Painful reality for Leafs

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:37 AM ET

GRAVENHURST -- With barely 24 hours remaining before the Maple Leafs open their 2005-06 regular season against their most-hated rival, questions remain on the blue line.

Ken Klee made it through 90 minutes of practice yesterday at the Gravenhurst Centennial Centre. Aki Berg had to pull out midway through and Wade Belak didn't even make it on to the ice. Whether any of the three is in uniform tomorrow night at the Air Canada Centre versus the Ottawa Senators is up in the air.

Klee, who did not play in the pre-season because of a bruised left heel, surprised the coaching staff by staying on the ice for the full workout. But will he play tomorrow?

"I would say Saturday (at the ACC against the Montreal Canadiens) is extremely realistic but it depends on how practice goes this week. And it might be earlier," Klee said, which would put him in against Ottawa. "It's coming along. (Yesterday) was my best day. I could turn both ways instead of just getting by with going off the other foot, which I have been doing."

After Klee most recently skated, he could barely walk for a few days. So he will have a better idea when he wakes up this morning.

Berg was bothered by a rib injury during camp and it flared up again yesterday. The big Finn said he should be all right for tomorrow night but would know better after practice today. Belak has an infected foot, an injury that just popped up, but said jokingly it might have occurred "when I jumped off a speaker at the bar on (Sunday) night."

The result of the uncertainty is that one of or both of Carlo Colaiacovo and Staffan Kronwall -- their assignment to the Toronto Marlies of the AHL officially was announced by the Leafs at noon yesterday, 36 hours after they had been told -- might be recalled. General manager John Ferguson said it was a "likely scenario" there could be a callup in time for a 9:30 a.m. practice here. Clubs have to submit their 23-man roster by 3 p.m. today. Including Klee, who could go on the injured reserve, there are 24 players in camp.

At any rate, Quinn said he was not down on the 22-year-old Colaiacovo, who many thought would earn a spot with the Leafs. Instead, the unheralded Andy Wozniewski won a job following a solid training camp.

"I really don't know if it was the right call," Quinn said of demoting Colaiacovo. "We felt that (Wozniewski) was the right guy to start with but time is going to tell on that.

"We would have liked (Colaiacovo) to use his feet to find that ice on the offensive side. We always want to hurry young defencemen, but it's the hardest position to learn how to play properly. He has made good progress. I am not disappointed. I thought he was a little too cautious because he doesn't want to make any mistakes."

Goalie Jean-Sebastien Aubin, meanwhile, will join the Marlies today if he clears waivers by noon, leaving the backup role to Ed Belfour firmly in the hands of Mikael Tellqvist.


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