January 14, 2011
All together now for Leafs
By LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency
TORONTO - The catalyst for the best road trip in the Ron Wilson era wasn’t bonding on the beach in L.A. or a few cases of Cactus Cola in the desert.
Mike Komisarek says the success of the 3-1 trip — and the overall picture of 5-2 — came on a snowbound bus in the Jersey Meadowlands around Boxing Day. Coming off a 5-1 win over the Devils, a rogue blizzard turned what should have been a short hop home into three days as a captive audience.
“We were all trapped on the bus for about five or six hours and the next day, stuck on the plane another five or six,” Komisarek recalled. “Dealing with that, being stuck with 20-something people. At first you think you know a guy well. Then they started getting grumpy. Then they all started busting each others chops, making fun of one another. That makes the time pass by a little better.”
The team that had little chemistry now had a common war story. The Leafs built upon that the past week.
“Instead of three or four guys out to dinner, there was 95% of the team going out. We all went to an Italian place one night and there’s nothing better than eating a ton of food and having a few laughs.”
Tall tales frmo Sean
The Phoenix Coyotes might have had the perfect tonic to deal with goaltender James Reimer on Thursday. They had 6-foot‑4 goalie coach Sean Burke breaking down what little NHL video there was of the young goalie, who was demoted to the Marlies on Friday. Burke played a similar style to Reimer’s.
“Sean’s always reminding us that big goalies just take up more of the net,” Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. “But we’re not sure if he’s telling us that just to pump his own tires.”
6,000 vs. 600
Earlier this week, the fuss was about Wilson’s 600th NHL win. On Saturday, the Leafs will observe their 6,000th game in franchise history.
On Dec. 19, 1917, the Toronto Arenas travelled to Montreal to face the Wanderers in the first game, losing 10-9. Dave Ritchie, later to play for the Arenas, scored the first goal against Toronto to open the game, while Collingwood-born Reg Noble had the first goal for the franchise.
Toronto’s combined 5,999‑game record as the Arenas, St. Patricks and Maple Leafs is 2,617 wins, 2,520 losses, 783 ties and 79 overtime losses.
Though some fans were chanting for his head a few weeks ago, Wilson is bound to get some applause Saturday when the Leafs give him brief scoreboard recognition for winning 600, a feat only seven coaches in the history of the NHL have made ... Tonight’s game marks the return of hometown boy Matt Stajan, who spent 445 games here with 223 points. He and fellow forward Niklas Hagman are the two remaining ex-Leafs from the Dion Phaneuf deal. Hagman had a goal and two assists when the Flames beat the Leafs 5-2 in Calgary on Dec. 16 ... The Leafs’ loss Thursday was Toronto’s first this season against a Pacific Division team (3-1-0).