Hard work pays off for Bell

MIKE ZEISBERGER

, Last Updated: 1:31 PM ET

Brendan Bell's patience finally paid off.

After spending the previous six games as a healthy scratch, the rookie defenceman was finally back in the lineup as the Maple Leafs took on the Montreal Canadiens last night at the Bell Centre.

Bell had not suited up since a 2-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils at the Air Canada Centre back on Nov. 20. After that defeat, coach Paul Maurice noted that Bell's game had digressed a bit.

"It's tough for anyone when you are not playing," Bell said yesterday. "But I knew if I kept working hard in practice, things would come around.

"Paul didn't scold me or anything, he just gave me some positives about how my game could improve. He just reiterated what I needed to do to be a successful player."

COLAIACOVO UPDATE

Because the Leafs roster is at 22 right now -- one below the limit -- the team has room to call up defenceman Carlo Colaiacovo without having to move another body, general manager John Ferguson said.

Colaiacovo has two assists in the first two games of his three-game conditioning stint. He is scheduled to play for the Marlies today, then will wait to see if he is summoned up to the parent club.

"He's played well," Ferguson said. "When the (conditioning stint) expires, the expectation is that he'll be here."

Ferguson was on hand to watch the Marlies' 3-2 victory over Hamilton on Friday night, a game which marked the Toronto debut of Tyson Nash.

"He came as advertised," Ferguson said of the feisty Nash. "He made three big hits early in the game."

LOOSE LEAFS

Ferguson will represent the Leafs at the Board of Governors meetings in Palm Beach this week. He said the Leafs will push for a schedule that features more games against western Canadian teams and the Detroit Red Wings ... Having played at the Spengler Cup, Bell and Ian White feel Pat Quinn will have a great time coaching Team Canada there. "It's like being at a European soccer game except there are fewer people in the stands," White said.


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