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Leafs first preseason game for Sunday cancelled

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
by Tony Care.

The Leafs will not play their first preseason game, scheduled for Sunday, as the NHL announced that it was cancelling all of its weekend games due to the tragedy that hit the United States on Tuesday.

Toronto was tentatively scheduled to leave for St. John's some time after practice on Friday in preparation to play the Canadiens on Sunday. The Leafs are now considering plans to reschedule that game in St. John's against Montreal for Monday, but the possibility still remains that the team will not head to St. John's at all.

"We not there yet, but there will come a time when you'll have to do that (cancel the trip to St. John's)," said head coach Pat Quinn. "This is a shortened camp as it is."

Players and coaches wouldn't take a side on whether the league made the right decision. While the natural reaction would be to not play on the weekend, the choice was out of the players hands.

"I think it's a tough call," said Leaf captain Mats Sundin. "If the league feels that it's inappropriate then we shouldn't play. We're hockey players and our job is to play hockey."

The Leafs had planned to open training camp for the first time in St. John's. All the preparations were made and the city was abuzz about its NHL affiliate staying for six days. The new arena, Mile One Stadium, was supposed to host training camp, but as a result of Tuesday's horror, it's filled with air passengers who were diverted from the U.S.

"The people in St. John's were excited about us coming down there," said left winger Shayne Corson. "But other pro sports have cancelled their games and I think it put a lot of pressure on the National Hockey League to do so as well. We'll stand by whatever the league decides."

In the meantime, Leaf players took to the ice for the second day of training camp. While some equipment was still in St. John's, players were able to get fitted with new gear from their equipment representatives.

The practice was broken down into two groups. Team A started with some drills and then played a 60-minute scrimmage with Team B. After the scrimmage was over, Team B had its own set of drills to work on. While Thursday's practice did allow the team to get back to a more normal pace, Quinn said the first two days of camp were unusual for obvious reasons.

"We are adjusting," he said. "Those things happen in this business. We had a decent practice today (Thursday). It's not as if we're alone, every team is facing this so we're just going to make the best of it. There will be more of a look to preparation then there is to evaluation. Some guys aren't going to get a long look."
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