TORONTO - The Leafs cut four players and re-directed them to the AHL Marlies on Wednesday, forwards Darryl Boyce, Joey Crabb, Alex Foster and Ryan Hamilton. All four had to clear NHL waivers.
They had only seen sporadic ice time during the Leafs six exhibition games to date. That leaves 30 players in camp, three goalies, 10 defencemen and 17 forwards. But goalie James Reimer is only around for insurance purposes and two defencemen are hurt, Matt Lashoff and Brett Lebda.
The Leafs have to get down to 23 players before opening night and more important, get under the salary cap, as they currently sit about $274,000 US in excess. Defenceman Jeff Finger remains the most likely candidate for demotion, with a $3.5 million ticket.
Little big men
For a team that wants to pride itself on being big and tough, the Leafs’ first line of Kris Versteeg, Tyler Bozak and Phil Kessel won’t frighten many people when they’re in street clothes. Bozak is 6-1, Kessel 5-11, Versteeg 5-10. But don’t be fooled by first impressions, says Versteeg.
“As long as you get gritty, get in there and you’re not scared ... I don’t see anyone on our line scared to muck it up,” he said.
“No matter how big the other line is, as long as we’re controlling the puck.
“We know we have tough guys on the bench to back us up if it ever comes to that.”
Hal of a gesture
When concrete was poured for a new floor for Maple Leaf Gardens in 1983, owner Harold Ballard put his handprints in the mix, assisted by his sidekick King Clancy. On Tuesday, the slab with the date and Ballard’s initials will be donated to the Hockey Hall of Fame by sons Bill Ballard and Terry Clancy.
When Dundas, Ont., won the right to host the Kraft Hockeyville game, the first team they asked for was the Leafs. But Wednesday night’s date at the little arena couldn’t be worked into the Leafs’ busy pre-season schedule, which included five games in five nights and a free game at the ACC. So Ottawa was recruited to play the Buffalo Sabres ... Ex-Leaf watch: Jason Blake and Alexei Ponikarovsky both had two points in their first two games for Anaheim and Los Angeles, respectively, while Alex Steen had three goals in two starts for the Blues.