Mats happy

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:55 AM ET

The ugly welts around his injured left eye have almost completely disappeared.

So, to, has the swelling, which pretty much sealed the eye completely shut after a puck smacked him in the face 16 days ago.

No wonder Maple Leafs captain Mats Sundin wore an omnipresent smile on his face as he toured the press box at the Air Canada Centre last night during the game between Toronto and the visiting Carolina Hurricanes.

"Yes I'm optimistic. Absolutely," Sundin said."It feels a lot better. It's improved a lot."

Sundin's good mood was fuelled by the examination he received from Dr. Stanley Chang on Wednesday. Sundin flew to New York to get a second opinion from Dr. Chang, the world-renowned eye specialist who has treated, among others, former Leaf Bryan Berard.

Sundin will be re-examined early next week to determine if retina surgery is required. Either way, he feels confident the real danger is in the past.

"It was nice to hear,"he said of Chang's diagnosis. "It put me at ease a bit.

"It had been frustrating at times. It's been a slow process, but they told me it would be."

During his healing process,Sundin has been impressed at the manner in which his teammates have rallied in his absence. Last night's 5-4 overtime victory over the Hurricanes was Toronto's fourth consecutive win.

"They've been great,"he said. "Look at the new guys. Eric(Lindros), Jeff (O'Neill) and Jason (Allison) have done an outstanding job and have given the fans plenty to be excited about."

Sundin was also complimentary of the Leafs' kiddie corps, a group that includes Matt Stajan, Alex Steen and Kyle Wellwood. Steen scored his third goal of the season last night while Stajan had a goal and an assist.

"Since I became a Leaf we really haven't had that injection of young blood like these guys that really brings energy in the room for all the veterans,"he said.

"There is a lot to look forward to."

Especially if the lanky Swede somehow can find his way back into the lineup in the next few weeks.


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