The Washington Times - January 30, 2013, 05:51PM

TORONTO | Joey Crabb on Thursday night will play his first game back in Toronto since leaving the Maple Leafs to sign with the Washington Capitals. He’s not a Toronto native like Joel Ward, but he’s nevertheless excited about being back at Air Canada Centre.

“It’s a fun city, it’s a fun city to play in and they got a lot of passion,” Crabb said. “I’m excited to go and play against the old buddies and hopefully get a win out of it.”


During two seasons with the Maple Leafs organization, Crabb played 115 NHL games and put up 14 goals and 27 assists.

Randy Carlyle replaced Ron Wilson as coach midway through the 2011-12 season while Crabb was there. Since he came to Washington, the Maple Leafs have a new general manager in Dave Nonis after the firing of Brian Burke.

Toronto also has a handful of new players, including James van Riemsdyk, acquired in a draft-day trade with the Philadelphia Flyers. Crabb said the turnover didn’t really surprise him.

“I was surprised when Burke got fired, obviously,” Crabb said. “We didn’t make the playoffs; we’re the only team that hasn’t made the playoffs since the last lockout. I shouldn’t say we anymore.”

Crabb has changed, too, or at least his role has. He could again start alongside Alex Ovechkin and Jay Beagle, as he has the past three games.

But the 29-year-old isn’t giving himself any special label.

“Do I think of myself as a first-line player? Just as a guy trying to help out whoever I’m playing with,” Crabb said. “I’m not going to label myself a first-line player, no. I just want to help whoever I’m playing with and whoever they feel like that’s going to be, then that’s who I’ll work with and right now it happens to be Ovi and Beags.”