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TOP STORIES
Berezin's rush lets Leafs top Habs
Blackhawks claim Sullivan from Leafs
Ottawa takes look at Juneau
Score one for NHL: OT wins, goals add up
Leafs waive Sullivan for roster space
Leafs obtain Khristich from Bruins
. . . MORE!



S I D E L I N E
MAILBAG
Larry Wigge's mailbag
Hockey fans Bob Haynes Jr., Noel Crisostomo, Jim Rice and Bob Gougeon need answers from Mr. Hockey; did you write to Larry?

EXPERT
Larry Wigge
Having missed out on Dimitri Khristich, who goes to Toronto, Chicago will likely target Bill Guerin; plus, more notes from around the NHL.

EXPERT
Fans' View
TSN user Aaron Kleinman looks at some NHL players on the trading block and proposes some deals.

MAILBAG
Larry Wigge's mailbag
Mr. Hockey answers questions from Jason LeRoux in New Zealand, CJ Vogt, Bradley Joseph and Greg Henning; did you write?

EXPERT
Helene Elliott
Notes: A look at Alexei Yashin's holdout, home-ice disadvantage, Bruce McNall and the struggling Canadiens.

EXPERT
Larry Wigge
The Canadiens are the most storied franchise in hockey history, but in recent years, they've hit tough patches of ice.



Toronto Maple Leafs
Team Report posted OCTOBER 24, 1999     Print it!

By TSN correspondent
Scott Morrison
Toronto Sun

Depending on the source of information, the Maple Leafs on Friday acquired the missing link to a Stanley Cup, bought themselves a major headache or made Bruins GM Harry Sinden appear a little misguided.

Or all three.

The Leafs signed former Bruins forward Dmitri Khristich, 30, to a four-year deal worth $10.3 million. Reporters who covered Khristich during previous stops in Washington, Los Angeles and Boston, are not complementary of him as a team player. But none doubted the 6-2, 195-pound center/left winger's ability to help the Leafs.

Toronto gave up a compensatory second-round draft pick in 2000. Leafs general manager/coach Pat Quinn, who placed center Steve Sullivan on waivers to make room for Khristich, said the disappointing performances of several wingers during training camp convinced him to go after Khristich. But Quinn was mindful of the tainted reputation of Khristich, a nine-year veteran.

"We tried to do an extensive personal check on him," Quinn said. "We spoke to a lot of people who have been around from the playing ranks all the way to the management side, including trainers, because there was that question out there but, in my opinion, it has been a bad tag." . . .

Sullivan, who had asked to be traded, was picked up by Chicago on waivers. . . .

The deal for Khristich was Quinn's fourth since training camp opened in September. Earlier, he shipped Fredrik Modin to Tampa Bay for Cory Cross; Sylvain Cote to Chicago for a second-round draft pick in 2001; and Derek King to St. Louis for defensive prospect Tyler Harlton.

"What I would like to do right now is stop for a little bit and pull our guys together," Quinn said. "We have had some changes involving guys who were well-liked and well-respected here and that's unsettling. It is hard emotionally. It creates some fear (in those who remain). It gets the wrong emotion in. We have to slow that down and see if we can do some team-building now. We are going to stop (roster moves for now)." . . .

Speaking of Quinn, he doesn't intend to be GM for life. He hopes to get to the point where he will hold one position -- coach. Although Quinn said he feels comfortable with the existing situation, "It wasn't something I wanted. Right now, it's working. I don't know how it is going to work long term. I don't think the best situation is manager/coach for a lot of reasons. But it is a fact right now and we will deal with it. Some day, that is going to change."

Quinn assumed the dual role last summer when associate general manager Mike Smith made demands that Leafs president Ken Dryden couldn't meet and was released. . . .

The Leafs agreed to pick up one-third of Derek Kings' $1.65 million contract before trading him to St. Louis late Wednesday night. . . .

With the addition of Khristich, the Leafs have a Ukrainian, a Czech, a Kazakh, an American, two Swedes, five Russians and 12 Canadians on their 23-player roster. "English is not the No. 1 language anymore," captain Mats Sundin said jokingly. "It's more a matter if you are a team guy. It hasn't been a problem, not yet anyway."

Quinn will keep a watchful eye on his team's chemistry. . . .

Since Cote was shipped to Chicago, the Leafs are 2-3-1. . . .

Khristich wasn't the only new face in the lineup Saturday against Montreal. Defenseman Greg Andrusak was called up from the Chicago Wolves of the IHL to replace Chris McAllister, who is nursing a sore knee. . . .

Sundin, who has missed six games with a fractured right foot, could be back on skates early next week. "If everything is fine with my X-ray on Monday, I could be skating by Monday or Tuesday," Sundin said.

POSITIONAL ANALYSIS

Forwards: Khristich played on a line with center Nik Antropov and right winger Mike Johnson and looked good in his debut. Khristich didn't get a point, but had several good chances. Sergei Berezin seems to have found his way now that Igor Korolev is back as his center. Alyn McCauley has scored in consecutive games and is looking like his old self. Grade: A.

Defensemen: Bryan Berard missed the Habs game with a suspension, while McAllister was unable to move in because of his knee problems. But the defense, which is getting used to each other, played another sound game. Grade: B.

Goaltenders: Curtis Joseph made a bad giveaway that led to Carolina scoring the tying goal on Wednesday, but he played brilliantly against Montreal. The more work he gets, the better he plays. Grade: B.

Coaching: Quinn may not like having two jobs, but he has been handling them very well. Grade: A.

INJURY REPORT

Sundin is still at least a couple of weeks away from returning; McAllister is day to day with his knee sprain. Todd Warriner also has a sore knee, but he continues to play.

IN THE CREASE

Accuse the Leafs of a lot of things, but don't accuse them of not wanting to win. That would be the ownership group, of course. They have committed in excess of $35 million U.S. for player salaries this year, yet there are critics who say they are cheap and not concerned about whether the team wins.

Well, judging by the deft moves Quinn made in the past week, it appears winning is high on the agenda and that they are also committed to running a sound business.

It's funny, but teams get criticized for spending recklessly and criticized for not spending recklessly.

GETTING PHYSICAL

It's looking like the NHL is heading down another controversial road with its revised crease rules this season. Habs goaltender Jeff Hackett was bumped a couple of times Saturday night, but none worse than on the Leafs second goal when Korolev shouldered him off the puck, then jammed it into the net. If the new rule is going to work, the referees have to make sure the goaltenders are protected from charging forwards.

SCOUTING REPORT

Khristich, though a little rusty in his Leaf debut, has some obvious skills. Like most natural goal scorers, he finds the net and finds open ice. He has size, so he can work the boards, or take some punishment in front of the goal. With the Leafs free-flow style of play, Khristich could turn into a 40-goal scorer.

FANTASY BIT

In the week ahead, the Leafs play Dallas, Atlanta and Calgary, all at home, so two of the three are very winnable games. The Leaf, for the first time ever, have also formed a Russian Five power-play unit, using Berezin, Korolev and Khristich up front, with Danny Markov and Alexander Karpovtsev on the points. That unit could be capable of putting up big numbers, especially against weaker teams.

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