Bell wearing a Leaf and a snarl

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:52 AM ET

Brendan Bell would like to be coming back to Ottawa with a smile on his face, but ...

"To a man, I don't think anybody is happy with the effort we put forth (Tuesday night)," said the Maple Leafs rookie defenceman, who will be playing his first NHL game in his hometown tonight. "We're going to go in there with a snarl on now."

The former 67's captain played a career-high 19 minutes and wound up even on the night Tuesday as the Leafs were outclassed 6-2 by the Senators in Toronto.

After three years in the AHL, the 23-year-old Bell has finally earned a spot on the Leafs' blue line.

He missed a chunk of training camp and the first five games of the season with a lacerated calf from a pre-season slash by Senators winger Dany Heatley.

But now friends and family (who still live in the Mooney's Bay area) will finally get a chance to go to Scotiabank Place and see him play in an NHL sweater tonight.

"It's going to be fun," said Bell, the Leafs' third pick (65th overall) in 2001, "How many family and friends will be there? I couldn't even guess. There'll be a lot.

"I worked for this. Now I've got to make the most of it."

Bell said the game would probably mean the most to his dad, Les.

"I think he's going to be on the edge of his seat," said Bell, "if he's sitting in it at all."


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