Quinn goes to plan D

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:07 AM ET

GRAVENHURST -- You'll certainly need a program to identify the home side when the Maple Leafs step on to the ice tonight for their first meaningful game in 17 months.

You may have to lend it to Pat Quinn, too.

Even the coach was uncertain yesterday as to what the makeup of his defence corps might be when his Leafs open the 2005-06 regular season against the arch-rival Ottawa Senators, the high-flying team that defeated Toronto in both pre-season meetings.

Because of injuries to defencemen Ken Klee, Wade Belak and Aki Berg, management informed youngsters Carlo Colaiacovo and Staffan Kronwall that their services might be required against the Sens.

Both kids were chauffeured north from Marlies camp Monday and practised with the Leafs in front of a full house at the Gravenhurst Centennial Arena.

Colaiacovo and Kronwall were not included on the 23-man roster submitted by the Leafs to the league yesterday afternoon, but that does not exclude them from playing against Ottawa.

"I was told to be ready just in case," Colaiacovo said last night.

With only four healthy defencemen on board -- incumbents Tomas Kaberle and Bryan McCabe, newcomer Alexander Khavanov and rookie Andy Wozniewski -- the Toronto blue line remains in a state of flux.

The determining factor will take place today when the physical status of Belak, Klee and Berg is reviewed.

Suffering from a spider bite that caused swelling of the right ankle and foot, Belak was told by a doctor yesterday to set his sights on a return Saturday versus Montreal.

"I won't play (against Ottawa)," Belak said. "They don't want the infection to spread (or) it could be three more weeks.

"At least I think Aki might be able to go."

Berg has been slowed by a painful rib injury throughout camp.

As for Klee, he completed a full workout with his teammates for the second consecutive morning and has not ruled out playing in the opener, although Quinn said, "two days really is not enough when you've missed 20 or 21."

Klee is on injured reserve but could be activated in time for the curtain-raiser tonight, a move that would fill the 23rd slot on the roster. If he isn't, the Leafs could call up one of the kids to take his spot.

If both Colaiacovo and Kronwall are summoned, however, either Belak or Berg would have to be put on injured reserve in order to create one more opening on the roster.

Meanwhile, promising forward Kyle Wellwood was returned to the Marlies. Forwards Clarke Wilm and Nathan Perrott could be lost on waivers if assigned to the Marlies, leaving Wellwood the odd man out.


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