Hanson's no goon

ROB LONGLEY

, Last Updated: 2:49 AM ET

Free agent signee Christian Hanson participated in the morning skate yesterday at the Air Canada Centre but won't see action until tomorrow's return match against the Flyers in Philadelphia.

The 6-foot-4 son of Dave Hanson, who gained fame from the legendary hockey movie Slap Shot, will get a chance for a full practice with the team today. Though he played centre during his four-year NCAA career at Notre Dame, he has been pegged as a winger for the Leafs.

"This kid hasn't skated in three days and I want to give him a chance with practise with a line (today)," Leafs coach Ron Wilson said.

A Pennsylvania native, Hanson is looking forward to making his NHL debut against the Flyers.

"I grew up a Pittsburgh fan, so there was always that intra-state rivalry between the Flyers and the Pens," Hanson said.

Leafs general manager Brian Burke said fans should expect a tough and talented forward but not a goon like the character made famous by his father.

"He wouldn't have had 20 teams wanting to sign him if he was a meathead," Burke said. "We're signing him as a top-six winger. He's a skill player."

Meanwhile, Burke said the team hopes to sign more college free agents, most notably well regarded forward Tyler Bozak from the University of Denver.

Protecting Pogge

The general manager jumped to the defence of struggling rookie goaltender Justin Pogge, who was pulled after surrendering six goals against Boston this past Saturday.

"Let's be fair about the other night before we throw this kid under the bus," Burke said. "We weren't very good (in front of him). I don't think he has taken advantage of his opportunity, but ... to me, it's not yet time to write the epitaph for Justin Pogge."

It isn't over

Just because the team was eliminated from the playoffs doesn't mean Wilson will lower expectations for the remaining five games.

"I'd be an idiot to say this was not an inevitability," Wilson said of the team failing to qualify for the post-season. "But I'm not going to change my approach. Every game I use as an opportunity to make players better. Everybody has to try to improve every time they are on the ice."


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