Stempniak had his first brush with the Leafs madness when he arrived at Pearson International Airport last night. A few bystanders chanted “Go Leafs Go” as he waited for his luggage.
As if he needed any proof as to what his buddy Mayers was telling him about he got all of 10 minutes into his first stroll into the city as a Maple Leaf before he was reminded of what it means to be a Leaf. Hopefully he was watching Wendel's banner raising for tips on how to earn the adoration of the fans. Step one will be scoring much more than Alex Steen for the rest of his career.
As for where he is going to play, there was some speculation that he would get parachuted onto the Man Grabs Lemon line but that does not seem to be the case out of hand:
Assuming they do – the oft-injured Colaiacovo is a concern – Wilson confirmed that his plan is to start Stempniak on a line with Dominic Moore and Jason Blake. He said he would experiment over the next few weeks, spotting him on his top two lines depending on who was playing well or poorly in any particular game.
Wilson said he also wanted to see where Stempniak is most comfortable; he is a right-hand shot who can play either wing. This year he's been playing mostly on the left side.
Look for Stempniak to at the least get some powerplay time especially on any 5-on-3s. It's good to see that Kulemin is not getting the short end of the stick before he deserves it. The Silver Fox saw his target, had a shot, and he took it. I have no problem with him making the move while the Leafs are hammering out details with Burke because you cannot miss opportunities that an entire organization has identified because you are paralyzed by what-ifs.
The news isn't all rosy today as the Hockey Viking is out for 4-6 weeks:
Meanwhile, the Leafs found out that defenceman Jonas Frogren will out of action for 4 to 6 weeks. He hyper-extended his elbow on the first shift, causing muscle tears in his bicep.
For a Thrashers' point of view check out the great Do The Thrashers Have Large Talons and be sure to read his post on Ilya Kovalchuk to be properly scared before tonight's game knowing that Old Yeller is getting the start.
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