Steen back at practice

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 1:12 PM ET

Alex Steen hopes he'll be able to play against the Dallas Stars tomorrow night.

Not so for Staffan Kronwall, the young defenceman who still is recovering from a knee injury.

Suffering from that ever-nagging "upper-body injury" -- some observers suspect it might be a shoulder but Steen wouldn't bite when quizzed about it -- the Swedish rookie stepped on to the ice at 12:01 p.m. yesterday, some 61 minutes after practice had started. His arrival was greeted with mocking hoots from his teammates, who slammed their sticks on the ice in a hockey version of the Bronx cheer.

"I talked to the medical staff and they gave me the okay to have a full practice (today)," Steen said, adding that his "mysterious" injury was suffered eight days ago in Atlanta against the Thrashers.

"You miss one or two practices and you have to start skating hard again to get your wind back."

Kronwall, meanwhile, does not even know if he'll be able to take part in contact drills today.

"I don't think I'll be ready (for Dallas)," he said. "I don't think it would be fair to me, my teammates or the fans. We'll see after Sunday's practice.

"I definitely want to be ready for (Dec. 17 vs. Ottawa)."

ESPO AND THE EAGLE

When Eddie Belfour tied Terry Sawchuk for second place on the goaltenders' career wins list 11 days ago, he received a congratulatory telegram from Hall of Famer Tony Esposito.

"I'm a fan of Eddie Belfour," Esposito told NHL.com. "I met him in Chicago and I've met with him several times over the years.

"He's the reason Toronto has so many points this season."

Said Belfour: "When I was in the third grade, I drew two large posters of Tony Esposito and did a report on him. I entered it in the Carman, Manitoba Fair, where I grew up. It won first prize, which was $5 at the time. I always had a real fascination about Tony Esposito and goaltending. He was always my favourite.

"So, when I became a (Chicago) Blackhawk, that was really neat for me. I was there when they retired the jerseys of Tony Esposito, Stan Mikita, Bobby Hull and Glenn Hall and put them up in the rafters at old Chicago Stadium. That was awesome. The fans in Chicago Stadium were second to none. It was really an emotional night."


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