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Leafs still planning to travel east

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
by Tony Care.

It seems the Leafs are determined to head to St. John's.

With travel plans getting pushed back every day, the team still has designs to travel east and play their game against the Canadiens on Monday. The NHL announced Thursday that it was cancelling all weekend games and as a result, the Leaf-Canadiens game that was scheduled for Sunday was wiped out.

The plan as it stands now is for the Leafs to practice in Toronto on Saturday morning and leave on a charter to St. John's later in the evening. However, the Leafs are at the mercy of the flight plans at Pearson International Airport in Toronto. Right now all charters out of the Toronto airport are on a low-priority basis.

Provided the Leafs are able to make it to St. John 's, the Blue-White scrimmage, which was originally set for Saturday would be played Sunday.

While Leaf coach Pat Quinn acknowledges that staying in Toronto for the remainder of training camp would the be easiest thing to do, he also recognizes the commitment the team made to the city of St. John's.

"We made a promise quite a while back and a lot of people were looking forward to having us there so we're going to try and stick with it," said Quinn. "But we're coming to a point where something will have to be resolved as far as plans are concerned because we've had a short camp and there's still more work to do. With the uncertainty (of camp) it's harder to get everybody back and concentrating on getting ready for the start (of preseason)."

If the Leafs play the Canadiens on Monday, it would be the start three straight games where they would fly to Montreal for a preseason game on Tuesday then play in Ottawa the next night. Still, players would like to make the trip to St. John's.

"I have a lot of relatives down there that were looking forward to us playing the Montreal Canadiens, so I'd look forward to going down to play if that's what happens," said Leafs winger Gary Roberts. "Those people down there have had a tough couple of days and probably deserve to see the Toronto Maple Leafs."

Leaf captain Mats Sundin would just like to see the matter resolved.

"I think the toughest part is the fact that you don't know what's going on," said Sundin. "Like tonight (Friday), we have to find out if we're leaving or not. You're kind of in a waiting mode. The best thing would be if a decision was made one way or the other."

Flying to St. John's was not the only thing on the minds of players and coaches. Like many around the continent, the Leafs wanted to pay their respects to the thousands of people who died on Tuesday as a result of the horrible tragedy that hit the United States. The team took a break in the middle of practice to observe a moment of silence on this national day or mourning.

"Everybody was watching and taking a few moments to reflect on things," said Roberts. "Obviously, it's been a tough time for everybody."
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