Hold your head up, Kyle

MIKE ZEISBERGER and TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:07 AM ET

John Ferguson wants Kyle Wellwood to keep his head up.

The Maple Leafs general manager said he was "encouraged" by Wellwood's performance over the past month, a period in which he led Toronto in exhibition scoring with three goals and two assists.

"His play was very promising," Ferguson said, just hours after Wellwood was informed that he had been re-assigned to the American Hockey League's Toronto Marlies. "He was very professional."

Don't be surprised if Wellwood re-appears with the Leafs in the not-so-distant future. Last minute call-ups will be much more convenient for the Leafs this season because the farm club is now located just a few kilometres down the road at the RicohColiseum as opposed to hours away in St. John's.

"The biggest decision will be whether a call-up should take the street car or taxi to the Air Canada Centre," Marlies GM Mike Penny said jokingly.

Meanwhile Ferguson was non-commital when asked if the Leafs might look to veteran Bryan Marchment should the team's injury woes continue on defence.

Punch line

How have linemates Jason Allison, Darcy Tucker and Jeff O'Neill changed since they were teammates on the gold-medal winning CanadianJunior team in Red Deer?

"Ten years later, Jason is bigger and Darcy is smaller," O'Neill said. "Yeah," added Tucker, "and Jeff is uglier."

New beard

Jason Allison was sporting a playoff-like beard in training camp but promised it would be coming off in time for tonight's game.

And who can blame Allison for his facial growth?After all, because of whiplash and concussion woes, tonight will mark Allison's first NHLgame since January 2003.

Different take

Defenceman Bryan McCabe doesn't need tonight's opener to get his heart racing. McCabe's wife Roberta gave birth to the couple's first child, daughter Stevie, a week ago.

Does McCabe have a different outlook on life?

"Absolutely," the 30-year-old said. "Having a kid was the happiest day of my life."

It was an unbelievable experience, tough to explain."


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