Tellqvist on the rise

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:03 AM ET

The upside of being moved from Toronto to Phoenix for Mikael Tellqvist is that his golf handicap has been reduced to a very tidy five.

As for the business reason behind the move, the goaltender who never could quite seize the top job with the Maple Leafs is playing some of the best hockey of his career.

As a result, Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky gave the former Leafs draft pick the start for the fifth time in the past six games last night as he makes his move to seize the number one job from Ilya Bryzgalov.

"It turned out great for me," Tellqvist said yesterday. "I got a chance to play a lot more than I did in Toronto. The people were great there, great fans. I even loved playing in St. John's. But this turned into a good opportunity for me."

Prior to last night, Tellqvist had posted a 3-1-1 record in his recent starting opportunity with a goals against average of 2.03.

"It was a combination of a lot of things, I think," Tellqvist said when asked why things didn't work out in Toronto. "I can't put my finger on it really."

Originally drafted by the Leafs in 2000 (third round, 70th overall), he was traded to Phoenix two years ago for Tyson Nash and a third-round choice in the 2007 draft.

BUILDING A WINNER

Gretzky knows about the challenge of rebuilding, especially considering his Coyotes have been in that mode for the better part of three seasons.

So the Great One also can relate to the challenge that awaits new Leafs president Brian Burke and coach Ron Wilson.

"I'll let Mr. Burke worry about his own team, but I always tell people to look at the success of the Ottawas, the Pittsburghs and the Washingtons," Gretzky said. "They had to go down to the bottom before they start coming back up.

"You get players like (Alexander) Ovechkin and (Sidney) Crosby and (Evgeni) Malkin because you are not a good team. It's pretty simple. Toronto didn't have a great year last year and they were rewarded with a player like Luke Schenn. That's how you build franchises. We're not all so lucky that we get a Crosby, but that's how you build a team."

SOUNDS GREAT

Schenn was tickled that Gretzky raved about his play thus far in his NHL career.

"I met him once before the draft and that was really cool," Schenn said. "That's really cool that he would say those things about me. I don't know if you can get a compliment from anyone better in the hockey world than Wayne Gretzky so that's unbelievable."


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