Brown waits for chance

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:13 AM ET

Brad Brown is biding his time.

The veteran defenceman wishes injured Maple Leafs defenceman Pavel Kubina a swift recovery in his efforts to rehab a strained medial collateral ligament.

At the same time, Brown has been around long enough to know that injuries open up the door for other players to get an opportunity at the NHL level.

He just hopes he gets such a shot.

"I feel bad for Pavel," the Marlies defenceman said last night. "But maybe there will be a chance for me to earn a spot.

"From my standpoint the only thing I can do is control the way I play the game. I just hope for a shot.

"Once you are out of the NHL it is just so tough to get back in. Your chance may never come, you have to understand that, but if it does, you have to make an impression, one that will have management thinking that you belong."

Brown, 30, was a first-round pick of the Montreal Canadiens back in 1994. He had stints with the Canadiens, Chicago Blackhawks, New York Rangers, Minnesota Wild and Buffalo Sabres before playing 38 games for the Marlies a year ago.

"Last year I played hurt," Brown said. "This year I feel great. I feel healthy for the first time in a long time.

"I don't think it's a surprise that I want to get back into the NHL. That's why I worked so hard during the off-season. That is my goal, no doubt about it."

For the moment, Brown will remain with the Marlies. Maple Leafs coach Paul Maurice has opted to move Wade Belak back to defence, filling Kubina's spot on the blue line.

PONY UP

Alexei Ponikarovsky has provided plenty of fodder for the highlight reels of opposing goaltenders.

While he has just one goal thus far in this young season, Ponikarovsky has enjoyed seemingly countless numbers of point-blank scoring opportunities only to be robbed time and time again.

"It would be more frustrating if I wasn't getting any chances," he said. "At least I am getting opportunities. Sooner or later they will start going in."

Ponikarovsky is scheduled to play on a line with Matt Stajan and Jeff O'Neill when the Leafs meet the New Jersey Devils tomorrow night.


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