaux, who was born in the Bahamas and moved to Welland, Ont., when he was three years old, will wear No. 56 and is slated to play the wing on a line with Jamal Mayers and Ryan Hollweg.

"We need a bit more of a physical presence and we hope he brings that," Leafs coach Ron Wilson said.

If Deveaux drops the gloves, he won't have to worry about the Senators' Chris Neil, who is recovering from knee surgery. Jarkko Ruutu, who makes a living getting under the skin of opponents, might not be a bad bet.

Deveaux was in his fifth season in the AHL, and originally was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens with the 182nd pick in the 2002 NHL entry draft. The Leafs signed him as a free agent this past July.

Deveaux goes back a long way with Leafs forward Matt Stajan, as the two broke into the Ontario Hockey League with the Belleville Bulls in the 2000-01 season. Deveaux later played for the Owen Sound Attack.

"We have been pretty good buddies right through, and I am happy for him," Stajan said. "Any time any one plays their first game, you try to settle them down. But you just tell them to play the game you have been plying your whole life. He is a hard worker.

"It's amazing how things work out and how you run into a good friend at this level."


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