- The Washington Times - Monday, October 13, 2003

Seen and heard last night at Air Canada Centre in Toronto:

OLD FRIEND# — Leafs defenseman Ken Klee spent nine seasons with the Caps, often pairing with Sergei Gonchar. Klee had career-highs of 16 assists and a plus-22 defensive rating last year, but with a mandate not to increase payroll, Caps general manager George McPhee couldn’t afford Klee when he became an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Klee, who had been seeking a multi-year deal at $3 million a year, finally signed a one-year, $1.5 million contract with Toronto on Sept. 27.

“I had a great run in Washington, but they were facing a changing [economic] landscape and I got crunched,” Klee told Toronto writers on Sunday.

With blue line mainstay Brendan Witt (nose) and newcomer John Gruden (groin) hurt, the Caps certainly could have used Klee last night. He led the Leafs with 22:01 of ice time in Toronto’s season-opening loss to Montreal last Saturday.

WITT UPDATE# — McPhee said he expects Witt, who was slammed into the boards face first during the first period of Saturday’s 4-3 loss to Atlanta, to be back in the lineup when the Caps visit Dallas on Friday. Gruden, however, is on injured reserve.

HOCKEY TOWN — How much does Toronto love hockey? The College Street subway station, four stops from Air Canada Centre, features framed photos of the Leafs’ emblem and greats King Clancy, Wendel Clark and Dave Andreychuk. The station walls also sport murals of the Leafs on the southbound side and the rival Montreal Canadiens on the northbound side.

The Caps were 2-4-1 at Air Canada Centre heading into the game. Washington was 14-21-4 in the building’s predecessor, Maple Leaf Gardens.

David Elfin

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