Deveaux offers thanks

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:03 AM ET

He may have been born in the Bahamas, but Andre Deveaux spent his formative years bleeding Maple Leafs blue.

The 24-year-old forward is expected to be in the lineup for the second game of his NHL career tonight at the Air Canada Centre when the Leafs play host to the Philadelphia Flyers.

And he is hoping his stepfather, Paul Taylor, the man who instilled his passion for hockey and all things Leafs, will be in attendance.

"He was a huge Leafs fan since he was a kid," Deveaux said of the Welland lawyer. "When he first took me to a (Leafs) game, he bought me a (Doug) Gilmour jersey and I've been a Leafs fan ever since.

"He was the one who drove me all over Ontario to play. I'll be forever grateful to both my parents for the sacrifices they made for me to play hockey."

Deveaux was, for the most part, off the radar when the season began. But six goals with the AHL Marlies, including a hat trick on Oct. 26, combined with his rugged style, caught management's attention.

GOOD TIMING

From one point of view, Deveaux's first crack at the NHL, six years after being drafted by the Canadiens, couldn't have come at a more opportune time.

With new general manager Brian Burke known to favour size, the 6-foot-3, 220-pound forward certainly fits the bill.

"I don't really concentrate on any of that stuff," said Deveaux, who saw 11 minutes and 34 seconds of ice time Thursday night in Ottawa. "I hope the management likes me and keeps me around. That being said, I'm just going to keep doing what I do and control what I can control."

With Jason Blake still on the mend from the mild concussion he suffered on Tuesday, Deveaux is likely to accompany the Leafs on next week's three-game road swing to L.A., San Jose and Phoenix.

Despite helping the Chicago Wolves to an AHL title last year, the parent Atlanta Thrashers weren't interested.

"If Atlanta would have offered me a contract, I probably would have signed there," Deveaux said. "But I'm glad the way it worked out.

"The team I grew up watching wanted me. It was a no- brainer."


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