TORONTO (AP) _ Brian Leetch sounded far from thrilled to be a member of the
Toronto Maple Leafs despite an impressive debut.
Leetch had three assists in the Maple Leafs' 6-2 victory over the New York
Islanders on Thursday night.
Acquired on Wednesday from the New York Rangers, Leetch donned a different
uniform for the first time in his 17-season NHL career.
The two-time Norris Trophy winner made an immediate impact, setting up two
power-play goals by Bryan McCabe and one by Mats Sundin.
``Everything went well right off the bat,'' Leetch said. ``It made it a lot
easier for me. It's been a whirlwind day.''
Leetch said he would have preferred to finish his career in New York. He
didn't sound happy that he wasn't consulted before the trade.
``It's done with now,'' said Leetch, who learned of the deal when he got a
call in a hotel room in Boston. ``It was a 212 number from New York City and I
said, 'This is probably not good.'''
Leetch said he had a short conversation with Rangers general manager Glen
``It was just shocking. I didn't really have anything to say,'' Leetch said.
``Mark Messier is my roommate. We didn't have much to say to each other. We
just kind of got out of there.''
Robert Reichel, Gary Roberts and Darcy Tucker also scored for the Maple
Leafs, who have won three straight with No. 1 goalie Ed Belfour back in net.
Belfour, plagued recently by a sore back, was rarely tested as the Islanders
managed just three shots in the first 33 minutes. Toronto outshot New York
24-18, including 9-2 in the first period.
Leetch assisted on Sundin's power-play goal at 7:02 of the first by
threading a pass to Roberts, who passed to Sundin in front of the net.
McCabe's one-timer from the blue line after Leetch's pass made it 2-0 at
``I expect him to have a four- or five-point night from here on in every
night,'' Toronto coach Pat Quinn joked. ``He was very good.''
Reichel scored with 54 seconds left in the first after goaltender Rick
DiPietro went down before the shot, and Roberts' tip-in gave Toronto a 4-0 lead
midway through the third.
Leetch faked a shot before passing to McCabe, whose one-timer during a
two-man advantage made it 5-0.
Trent Hunter and Mark Parrish scored power-play goals in the third for New
``When a team makes a big trade like that it's going to have a positive
impact on their lineup, especially with a guy of the caliber of Brian Leetch,''
Islanders captain Michael Peca said.
Tucker got his 20th of the season at 16:30.
Excited that Leetch might improve Toronto's chances to win its first Stanley
Cup since 1967, fans gave the star defenseman a huge ovation when he was
introduced before the game.
Leetch played a huge role in helping the Rangers win the 1994 Stanley Cup,
their first since 1940. He had 11 goals and 23 assists in 23 playoff games to
earn the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.
One fan held up a sign that read: ``Welcome to the playoffs Leetch.'' The
Rangers haven't made the postseason in seven years.