A big pain for Big E

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Eric Lindros is getting testy talking about getting hit and on what...

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Eric Lindros is getting testy talking about getting hit and on what line he's going to play on during the opening of training camp. (Toronto Sun/Alex Urosevic)

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:02 AM ET

It's barely two days into on-ice sessions at Maple Leafs training camp and Eric Lindros already is feeling the heat.

A day after he was crunched by rookie defenceman Staffan Kronwall during a scrimmage, Lindros was taken aback with the idea that such an incident was newsworthy.

"You guys are going to make a big deal out of every little thing that happens," a slightly annoyed Lindros told a throng of reporters at the Ricoh Coliseum yesterday.

"I'm a hockey player and hockey players get hit. I don't think there is anything more to talk about."

Maybe, but when you're Eric Lindros and you have a history of injuries and you've been pining to play for the Leafs for years and you can be one of the top players in the game if all is going well, it's certainly a topic for discussion. If he tapes his stick blade a different way than normally, people will want to know why.

Actually, Lindros said he didn't mind the hit along the boards from Kronwall, a 6-foot-3 defenceman from Sweden who stands a good chance of grabbing one of the few spots on the blue line.

Lindros understands Kronwall has little choice but to do all he can to make a positive impression.

"You can fly up and down the ice all you want," Lindros said. "But it's getting into the grind situation of being hit and hitting back. Getting into those kinds of scenarios is what camp is all about. Wait until we get into the exhibition games, where there is a little more intensity."

As Lindros was talking to reporters, a couple of other big-name additions who will be under plenty of scrutiny in the coming months were connecting well on the ice.

Centre Jason Allison, who did not participate in the first scrimmage on Tuesday after aggravating a hip injury, took part and clicked with Jeff O'Neill in the few shifts the two had together.

"Health-wise, I felt great," said Allison, who has not played in an NHL game since the 2002-03 season. "The speed is good out there. But it's going to be different once the season starts. It's more of a thinking game where now you are not quite sure where everyone is going to be."

If you're O'Neill, you have to be rubbing your hands with glee in anticipation of what will happen in the pre-season and beyond. As a winger, O'Neill is going to play with one of Allison, Lindros or captain Mats Sundin.

O'Neill has scored in each of the scrimmages and likely will get a look with Allison.

"Our big three centres are all honours to play with," O'Neill said.

Lindros has been counted upon to be a scorer with the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers, but there's a good possibility he will wind up as the third-line centre in a checking role. But don't ask him about his role.

"We are two days into this and you guys are speculating about things that are going to happen in a month (when the regular season begins)," Lindros said.


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