Klee can only watch as Leafs learn new ropes

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 11:46 AM ET

Nearly a whole week of inactivity is not what Ken Klee was getting psyched up for during the NHL lockout.

But as the rest of the Maple Leafs regulars have been scrimmaging in the past four days to kick off training camp, Klee for the most part has had no choice but to cool his heels.

It's because of a bruised heel, a seemingly harmless but actually painful injury, that Klee has been on the sideline.

He suffered the injury before camp began and participated in the opening scrimmage on Tuesday, but could barely walk afterward and has not been on the ice since.

"That's the hardest part, the mental battle," the 34-year-old defenceman said. "You stay healthy until right before camp, and then I banged it. I thought it would go away in a day, and it has been off and on."

Klee is not sure when he will resume skating, so his indoctrination to the tighter controls that will be exercised by on-ice officials will be delayed. The annual Blue and White game is today at 1 p.m., with the real pre-season opener tomorrow night at the Air Canada Centre against the Ottawa Senators.

And as one might figure, the players are expecting a whole different world when they step on to the ice for actual games.

If what is being bandied about becomes reality, it's going to be a lot of fun to be a forward in the NHL. The goalies will have their own problems with lack of movement behind the net and smaller equipment, but it's going to awfully interesting to see how defencemen adjust.

"They have taken away a lot of the leeway," Bryan McCabe said. "You can't cross-check and I'm not sure how much stick-lifting you can do.

"It certainly is (going to be non-contact) down low. We are used to pinning guys and that is our job -- take a guy, pin him and wait for the puck to clear. That tool has been taken away.

"I heard the refs are going to come in and talk to us before (pre-season)games, which is great. A lot of us have questions as to what we can and can't do."

Coach Pat Quinn and general manager John Ferguson won't have many player decisions to make in the coming weeks, but there will be a few. The backup job to Ed Belfour is open, there's at least one spot to be had on the blue line and there is an opening or two up front.

"It's encouraging that there are going to be tough decisions," Ferguson said. "We will have more than enough capabale NHL players to contribute."

The Leafs did some minor roster-trimming yesterday, sending defenceman Pat Sutton to Pensacola of the ECHL, defenceman Drew Kivell back to Lakehead University, and forwards Brent Aubin and Derek LeBlanc to their junior clubs.


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