Poulin pullin' on jersey again

Leafs v-p of hockey operations, Dave Poulin (left) once had the daunting task of replacing the...

Leafs v-p of hockey operations, Dave Poulin (left) once had the daunting task of replacing the great Bobby Clarke as captain of the Philadelphia Flyers. (QMI Agency)

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:04 PM ET

Dave Poulin seems to be too nice of a guy to be considered a bully.

But, come this weekend, he once again will be occupying a role as a member of the Broad Street Bullies.

While the Leafs left Carolina after their game against the Hurricanes on Thursday night en route to Winnipeg for their New Year’s Eve clash against the Jets, Poulin, the Leafs’ vice-president of hockey operations, was scheduled to head to Philly on Friday. Once there, he is slated to play in the alumni game at Citizens Bank Park on Saturday, where former Flyers will face off against now-retired members of the New York Rangers.

“I played with Bobby Clarke and Bill Barber when I was with the Flyers but never with guys like Reggie Leach and Bernie Parent,” Poulin said during the first intermission of the Hurricanes-Leafs contest on Thursday night. “Bernie’s going to be strapping on the pads again so that will be great.

“It should be a lot of fun. The best part will just be seeing all the guys again.”

Of course, whenever the likes of Clarke tug on that orange-and-black Flyers jersey again, rabid fans there will likely be calling for the retired members of the Broad Street Bullies to start chuckin’ their knuckles again, no matter how much their bouts of arthritis might be affecting them.

But Poulin believes the game, while competitive, won’t digress into that.

“I talked to Rick Tocchet who played last year in Pittsbugh as part of the Winter Classic alumni game for the former Penguins and he said it was really fun,” Poulin said.

The game will be broadcast at 1 p.m. Saturday on CBC.

CANADIAN CLUB

Carolina Hurricanes captain Eric Staal never played in a world junior hockey championship.

Having said that, the native of Thunder Bay admits he is watching Team Canada play in this year’s tournament whenever he can.

“I’ve got the Canadian dish at my house down here so I can watch,” Staal said. “It’s on so you tune in.”

Of course, he’s not monitoring it shift by shift like some other NHLers are. And with good reason. Back in his junior days, Staal was cut during the time he attempted to make the team.

“I probably don’t follow it as close as if I’d made the team,” Staal said. “But it’s Team Canada and you always watch.

“It’s a cool tournament. There are a lot of future NHL players in it. And it’s always a spectacle when it’s in Canada.

“It’s fun to watch.”

DID YOU KNOW?

The most recent time the Maple Leafs stepped onto the ice in Winnipeg for an NHL game prior to this Saturday was on Feb. 28, 1996. For the record, they lost that game 4-3.

LEAFS’ BAD PK BAFFLES BRENT

A year ago, Tim Brent arguably was the best penalty-killer on a bad Maple Leafs unit.

Now, with the gritty forward having joined the Carolina Hurricanes over the summer, the Leafs’ PK has dropped from 27th last season to 30th in 2011-12.

Asked for his take on why Toronto has struggled so much while shorthanded the past few seasons, Brent offered his take.

“Obviously the PK is four against five, so it’s not the easiest thing in the world to do,” Brent said on Thursday. “For me, at least, it all comes down to confidence.”

Or, in the case of the Leafs, a lack of it.

“When you go into a bit of a skid, it’s hard to get your confidence back,” he said. “If you are doing the right things out there and they still score, you start to second-guess yourself.

“I’m not sure what’s going on over there.”

SPACEK INTERPRETS HABS MESS

Former Hab Jaroslav Spacek was traded out of the Montreal asylum before the, ah, poutine hit the fan.

Having been traded for former Maple Leaf Tomas Kaberle, the veteran defenceman has a potential solution to the coaching/language controversy in Montreal right now, where there is outrage that interim coach Randy Cunneyworth does not speak French.

Cunneyworth was elevated from his assistant coaching job into that position when Jacques Martin was fired on Dec. 17, igniting a firestorm among francophones who were upset that the replacement was not bilingual.

“I can understand the rule that (the Canadiens should) have the guy speak both languages because of the province and all that stuff,” Spacek, now with the Carolina Hurricanes, said on Thursday. “But if they want to go out and hire an interpreter, then they can hire a really good coach.”

An interpreter? Not a bad idea.

We’re just not sure that it’s one that will fly among the fine loyal fans of la belle province.


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