Sunday, April 01, 2007


Toronto Maple Leafs-Belleville Connection # 4

As you are pulling that blue and white jersey over your head to get ready for the game tonight, here is another tidbit to consider: Kyle Wellwood and Kris Newbury both played for the Belleville Bulls. Along with Raycroft, Stajan, and McCabe, that brings a strong local flavour to the current Leafs roster. And yes, there is another fellow around the dressing room who played for the Bulls. He also has some influence on the game in Toronto. I will keep you guessing, and pass along his name at the end of the article.

For the casual hockey observer, there might be a tendency to confuse Wellwood and Newbury.

Reason Number One: Both have first names that start with the letter K. Sorry, it really is a stupid reason, but I thought I’d throw it out there. Not many names start with “K”.

Reason Number Two: Size. They are almost the same size. Slightly small for today’s hockey standards, about five feet, ten inches. And both in the two hundred pound range. Much more valid reason than the “K” business.

Reason Number Three: Minor league experience. Both began their OHL careers with the Bulls. Wellwood spent two and one half seasons in Belleville, Newbury a season and a half. Both got dispatched to western Ontario cities. Both have played for Leafs farm teams on at least three separate occasions.

Reason Number Four: Success. Not everyone who laces up skates gets a chance to play in the NHL. Both have, following outstanding OHL and Minor league seasons.

Reason Number Five: Draft. Both were drafted in the first round by the Bulls. Both players were drafted in the 5th round by NHL teams. Freaky! Wellwood was drafted 134th by the leafs, Newbury 139th by the San Jose Sharks. In different years. Still weird.

Reason Number Six: Position. Both are listed as centres on the wonderful “Hockey”; however, Newbury is used more often on the wing. But don’t be surprised to find Wellwood out there, on occasion.

Newbury began his OHL career with the Bulls in 1998, Wellwood the following year. They played together in Belleville for half a season, during a very strong period in the franchise’s existence. Others in the mix at that time were Cheechoo, Papineau, Radivojevic, Mezei, Nathan Robinson, and Ryan Ready---all moved on to the NHL. They also had outstanding goaltending at the time from Cory Campbell.

Both players began their minor pro careers on the Rock, with the St. John’s Maple Leafs in 2003. Since that time, Wellwood has logged more ice time in the NHL. Newbury has played 15 games with the parent club this year, as the leafs have attempted to fill the gaps because of injuries.

With a handful of games remaining, the pundits will be spewing facts and figures and opinions unmercifully at us from all of the sports channels. Spare the words.

Drop the puck. Play the game.

How about them Dukes! And that other fellow who can be found in the rafters and in the bowels of the Air Canada Centre? Why it’s Doug Gilmour, who played for the Bulls in their “Tier II” days, the year before they entered the OHL. His official title of “Player Development Advisor” means that he will keep an eye on leafs at all levels of the organization, passing on advice to the powers that be. He retired from the Leafs as a player on September 8, 2003

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