WINNIPEG - Kyle Wellwood still gets a kick out of playing in Toronto.
The same can’t be said for Nik Antropov.
The two former Maple Leafs have differing opinions going into Wednesday night’s game at Air Canada Centre, where the Winnipeg Jets forwards will be looking to help their team win its second straight game.
“It’s a lot of fun to play in Toronto, home team or away team,” said Wellwood, who was drafted by the Maple Leafs and spent three seasons with them. “It’s always something you put on your schedule and enjoy.”
Wellwood, who has played in Toronto twice since leaving, believes each market has unique fan bases, but he feels the crowds in Toronto and Winnipeg are similar.
“Each building’s got their own personality,” he said. “In Toronto, they’re like Winnipeggers when the team’s doing well. But they can be booing in the first period, cheering in the second, and booing in the third. They really enjoy the ups and downs of the game, and they show their disgust, too.”
Antropov has been back too many times to count, so the novelty of returning to ACC has worn off for the big man from Kazakhstan.
“It’s not like a big thing for me anymore,” said Antropov, who spent eight seasons in Blue and White.
“My first time out was pretty special. Now it’s just a regular road game.”
The Leafs have only three players left who were teammates with Antropov — Nikolai Kulemin, Mikhail Grabovski and Luke Schenn — while Wellwood doesn’t have any connections to the squad anymore.
“It’s quite a turnover,” said Wellwood, who last played for the Leafs in 2008.
Despite his inability to establish himself as a top-two centre, Wellwood looks back fondly on his time in T.O.
“It’s great memories,” he said. “They gave you a chance to start in the NHL and play. It’s the biggest hockey market, and there’s a lot of good times.”