Aulie large on potential

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:24 AM ET

No matter what he goes on to do with the Maple Leafs, Keith Aulie is already a hero to his father.

It was Christmas, 2005, at the family farm in Rouleau, Sask. (which doubles as Dog River in the TV series Corner Gas). Bill Aulie was on his tractor clearing snow from the deep pond so all the relatives could play shinny later that night -- on the same rink where his son Keith had learned the game. Suddenly, the ice gave way.

Bill Aulie climbed out of the submerging cab and was pulled to safety by his son, already the 6-foot-6 specimen who would attract the Flames to draft him in the third round from Brandon in 2007.

Before the accident, a hungry Keith had thought of leaving his dad to the plowing and going to the farmhouse where a big dinner was in progress. But he thought he should hang around, just in case.

"It makes you think twice about the little decisions you make in your life," Keith said back in 2008. "It made me appreciate doing the little things I do for my dad on the farm."

Aulie was in his rookie year for the Abbotsford Heat of the AHL when Sunday's trade was made with the Leafs.

Aulie was Tyler Myers' partner at the world juniors in 2009 when Canada won gold.

Not a gifted scorer, he had 80-plus penalty minutes in each of his last three years of junior with Brandon, just what Brian Burke is looking for.

But while the Leafs would dearly love to develop a defenceman as tall and as rugged as Myers, they will let Aulie play down the street with the Marlies for now.


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