Leafs prospect Biggs enjoying new digs
LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency
|Tyler Biggs has found a home with the Oshawa Generals of the OHL. (Jack Boland/QMI AGENCY)
If Tyler Biggs felt robbed not getting a chance at the locked out Maple Leafs camp or being held back from the Toronto Marlies, he’s getting even and then some in the OHL.
His Oshawa Generals have a league-best record of 6-1 heading into this week and it’s in part because the Leafs first-rounder is playing such a vital support role to early season league scoring leader Boone Jenner. The latter, a Blue Jackets’ blue-chipper, has 16 points, while Biggs is averaging one a game, with the playing time he wasn’t afforded as a freshman at Miami (Ohio) University last year.
“I think Tyler and Michael Dal Colle are the perfect complement on that line for Boone,” said Oshawa general manager Jeff Twohey. “Tyler and Michael work very well down low and they have a way of finding Boone. And when the puck is turned over, they’re all committed to defence.
“Tyler is treating this like his first pro season. He’s not a kid anymore, he’s a man. He had a great outlook after (the NHL lockout changed plans). And had we lost him to the Marlies, it’s fair to say we wouldn’t be 6-1 right now.”
Twohey says he’s connected with Biggs on another level, a mutual love of military history books.
“I started reading No Easy Day, the Navy Seals book, and saw he got it the same day,” Twohey said. “It’s great when you can discuss a topic such as that with someone his age.
“I don’t know if he’ll ever be flashy, but he has five goals now and it’s a credit to the Leafs that he’s this mature.”
Dave Poulin, the Leafs’ vice-president, director of hockey operations, is ecstatic at the direction Biggs has taken so far.
“He’s playing a complete game as we hoped,” Poulin said. “We liked it, too, that he is being challenged a few times by his coach (DJ Smith). If something happens, we’ve seen Tyler get sat him out a shift, but he responds.”
Earning their ‘A’ and ‘C’
The lockout has provided Poulin and the Leafs hockey department with a chance to review the entire junior stable. After years when the cupboard was nearly bereft of noteworthy picks, the Leafs have four selected at 35 or higher the past two years and surprising pupils such as Sudbury’s Josh Leivo, the OHL player of the week. Leivo had six goals in three games, all Wolves’ road wins.
“We’ve seen a lot of the kids, from (GM) Brian Burke down the line to myself and the scouts,” Poulin said. “If there’s one thing that has stood put for us in general, it’s the leadership role so many of them have been given.
“Stuart Percy is the captain (in Mississauga) and they made Connor Brown captain (of the Erie Otters) in just his second year, which says a lot. Matthew Finn is captain at Guelph and we have three guys wearing ‘As’ — Josh, Morgan Rielly (Moose Jaw) and David Broll (Sault Ste. Marie). Three of them are defencemen (Percy, Finn and Rielly), which is a great sign.”
Digging up the Gardens
After 12 years keeping a King Tut-type treasure trove of Maple Leaf Gardens’ artifacts in his basement, super fan Sherm Cunningham is letting go.
And this week’s online auction (www.frozenpond.com) will give the Carlton St. Cashbox one more chance to live up to its name. Cunningham, a suite holder in the building when the hockey team departed in 1999, was the most active buyer in November of 2000, paying $500,000 for more than 100 items, from the 1967 Cup banner to a toilet from the dressing room. Starting Thursday at the renamed Mattamy Athletic Centre, the souvenirs from a near-forgotten dynasty will be on display there again, with online bidding beginning as well.
“Sherm had visions of grandeur for the collection,” said Hersh Borenstein of Frozen Pond. “But he’s decided that some starving Leaf fans might have a better use for it. This time around, people won’t be bidding against Sherm.”
The largest and most expensive item is the 1967 banner, 17x6 feet, which fetched $66,000 last time. It’s not the original, of course, which Harold Ballard disposed of in the ’70s, but the one raised in 1990 after his passing is emblematic of Toronto’s last Stanley Cup. The person who lost the bidding to Cunningham in 2000 backed out in part because he figured the Leafs were on the verge of a title and the ’67 flag would decrease in value.
“It’s gone up and I’d like to think we can get $200,000 for it,” Borenstein said. “We have the retired Tim Horton and Bill Barilko banners, too. Anything to do with Barilko (who died in a 1951 plane crash after scoring the Cup winning overtime goal) has an aura and keeps going up.”
A photo collage of the 1931-32 Cup team, which won the first season the Leafs moved from Mutual St. to Carlton St., is also going to be popular. Frozen Pond has pictures on its site of the goods in their original Gardens setting.
“Then there’s the little stuff, the fun stuff,” Borenstein said. “The toilet, the door to the Leaf dressing room, the out of town scoreboard logos. We have the Cleveland Barons and Moscow Dynamo.”
To beef up the selection, there’s the Game 2 puck from the ’72 Summit Series at the Gardens that U.S. referee Steve Dowling had Paul Henderson and Vladislav Tretiak sign, as well as some Blue Jays’ World Series items. Previews are Thursday, 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., Friday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m..