Acton thinking of Kessel

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:38 AM ET

Leafs assistant coach Keith Acton is keeping Boston Bruins rookie Phil Kessel in his thoughts after the latter underwent surgery for testicular cancer last month. Acton has recovered from a bout with the same condition in 2002.

Kessel has resumed skating in the Boston area, but has held only one media briefing after the operation, in which doctors said the cancer had not spread.

"I just know what I've read about him, but it's not a fun thing," Acton said yesterday. "The key for me was a great support team, of doctors and of my family.

"I feel really good about my situation. It has been five years now and they still keep a close eye on you, but the longer you go and nothing shows up again, that's really positive. So I'm really confident I have it behind me and I feel lucky and thrilled about that."

Acton was in his early 40s when he was diagnosed, Kessel is 19. Both were at the extreme age ranges to develop this form of cancer.

GETTING HEALTHIER

The Leafs had a few more of their injured players on the ice yesterday morning, an encouraging sign for a team missing six regulars on the weekend. Winger Darcy Tucker came back last night and defenceman Carlo Colaiacovo (flu) made the most progress.

"I got a few good meals in me and I'm pretty much over it now," Colaiacovo said. "It was some sort of stomach virus or flu that hit me pretty hard."

Missing the last game of 2006 seemed fitting for Colaiacovo, who missed most of 2006 in a long battle overcoming a concussion.

"I hope 2007 is a better year for me," he said. "I'm looking forward to a fresh start, especially for the team. It's a new team and new year and we want to kick it off with a win (against Boston)."

Forward Kyle Wellwood (groin/hip flexor) looked much better, too, after taking a few extra games off.

"There's a chance I'll play Thursday (in Boston), but I'm looking more at Saturday (against Buffalo)," Wellwood said. "The pain is starting to subside a bit."

Winger Alexei Ponikarovsky (separated shoulder) and defenceman Andy Wozniewski (separated shoulder) also are working out on the ice.


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