Leafs could ring Bell again

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:38 AM ET

Brendan Bell is gone, but not forgotten by the Leafs.

Returned to the Marlies as required yesterday by a one-day grace period when Wade Belak's wife gave birth, Bell did well in a 3-2 win over Carolina on Tuesday, his NHL debut.

Coach Pat Quinn believes Bell could be further along in his development than Andy Woznieweski, Carlo Colaiacovo, Jay Harrison and Staffan Kronwall, all defencemen who saw time in the NHL this year.

"Bell was ranked behind the others, but that was the best I've seen him play in our organization," Quinn said yesterday. The Leafs have two of their four post trade deadline callups left after using forwards Ben Ondrus and Aleksander Suglobov.

BALLARD WOULD BE PROUD

Now this is what Luke Richardson loved most about being a Leaf. A late playoff push after a mediocre regular season, just like his first four years in Toronto in the late 1980s.

"You can feel the atmosphere in Toronto when they sense something good is happening," Richardson said. "I always remember the day the playoff tickets went on sale at the Gardens. There was a lineup around the corner.

"The team always feeds off the crowd and the crowd off the team. Sometimes when things aren't going well, it's tough because they expect a lot. But that's part of the fun."

ADDICTED TO POWER

Wherever the Leafs finish, they'll need more even -strength goals to get there.

Remarkably, the club's past nine goals have been either through power play or penalty shot.

"Everyone's talking about us having difficulty 5-on-5 and yes, it's hard," Darcy Tucker said. "But we have to rely on playing in tight-checking close games to get in the playoffs. We can't rely on trying to run and gun with everybody."

WADE'S WORLD OF GIRL GOLFERS

With the birth of seven-pound Alex Grace, Belak now has two baby daughters. Asked if this were a plan to stock the Canadian women's Olympic hockey team for the 2026 Games, Belak insisted his girls would be taking up golf.

"There's more money in that," he said. "I'm looking to be the next Earl Woods. I'm going to get them swinging clubs in the next couple of weeks."


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