Family matters luring Berg back home

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:01 AM ET

MONTREAL -- Beleaguered Maple Leafs defenceman Aki Berg confirmed last night that he will consider retiring from the NHL during the off-season.

Given the fact that the 28-year-old veteran has become a whipping boy for the Maple Leafs nation, we can almost hear the cheering, now.

Truth be told, the fact that he is contemplating a permanent return to his native Finland has nothing to do with the struggles he and partner Luke Richardson endured during the Leafs' 5-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre last night.

It has everything to do with the fact that he would like his son Nicklas, 3 1/2, and daughter Nella, 1, to grow up in the culture of their father's homeland.

"That's the thing -- it's family reasons," Berg said.

"But I don't want this to be the focus right now. We have a lot of important games coming up and that has to be the No. 1 and only concern."

Berg said he would look to continue playing in the Finnish Elite league, should that end up being the route he opts to take.

"There are so many reasons (for returning to Finland) but that stuff can wait until after the season," he said. "It's not an issue, right now."

What is an issue is how he and Richardson must avoid a repeat of their horrific shift early in the game, one in which the Canadiens scored twice in 12 seconds to take a 2-0 lead.

"We have to be better in our own end -- all of us," Berg said.

Richardson made no excuses.

"When you're down early like that, it's hard to change the momentum," he said. "We have a bad feeling right now and we don't want to repeat it (tomorrow)."


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