Gretzky a Schenn fan

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:29 AM ET

Add Phoenix Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky to those in admiration of rookie Leafs defenceman, Luke Schenn.

Gretzky said the Saskatoon native has made a seamless transition to the NHL and has been impressed by the 19-year-old's play and heavy workload.

"He's a really mature young man," Gretzky said yesterday. "He plays the game hard and he plays the game properly. He doesn't cheat the game.

"If you can skate at an NHL level, even though you are younger and don't have the experience, it can overcome a lot of things. His first strides are strong and more importantly, he makes a great outlet pass. He's playing like a seasoned player and good for him."

Leafs coach Ron Wilson continues to rave about rookie Schenn as well to the point where it is almost being used as a motivational tool when some of his veteran players get sluggish.

"It shouldn't be that a 19-year-old defenceman is your best guy," Wilson said of Tuesday's loss to the Sharks. "We've got to get better performances from a lot people. I know how good he is, that's why he's getting all the minutes."

Wilson was particularly impressed with the way Schenn continues to grow physically.

"He's playing physical. He threw down (physical Sharks forward) Ryan Clowe. Not many guys can do that.

"He got in people's faces. He's one of those guys. The kid's still growing. Wait until you see him in a couple of years."

FAMILIAR FACE

Not that many of his ex-teammates are still around, but the Leafs will see a familiar face in the Coyotes net tonight. Gretzky said that goalie Mikael Tellqvist will get his fourth start in the past five games.

"Since we got Mikael, he's really been playing well," Gretzky said. "The players like playing in front of him and he's feeling confident and seeing the puck.

"Right now, he's playing solid and he deserves to play. He'll be back in (tonight) and we'll go from there."

The Swedish goaltender was a third-round pick of the Leafs in the 2000 draft but never was able to establish himself as the Leafs starter.

TALKING AVERY

Gretzky just shook his head with disgust when the subject of Dallas Stars mouthpiece Sean Avery was raised yesterday.

"The league is going to handle that," Gretzky said.

Coyotes captain Shane Doan basically said it's a waste of time to talk about Avery.

"We've got such great guys in our sport," Doan said. "To talk about them is probably more important than to talk about that guy."


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