Sundin feeling better

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:02 AM ET

Captain Mats Sundin was seeing out of his damaged left eye well enough yesterday to drive himself to Maple Leafs practice at Lakeshore Lions Arena.

He hoped to get further clearance from doctors yesterday to increase his off-ice workload and perhaps begin light skating.

"I'm feeling a lot better," Sundin said yesterday as he pulled into the arena. "We'll see what they tell me."

Sundin, who had needed a driver after his lower left orbital bone was broken by a puck in the season-opening loss to the Ottawa Senators on Oct. 5, is expected to miss at least another couple of weeks, though no operation is anticipated, which would have certainly backed up his return until late November.

Three players did not participate in practice yesterday: Goalie Ed Belfour, winger Nik Antropov and centre Chad Kilger. Belfour and Antropov were given an extra day off, while Kilger has a bruised foot from Friday's game in Atlanta.

Leafs equipment man Scott McKay once more took Belfour's place opposite Mikael Tellqvist, a week after McKay's mask was cracked by a shot in practice.

The 500 Club

Saturday's game against the Philadelphia Flyers will mark Pat Quinn's 500th game as the Maple Leafs coach. Only Punch Imlach (760) and Hap Day (546) have reached that milestone. Twenty-one other men were not as fortunate behind the Toronto bench.

"I've never understood why," Quinn said of the unwritten rule that coaches pay the ultimate price when a team struggles. "We have a lot of really good coaches in the league."

Quinn praised the Leafs organization for believing in "continuity."

Gone to the dogs

Winger Jeff O'Neill brought his two English Bulldogs, Vern and Podgee, into the dressing room at Lakeshore Lions yesterday. They had a fine time chewing on hockey socks, pads and skate insoles.

The dogs were acquired from a breeder in Raleigh, N.C., when O'Neill played for the Hurricanes, hence their southern monikers.

"Podgee is like a term for 'buddy' down there," O'Neill said.


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