Noteworthy night for Leafs

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:23 AM ET

The Maple Leafs marked the 10th anniversary of the Air Canada Centre last night by having opening night overtime scoring hero Steve Thomas drop the puck.

But it's also a noteworthy weekend for Gardens-era players as well. The Leafs' visit to New York tonight coincides with a sweater retirement ceremony for ex-Leaf Andy Bathgate and Norris Trophy winner Harry Howell.

It's 45 years to the day Bathgate was traded to the Leafs from the Rangers with Don McKenney and five Leafs including Dick Duff and Bob Nevin going the other way. Bathgate would contribute to the Leafs' third consecutive Cup a few months later, the only one he would win.

Howell was the last man to win the Norris Trophy before Bobby Orr made it his personal award.

Last night also marked 35 years since Leafs great Tim Horton was killed in a car accident on his way home to Buffalo while a member of the Sabres.

DOUBLE, DOUBLE

The Leafs will play on back-to-back nights for the eighth time this season when they hit the Big Apple to face the New York Rangers.

So far, the Leafs are 1-5-1 in the second half of such doubleheaders. Their only win came in a shootout back on Oct. 29 when they beat the New Jersey Devils 6-5.

MUSICAL QUESTION

In his pre-game solo, long-time Maple Leafs organist Jimmy Holstrom set the mood with his version of The Clash classic Should I Stay Or Should I Go? in obvious reference to the man of the evening, Mats Sundin.

LOOSE LEAFS

Asked about the headlines the Kostitsyn brothers are making in Montreal for consorting with unsavoury types, sworn enemy Mikhail Grabovski said: "No comment. I don't care." ... Coach Ron Wilson's roving player scratch system fingered Nikolai Kulemin last night, with ex-Canuck Brad May coming back in the lineup ... Wilson has targeted next weekend for defenceman Mike Van Ryn to return from a leg injury.


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