If the Maple Leafs are ever in need of a good faceoff man, they should look no further than their own coach, Ron Wilson. Wilson was schooling a couple of his players on the art of the draw during Saturday morning's pre-game skate, including forward Luca Caputi who was getting beaten pretty handily.
"I just go in to have a few laughs with a guy like Luca," Wilson said. "Luca comes in and thinks he's (pretty good). But, Luca, if a 55-year-old guy can beat you on the faceoff, you've got a lot of work to do."
Hockey, like life, isn't always fair. Leafs general manager Brian Burke said as much when centre Christian Hanson was sent down to the Marlies to start the season. But as with life, things change, and Hanson had his first taste of NHL action this season Saturday night against the New York Rangers. The 24-year-old said he has tried to keep things in perspective and to keep improving while with the AHL club.
"I'm just going to try to continue to play the same style I did in the pre-season (with the Leafs) and carry over the things that I was working on with the Marlies," the 6-foot-4, 225-pounder said. "(The Leafs) want me to play a little more tenacious, a little more of a physical role. I'm taking faceoffs, playing centre now, and I've got to bear down and win 50% to 55% of those."
THE POLISH PRINCE
There was a Stanley Cup winner in the Leafs dressing room on Saturday morning, and no, we're not talking about forward Kris Versteeg. Pete Stemkowski, who won a Cup with Toronto in 1967 and played a total of 15 seasons in the NHL, seven with the Rangers, was on hand and taking some shots from coach Wilson.
"He's still alive," Wilson joked when it was noted that the Polish Prince, as Stemkowski was known during his playing days, was present for the coach's news conference. "Absolutely ... Good living," retorted the 67-year-old Stemkowski, which brought a big laugh from the entire room, including Wilson.
"I think Pete looks just like he did back in '67, and he might be faster now," Wilson shot back.
Stemkowski finished his career with 206 goals and 555 points in 967 games.
LIGHTS, CAMERA, 3D
Hi-tech lovers should mark Dec. 11 on their calendars. That's when CBC will be broadcasting its first Hockey Night In Canada in 3D. HNIC cameraman Mark Punga was in the dressing room testing out some equipment that will be used for the Leafs-Canadiens groundbreaking broadcast.
"You have to pace yourself in order not to make the audience nauseous. You have to slow down your pans," Punga said of the new technology.
"You have to set the depth of convergence so that you don't have hockey players floating out of the screen at you."
And we wouldn't want that, would we?
COOL IN PINK
Coach Wilson thinks it's pretty neat that Leafs bruising forward Colton Orr has sported pink skates during the last few practices to help support the fight against breast cancer. Orr had them on again for the Saturday morning skate.
"You watch the NFL and the whole month everybody's wearing pink, and it's pretty cool that he's managed to do that," Wilson said.
"The skates weren't made pink they're spray painted by a graphic artist and I think they look pretty good."