MacDonald sees an opportunity

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:55 AM ET

With the surname MacDonald, you'd think a Nova Scotian goaltender would want to be first aboard the flight to Scotland next week where the Toronto Marlies will play some American Hockey League exhibition games.

But goaltender Joey MacDonald wants his shot with the Maple Leafs before thinking of spending the season on the farm. MacDonald will get a bit more work than expected with Jonas Gustavsson sidelined a few days with minor heart surgery.

But MacDonald, who was the No. 1 at times with the Islanders last year, hoped that experience would help put him ahead of a healthy Gustavsson.

"It's a great opportunity, to be the No. 2 or 3 guy, whatever," said MacDonald, who was to split last night's game with Vesa Toskala. "I had a chance to come here a few years ago before I signed with the Islanders. Being from Nova Scotia, where everyone's a Leafs fan, to play for the blue and white is a tremendous opportunity.

"Working with the new goalie coach (Francois Allaire) is great. I've only been with him three days, but I can see myself (improving) in the areas we've talked about. It's going to be a great year for me."

LONDON CALLING

The Leafs finally return to London, Ont., tonight, to play an exhibition game against the Philadelphia Flyers at the John Labatt Centre.

London was scheduled to play host to the Leafs training camp in 2004. But when that news leaked out, general manager John Ferguson Jr., moved the camp to Kitchener, instead.

A high-ranking JLC official has confirmed that version of the events.

Leafs officials say the team has not played in London in at least 30 years.

A GREAT WORKER

Mary Speck, whose service to the Leafs dates back to the Harold Ballard era, is no longer with the team.

Speck, who was popular with players, executives and the media, did several jobs in the hockey office when the team played at Maple Leaf Gardens and most recently was the team's travel co-ordinator.


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