Leafs stick indoors

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:59 AM ET

With sunny skies, temperatures at -12C and little wind, yesterday's conditions would have been good for a Winter Classic game in Toronto, which tentatively was planned for either New Year's Day 2008 or '09. The league gave the green light, but neither game went beyond the talking stage.

In 2007, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. looked at BMO Field and Rogers Centre, but nixed the plan because of projected high costs, plus the X factors of weather and the how the Rogers Centre's retractable roof would behave in winter.

Most Leafs liked the idea.

"We had outside practices last year that were a lot of fun for the kids, the charities and the community," Pavel Kubina said. "I played outdoors until I was 14 or 15 and at that time (in the volatile Czech Republic) I was lucky to play anywhere.

"I watched the first period (last year in Buffalo). It's a great idea, but it depends on what this organization wants to do. It's not easy to decide."

Waving the white flag

Coach Ron Wilson had joked about taking yesterday off if Team USA was thrashed by Team Canada at the world junior championship, but the Canadian-born American resident didn't think the result Wednesday night was a clean win.

"At least the U.S. didn't cheat to try and score," Wilson said of Canada's Brett Sonne being let out of the penalty box a few seconds early on a timer's error during which the home team scored. "How much did they pay that guy? Come on."

On the plus side for Wilson, Leafs prospect Chris DiDomenico continues to impress.

"I only watched part of the game, but he looked pretty good," Wilson said. "Obviously he's playing on a good line (with John Tavares) and Pat Quinn has some faith in him. He was playing in some key situations."

Hold the champagne

It was a very different kind of New Year's Eve for rookie Nikolai Kulemin, his first in North America.

"In Russia, we usually have this time off from hockey," Kulemin said through interpreter Alexei Ponikarovsky. "I'd go out with a bunch of friends and celebrate at a nightclub or something. This year, I just had a little dinner with my wife and her (visiting) parents."


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