Two able to help Marlies

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:41 AM ET

Should the Leafs not make the National Hockey League playoffs, only current Leafs forward Ben Ondrus and goaltender Jean-Sebastien Aubin will be eligible to join the Marlies in the American Hockey League playoffs.

Injured defencemen Carlo Colaiacovo (concussion) and Andy Wozniewski (shoulder) both were hurt as members of the Leafs and went through the deadline on the main roster.

The Marlies, who defeated the Iowa Stars 4-1 yesterday, are off until Saturday.

ON WITH THE SHOW

The Leafs were spared the agony of scoreboard watching last night at Mellon Arena, when the lone game that had an impact on their playoff hopes ended before they took to the ice. The New York Islanders lost 5-2 to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"If you put yourself through scoreboard watching, you're just putting yourself through mental cruelty," Leafs winger Jeff O'Neill said.

"As hard as it is to do, you just have to take it a game at a time. We're getting to a point where we're into must-win games. It's tough not to get into scoreboard-watching when we get a break (such as Saturday) with a lot of teams not winning. But things like that will happen every night."

Analyst Harry Neale noted the only time clubs can escape such distractions is during the Stanley Cup final.

"No out-of-town games is the sign of a good year," Neale said.

TAX RELIEF FOR PENS?

After hitting a stone wall for six years in their quest to get the Pennsylvania government to bear some of the cost of a badly needed new arena -- as was the case for new homes for Pittsburgh's other pro sports teams -- there now are rumblings the money could yet be made available to the Pens through special taxes on tourism and conventions.

The change of heart could be linked to the state's desire to see a casino operating company -- one that is a rival to the Penguins' potential slots partner -- get the approval to a downtown redevelopment.

The team's lease at Mellon Arena expires in the summer of 2007 and a year prior to that the club is permitted to begin discussions with out-of-state suitors such as Kansas City. But it seems now that the new arena will be built through public or private funds.


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