Tough enough

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:46 AM ET

Weren't Jason Allison and Eric Lindros supposed to be the brittle ones?

That was the prevailing suspicion this past summer when the Maple Leafs, attempting to fill the offensive void left by the departed Gary Roberts and Joe Nieuwendyk, brought in the two veterans with the medical histories.

Fears concerning the health of Allison and Lindros escalated in training camp when both missed time because of various bumps and bruises.

But through the early stages of this season, you'll only find their names among the NHL's leading scorers, not on the injury lists, as many predicted.

Roberts and Nieuwendyk are not as fortunate.

Both former Leafs missed the Florida Panthers' game against the New Jersey Devils last night. Roberts is on injured reserve with a groin ailment while Nieuwendyk suffered back spasms during a 4-0 loss to the New York Rangers Monday.

"I have to be smarter about getting the proper time to heal before I come back," Nieuwendyk said.

While hopeful Lindros and Allison can stay in one piece for the majority of the season, Leafs general manager John Ferguson was sympathetic to the plight of his two former players.

NOT GOOD

"No one likes to see Joe and Gary out," Ferguson said. "It's not good for them and it's not good for the game.

"In terms of Jason and Eric, they've really committed themselves to working on and off the ice. They have shown, as has the balance of the team, a willingness to pick up the slack in the absence of Mats (Sundin)."

Lindros tops the Leafs in goals with five, while Allison is among the league leaders in assists with six.

"I could see how outsiders would have questions about our health," Allison said. "But guys who haven't played for a while, guys who have been hurt, whatever, everyone has had a pretty good start.

"If you want to ask me about (Roberts and Nieuwendyk), my answer would be yes, (the Leafs) lost great players. But they got back a pair of point-a-game players and a former 40-goal scorer, so those aren't bad replacements."

Allison was referring to himself, Lindros and Jeff O'Neill, who missed a pair of games with a shoulder injury earlier this season.

If the Leafs are to be successful, all three must continue to hit the scoresheet, not the trainers room.


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