Gilroy intrigued by Toronto

MIKE ZEISBERGER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:57 AM ET

BOSTON -- Sitting in the upper balcony of the TD Bank- north Garden last night, Matt Gilroy was awestruck as he watched the crowd go bonkers when the hometown Boston Bruins took to the ice.

"Wow," he said, taking in the wild scene going on beneath him.

By next season, Gilroy himself is slated to get his own taste of the NHL experience. And, he reiterated last night, it could be with the Maple Leafs.

Gilroy, the highly coveted free-agent defenceman out of Boston University, has not yet made up his mind which NHL team he is going to choose to play for. That decision, he said, hopefully will come by the weekend.

In the meantime, he can only shake his head at how much of a celebrity he has become in Toronto, where fans and media alike have almost made him a household name the past several weeks.

"It's been crazy," Gilroy, 25, said. "The press I've been getting up there has been unbelievable."

Although he has never been to Toronto, Gilroy is well aware of how much of a "hockey-crazed market" it is. And he is looking for a team with which he can step into the lineup immediately, which, hypothetically, makes the Leafs a good fit.

"Getting the chance to play right away is very important," Gilroy said. "I want to get in there as quick as I can. It shows that a team really believes in you.

"I'm taking my time to make up my mind. I don't want to make my decision based on just pure emotion."

Gilroy is familiar with the Leafs hierarchy, including general manager Brian Burke, assistant Dave Nonis and jack-of-all-trades Joe Nieuwendyk.

"I've talked to all three," Gilroy said. "The funny thing is, those guys already were talking to me back when they were all with different teams. Burkie was with Anaheim, Dave Nonis was in Vancouver and Joe Nieuwendyk was with Florida.

"Now they are all with the Leafs."

With the Bruins and Montreal Canadiens locking horns in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal, Gilroy was in attendance with his BU Terriers teammates and coaches. During a break in the action midway through the first period, the team was shown on the centre ice video screen and received a standing ovation for winning the NCAA Division 1 championship last weekend in Washington.

Burke, meanwhile, told Sun Media's Steve Buffery yesterday that there had been no recent communication between Gilroy's handlers and the Leafs.

"We haven't heard a thing," Burke said. "Dave Nonis, our contract negotiator, has not talked to (Gilroy's adviser) Kent Hughes in the last 24 to 48 hours.

"We're in the dark."


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