The Thrashers are in town tonight (7 p.m. Sportsnet) for the last Leaf game before an extended five-day Christmas break for the blue and white.
No one in Atlanta seems to care (the Thrashers currently sit 28th in NHL attendance), but this is actually a pretty good team, led by Ondrej Pavelec between the pipes, big, bad Dustin Byfuglien on the blue line and talented youngsters like Evander Kane, Bryan Little and Andrew Ladd up front.
A visit from the Thrashers also gives us a chance to catch up with our old friend Nik Antropov - easily my favourite former Leaf from Kazakhstan. Big Nik was drafted 10th overall by the Leafs in the 1998 Entry Draft, perhaps on the strength of a 26-point performance against Iceland in an international game. My first memory of him is from the 1999 World Junior Championship in Winnipeg where he captained Kazakhstan and wore a Leaf sticker on his helmet.
Never a great skater, Antropov struggled with knee injuries early in his career and never reached the heights Leaf Nation hoped for. He was a bit of a whipping boy near the end of his run here, despite scoring more than 20 goals in each of his last two seasons.
Mirtle will be on hand for the morning skates and should have something posted in this space to get you ready for the game.
Until then, the links:
The Globe's Matthew Sekres on Mikhail Grabovski emerging as the Leafs' best player.
Toronto Sun reporter Lance Hornby talks to ex-Thrashers Clarke MacArthur and Colby Armstrong about their former team.
Toronto Star reporter Paul Hunter says the Thrashers are deep and dangerous.
Mike Langlois at Vintage Leaf Memories on Nazem Kadri being a healthy scratch in Vancouver Saturday night.
Full marks to the Green Men for their performance in Vancouver on Saturday night. Eggo toss = instant classic.
ESPN.com's Bill Simmons had Washington Wizards and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis on his podcast Friday. Fascinating stuff on what it means to be the owner of a franchise and his vision on how to build a team. The link to the show is on the top right of the page.
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