Toronto made bold moves at the trade deadline, but the
celebratory mood was cut short by injuries
The Maple Leafs reached an emotional high on March 11, when
general manager and coach Pat Quinn snapped up Toronto icon Doug
Gilmour, 39, from the Canadiens and puck-moving defenseman Phil
Housley, 39, from the Blackhawks to give him four new
postseason-savvy players before the trading deadline. Having
acquired top power forward Owen Nolan, 31, from the Sharks and
former All-Star defenseman Glen Wesley, 34, from the Hurricanes
earlier in the week, Quinn injected the Leafs, who were 3826-5-1
and fifth in the Eastern Conference, with an abundance of talent,
grit and leadership. Toronto figured it could spend the stretch
run building chemistry, tinkering with line combos and priming
for a serious run at its first Stanley Cup in 36 years.
Two days later the Leafs' collective psyche took a plunge. Last
Thursday, Gilmour, who starred for Toronto from '91--92 through
'96--97, sustained a left knee injury in his first game back.
He'll be out for four to six weeks. In the previous match,
against the Oilers on March 10, left wing Gary Roberts pulled a
groin muscle and is listed as day-to-day.
Upon his arrival Gilmour had instantly become the team's
inspiration, and his loss was devastating. "We were full of
emotion [after the trade]," Quinn said. "Two days later we're as
down as we were up the other day."
The play of Nolan, however, provided a boost. After a sluggish
season he appears energized by his escape from the disappointing
Sharks, who fell out of the playoff race early. His power-play
game-winner in a 1--0 victory over the Canucks last Saturday was
his third goal, to go with two assists, in four games since the
trade. "There's a different attitude here than in San Jose,"
Nolan says. "It was hard to get up for games there. We have the
attitude that we'll win every game here."
Penguins' Frozen Equipment
Warming Up Before the Game
When mechanical difficulties forced the cancellation of the
Penguins' late-night flight from Pittsburgh to Ottawa on March 8,
the team left its equipment on the plane for the evening.
However, with temperatures in the low 20s, equipment manager
Steve Latin returned the next morning for the rescheduled takeoff
to find the sweat-soaked equipment stiff. "All our
stuff--uniforms, gloves, pads, sticks--was frozen," says Latin.
"Then the ice melted on the way to Ottawa, so when we got there
the equipment was wet."
With less than seven hours until faceoff, Latin and his crew hung
up everything in an empty room at the Corel Centre, cranked the
heat and brought in a number of large fans to circulate the air.
"Everything was bone-dry by game time," says Latin. "Nobody even
knew." --Mark Beech
COLOR PHOTO: DAVE SANDFORD/GETTY IMAGES/NHLI New Leaf Nolan (11, with Wade Belak) kept spirits up with fivepoints in four games.