Maurice happy for O'Neill

LANCE HORNBY and TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:06 AM ET

Few people were as happy to see Jeff O'Neill score his first goal as a Maple Leaf as Paul Maurice.

The Toronto Marlies coach had O'Neill for years when both were with the Carolina Hurricanes franchise.

"I was really hoping during that game that he could get one just so he would not have to think about 'When is my first one coming,' " Maurice said.

"He really cares about his play and about his production. When you tie in playing in front of his home crowd and his family and the tragic events of the summer (the passing of O'Neill's brother Don in an automobile accident), I was really happy for him."

Taking a breather

Perhaps no Maple Leaf needed the day off yesterday more than forward Matt Stajan, whose efforts to solidify his place in the lineup began back in August and continued through the exhibition schedule and Toronto's first four regular-season matches.

"I had to play in seven of the eight pre-season games, so I'll really enjoy it," Stajan said Tuesday night after his role in dumping the Philadelphia Flyers.

Stajan has been seeing plenty of penalty killing duties with Alex Steen and some power-play time with Kyle Wellwood.

"A day of rest is as good as a practice," Stajan said of yesterday's first team break since training camp began a month ago. "We have three games in four nights coming up. We'll put the hard hat on and get back to practice Thursday and re-focus for our road trip."

Leaving the farm

Wellwood felt bad that his break with the Leafs came through Mats Sundin's injury, but he has made the most of the chance. He collected his first NHL goal against the Flyers.

"I've just been fortunate to get opportunities," he said. "A lot of guys in the minors don't get that. Just to come up and get to play and get some power-play time is really nice.

"There are nights when you feel adjusted and there are nights where you feel you're doing things too quickly and not handling the puck the right way."

Wellwood was the last forward cut, but was recalled before he played a game with the Marlies.


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