When the Leafs signed Ed Belfour on Tuesday they didn't know they acquired a player with a scoring touch. In fact, the netminder popped a couple in a game played at Maple Leaf Gardens just before the arena closed in 1999.
Don't worry if you don't remember, there weren't many who saw it. Belfour rented the facility for one final skate with a group of his friends.
"That was an exciting time for myself. There were about 40 of my close friends that either flew here or drove, I think one of my friends drove 20 some hours to get here," he recalled at a news conference Wednesday that announced his arrival. "It was our last game here at Maple Leaf Gardens and we rented the ice out the night before our game. I ended up playing forward and scoring two goals."
| Belfour and his new wife Ashli are excited about moving to Toronto. |
Those scoring exploits may not be well known in hockey circles but his achievements and attitude as an NHL goaltender are well known.
"I want to win and I'll do whatever it takes to win," said Belfour. "Sometimes maybe I ask a lot of people around me to help me win. I don't like lazy people around me and if someone is like that then I'll let them know.
"I want to play my best every night and I want to play my best throughout the season. You can't do it by yourself, you need help."
Belfour knows what it takes to win having backstopped the Dallas Stars to the title in 1999 and he believes similar results are possible here.
"I think the Toronto Maple Leafs have a really great chance of winning the Stanley Cup. I watched during the playoffs, I've watched the kind of heart and determination this team has. That means a lot and I think they are going to be an even better team next year.
"It's my goal to help this team achieve the ultimate goal and that's to bring the Stanley Cup and I'm going to work as hard as I can to achieve that goal and work 110 per cent every day. I look forward to meeting all my new teammates and look forward to playing in front of the greatest fans in the NHL."
Here are some more comments from Belfour on his career and coming to Toronto: On playing for the Leafs:
"This is definitely a dream come true. When I was a kid watching Hockey Night In Canada it was one of my favourite teams and definitely my mom's favourite team. So she's very excited." On wearing his familiar number 20:
" I didn't know it was going to be there or not but when I found out it definitely put a smile on my face." On his relationship with Pat Quinn and what that meant to joining the Leafs:
"They contacted me almost right away and that made me feel really good because I wanted to be on a team that respects me and wants me. Pat Quinn and I had a good relationship in Salt Lake. Of course I wanted to play and be the guy in net but it didn't work out that way and for me I was just happy to be on the team to represent my country in the Olympics."
On changing his style in net:
| Belfour will backstop the Leafs wearing his familiar number 20. |
"I think when I first started in the league I probably went down a lot too much, went out of the net too far, got caught wandering a lot because I played the puck a lot. I think I stand up a little bit more and maybe a little bit more conservative when I play the puck." On talking to any Leafs about coming here:
"Actually I didn't contact anyone on the team. I do know Shayne Corson a little bit from playing with Team Canada in '91. I felt in my heart and talking with Ron (Salcer, his agent) and watching the playoffs that I knew what I wanted." On improving after a subpar season:
"I know what changes I have to make in my preparation towards the game to make it the level or beyond the level that I can play at. I know what it takes to do that and to be ready to do that." On his fitness level:
"I've always been physically fit. I have a really good background in that being a track athlete and doing some triathlons. I've always had that background and it's really helped me over the years." On his relationship with legendary Russian goalie Vladislav Tretiak:
"My relationship with him started when I was a rookie in Chicago in 1989-90. Mike Keenan hired Vlady as a goalie coach and I started working with him that summer. He has goalie schools across the country. He has a school here in Toronto which I'll be attending in August. It always helps me get ready for training camp. He's helped my game out tremendously right from the start, he's a first class guy and will help anybody. I can't say enough for how much he's helped me." On his manner in the dressing room:
"I'm not a really vocal guy. I try to lead by example. Sometimes being a little quiet can be misunderstood but I'm not too worried about it. I'll try to say things when something should be said." On getting married just a few weeks ago:
"It's been great. I'm a very lucky guy. She's helped me tremendously over the last year and a half that we've known each other. One of our close friends said that with us together we can move mountains so I'm looking forward to that." (Ed and his wife Ashli met through a mutual acquaintance in Dallas. Their first date was a boat trip.)