Leafs not taking chances with their injured

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:29 AM ET

MONTREAL -- The Maple Leafs brought 36 players with them for this weekend's two-game trip, but a group of injured remain at home in Toronto.

The swelling in defenceman Staffan Kronwall's sprained ankle has not yet subsided enough to get a full picture of the damage he suffered Friday when he went feet-first into the boards at the Air Canada Centre.

Also recuperating are defencemen Tomas Kaberle (groin pull), Pavel Kubina (hip flexor), Carlo Colaiacovo (headaches) and forwards Wade Belak and Ben Ondrus (bruises). Colaiacovo continues to be the major long-term concern, but general manager John Ferguson is hopeful that he'll be pain-free very soon and the only thing holding him back will be lack of conditioning compared to the rest of camp.

The Leafs brought along John Mitchell and Jaime Stifers from the Marlies camp, in case any of the players scheduled to play in both Montreal and Halifax were hurt.

FRENCH CONNECTION

Hopefully, Mike Johnson was paying attention in French class way back at Scarborough's Sir John A. Macdonald Collegiate.

The winger, now almost 32, has joined an interesting mix who've played on both sides of the oldest National Hockey League feud. Johnson, a Leaf between 1996-2000, joins the likes of Dick Duff, Dan Daoust, Bunny Larocque, Vince Damphousse, Gary Leeman, Shayne Corson, Wayne Thomas, Jonas Hoglund and Darcy Tucker. Johnson was traded by the Leafs to Tampa Bay with defenceman Marek Posmyk and mid-round draft choices for Tucker and a fourth-round pick in February of 2000.

Before arriving in Montreal, Johnson had put in a few years with the Phoenix Coyotes and spent the lockout in Farjestad, Sweden.

WRITE STUFF

The Montreal Gazette had an feel-good weekend feature on Hall of Famer Jean Beliveau's amazing streak of personal hand-written answers to every piece of fan mail sent to him since the early 1950s. Beliveau does not have a computer, typewriter or answering machine, nor has he changed his home number in years. He doesn't use his wife Elise's cellphone

"I guess today's players are always on their cellphones, calling their brokers," Beliveau joked to the paper.

He meets the mailman each day at the door of his home in Longueuil and just finished 19 days of overtime correspondence, replying to well wishers who sent him greetings on his 75th birthday on Aug. 31. When his address was posted on the Internet a few years ago, a surge of mail starting coming from abroad.

"Many of the people who sent me cards have been doing so for 20, 25 years, maybe more," Beliveau said.

He says he has a sixth sense for distinguishing who wants autographed photos and pucks as keepsakes as opposed to dealers trying to make a buck, but as a rule, he'll sign and return at least one of every item he gets.


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