Holy Mackinaw! In his 20th season of calling the action of the blue and white, Joe Bowen is the definitive voice of the Maple Leafs. You can listen to Joe do the play-by-play on Leafs TV and radio broadcasts and now you can get his insights on the what's happening with the team.
CAROLINA -- For the second straight year the Toronto Maple Leafs find themselves on an extended road trip between Christmas and New Years as the ice show, Disney on Ice, takes up residence at the Air Canada Center. With the extended contract of this show to come to Toronto at this time of the year the Leafs can prepare themselves for more of the same in the future.
Teams that struggle to attract full houses attempt to get as many home dates as they can during the holidays. The Carolina Hurricanes enjoyed just their 6th sellout of the season when the Leafs arrived there on Boxing Day.
| Mats Sundin had his family in for the holidays early. |
"Because of the scheduling our vacation time is pretty short", said Mats Sundin the Leaf Captain as we boarded the Air Canada Charter to start the five-game, nine-day road trip. "I had my parents and younger brother over from Sweden but they arrived a week or so ahead of Christmas so we could spend some time together, they left after we took off for Carolina."
Most of the players have families living in Toronto. Some of them are busier than others. Dimitri Yushkevich and his wife Oksana had triplets a few years ago, so you know the Yushkevich household is very busy Christmas morning. The birth of the triplets in April of 1999 sparked my color man Harry Neale to quip, "that Dimitri Yushkevich was living proof that you didn't have to have any sleep to play in the NHL!"
"We were up early enough," said Yushkevich, "and as usual the kids were spoiled."
Two members of the Leaf family were celebrating their very first Christmas time. Goaltender Curtis Joseph and his wife Nancy had baby boy Luke join their family during the summer. However Madison, Taylor and Tristan made sure Luke got all of his presents opened.
"As usual it was a very busy and short period of time to celebrate," said Joseph. "My kids are like everyone else they get wound up and excited. Getting them to sleep Christmas Eve is a big chore."
Leaf equipment manager Brian Papineau and his wife Shelly had a little girl in early December. Amy won't remember too much of this Christmas but Abigail who is 4 and Alex who is 3 made sure her presents were opened correctly.
For Michael Renberg and Robert Reichel, Travis Green, Corey Schwab, Alex Mogilny, and Jyrki Lumme, this was their first Christmas period in Toronto and they spent it with family and friends locally as it was too short a period to travel very far.
Gary Valk and his wife Tanya along with daughter Allisandra drove to London to be with family and friends, while linemate Alyn McCauley drove with his wife Nicole to Brockville to be with his family.
"There was plenty of snow down there," said McCauley. "They didn't get as much as Buffalo but they got enough."
Leaf assistant coach Rick Ley had a houseful of grand kids invade Toronto. The gang was so large Ley traded houses with his brother-in-law for a few days.
After plenty of action around the Christmas tree, sometimes that early morning flight to a game Boxing Day isn't that bad after all.