Stajan earning more ice time

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:09 AM ET

Paul Maurice didn't like what he saw in Matt Stajan in training camp.

But a couple of months later, he has seen much improvement in the 22-year-old forward.

"I didn't think he was great in camp," Maurice said. "There was a really big adjustment curve for him with the new style of game and to his credit, he made the adjustment. It was not coaching."

Where, in Maurice's eyes, has Stajan taken strides?

"We asked him to do a bunch of things," the Maple Leafs coach said. "Just being tougher and harder on the puck and what has happened is he is now handling it better. He is creating things and his confidence level is higher."

Stajan, who has 13 points (five goals and eight assists) in 19 games after putting up 27 points in each of his first two NHL seasons, acknowledged that camp was not a great experience.

"Maybe I did not know what to expect with a new coach, I was squeezing my stick too tight, maybe trying to do a little too much," Stajan said. "I feel more comfortable out there now."

Stajan has seen his ice time jump to an average of 16 minutes, 19 seconds this season from 11 minutes, 38 seconds in 2005-06. That's huge. Not only has Stajan demonstrated he is deserving of the increased role, he is happy with greater responsibility.

"When you play that many more minutes, it's a good feeling, for sure," Stajan said. "I have a job to do. My line has to make a difference. You know the top line is going to score, and you know what Michael Peca's line is going to do. Our line has to go out there and put in the extra goals and play defence."

GO FORTH AND ...

After the Leafs had Monday off, a large group of media was waiting for Maurice as he trekked into the hallway outside the Leafs dressing room.

"What's going on?" Maurice said. "Has there been a multiplication of you people here?"


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