Carlo is almost there

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:19 AM ET

ATLANTA -- Carlo Colaiacovo wants to shut up the naysayers -- the ones who claim he will never make it in the NHL because he is too injury-prone.

"Definitely it's a motivating factor for me," the Maple Leafs defenceman said in a phone interview yesterday. "The critics, the comments, it's all been mentioned in the media and throughout the hockey world.

"Everybody has their opinion. At least the organization has been behind me. I can't say enough about the support they have given me.

"I plan to be back in the NHL. That hasn't changed."

Colaiacovo does not deny he has suffered more than his share of ailments. Sure, there have been the standard muscle pulls and tears, but he has also experienced some bizarre injuries, too.

There was the time in St. John's, for example, that he was nailed on the side of the head by a shot while playing for the Baby Leafs, and wound up deaf in one ear for more than a month.

But that's nothing compared to 2006.

"Honestly, this has been the toughest year of my life," he said.


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