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A Morning Filled With Sidebars

by Mike Ulmer / Toronto Maple Leafs
The Leafs are trying to avoid their fourth straight loss in tonight’s home game against the New York Islanders but the morning is filled with sidebars.


Assistant to the GM Joe Nieuwendyk has hooked on with the Canadian National men’s program. He will be following a familiar development track and will work with general manager Doug Armstrong and fellow assistant Pierre Gauthier in selecting the team for the 2009 World Hockey Championship in Switzerland.

"I know Doug really well from Dallas and I’m looking forward to getting to know Pierre," said Nieuwendyk.

Nieuwendyk has management aspirations but won’t be pinned down to exactly the kind of job he wants. “I haven’t considered myself a coach but I enjoy being around the guys and giving whatever advice I can.” he said.

Meanwhile, the injury to rookie Luke Schenn has brought Jaime Sifers from the Marlies to the Leafs.

The 25-year-old native of Stratford, Connecticut, will play his first NHL game.

"It’s a great moment of my life," said Sifers, who has played 199 games for the Marlies. He scored 14 goals in the minors.

"My game is about keeping things simple," he said. "I want to keep on doing that, take care of things in my end and look to get involved."

"Jaime doesn’t play a complicated game anyway," said coach Ron Wilson. "We’ll get him to focus on defence. He’ll probably end up playing quite a bit, at least 15 minutes.

Wilson will pair Sifers with Ian White. Pavel Kubina will begin with Jeff Finger. Tomas Kaberle works with Anton Stralman.

With Niklas Hagman lost to the club after taking a knee in the head on Saturday and missing one game, Jeremy Williams also gets the callup. Williams, 24, has 11 goals and three assists with the Marlies. He worked the left side with Dominic Moore and Jason Blake during morning skate. Matt Stajan was in between Alexei Ponikarovsky and Nik Antropov on the number one unit. Lee Stempniak moves to the left side with Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin. The fourth line, as it did in Saturday’s loss to Washington, features Andre Deveaux, John Mitchell and Ryan Hollweg.

Vesa Toskala, (9-9-5, 3.19 GAA) is expected to make his 25th start and seventh in a row.

The Islanders are without goalie Rick DiPietro, lost to a knee injury.
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