Bell on the bubble

TERRY KOSHAN

, Last Updated: 9:27 AM ET

Brendan Bell is on the clock, and he knows it.

The Maple Leafs rookie defenceman skated in his 27th game of the season last night against Montreal.

But with Ian White, who has been nursing a slight separation in his left shoulder, slated to return to the lineup Tuesday night against the Carolina Hurricanes, it's probable Bell will sit.

But the 23-year-old Bell, who has one goal and four assists, was trying to put a positive spin on his situation.

"I've earned the spot where I am (in the lineup), absolutely," Bell said. "But we have a lot of good defencemen on this team and to jump ahead of someone or take someone's minutes, you really have to prove yourself. I think I have earned what I have but I am still pushing for more."

When White, defenceman Andy Wozniewski and Darcy Tucker eventually return from injuries, the Leafs will be at the 23-man roster limit. So the Leafs would not have to worry about losing Bell on waivers.

"There are not any plans for (sending Bell down)," general manager John Ferguson said. "He has stepped in and done a good job."

Said coach Paul Maurice: "Brendan hasn't done anything to deserve coming out of the lineup. At the same time, the question will be if Brendan, or Carlo Colaiacovo for that matter, has done enough to warrant not getting a guy like Ian back in."

BRIEFLY

CBC play-by-play man Bob Cole is recovering from a knee procedure and colonoscopy and is expected back in the Hockey Night in Canada booth next Saturday. Jim Hughson called the Leafs-Habs game last night ... Among the spectators at the Air Canada Centre was John Ferguson Sr., who continues chemotherapy treatments in his fight against bone cancer. The father of the Leafs general manager is due for another chemo treatment Friday in Toronto ... Maurice doesn't care what seed the Leafs might have in the playoffs, just that they get there. "Let's be clear. There is only one seed in the playoffs. You are either in or you are out."


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