Klee is a definite maybe

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 5:53 PM ET


 The Most commonly used word heard during an interview with either Ken Klee or Darcy Tucker these days is "hope."

 As in: "I hope to be in the lineup for Game 1."

 Truth be told, Maple Leafs coach Pat Quinn is not counting on either player being available for the opener on Thursday in the best-of-seven first-round matchup against the Ottawa Senators at the Air Canada Centre.

 Klee is the better bet to suit up, but he has yet to test his healing right shoulder with any physical contact. Until that happens, the jury remains out.

 "I'm not even sure we're that close yet," Quinn said yesterday. "We were are all optimistic here, thinking that would be just marvelous if they were ready to go on opening night. But it's moved slower than we've hoped and we're not even talking in terms of it right now.

 "Darcy's only had two days on skates."

 Tucker, who missed the final 13 games of the regular season with an abdominal injury, was elusive with reporters after coming off the ice from the Leafs' optional practice yesterday.

 He is still moving gingerly while on the blades, although he admitted the ailment "felt better" this time around.

 "My gut feeling is, I'll try to be ready for (Thursday)," Tucker said. "If I'm not in there, you'll know."

 Tucker said he had not had the ailment examined by a doctor in 10 days.

 Klee, meanwhile, continues to improve and would provide a significant boost to the Leafs blue line.

 "I still need a full practice with hitting to test it," the veteran defenceman said. "Come (tomorrow), I'm going to have to pull someone over and say: 'Let's get physical.'

 "The doctor will see me in the next couple of days. Should I get (the okay) for the opener it will be pleasant for me -- and for my wife."

 Quinn was asked if a last-minute decision concerning the availability of either Klee or Tucker would disrupt the team's lineup.

 "We'll make that call ahead of time," he said.

 "But with the kind of (injury-plagued) team we've had this year, it would be prudent to dress two extra for warmup just in case."

 Forward Mikael Renberg said he would be ready to go on Thursday. Renberg was hobbled by a nagging hamstring injury for much of the past month.


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