Pohl 'absolutely' could play

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:07 AM ET

John Pohl hopes his three-game absence from the Maple Leafs lineup comes to an end tonight.

Especially with his dad Jim sitting up in a Wachovia Center suite.

"It felt good out there. I have no complaints," Pohl said yesterday.

Had there been a game last night, Pohl said he would have been ready.

"I could play. Absolutely," he said.

Pohl has been bothered by back spasms which flared up seven days ago prior to a game in St. Louis.

"I was just stretching and something gave out," he said. "It has taken almost a week to settle down."

BIRTHDAY BONUS

Ralph McCabe, father of Leafs defenceman Bryan McCabe, got a neat present for his 60th birthday.

A chance to travel with his son on the team charter to Philadelphia with some of the other players' dads for the game tonight against the Flyers.

A year ago, Ralph had the opportunity to join Bryan and the rest of Team Canada on the jet that made its way to the Olympics in Turin, Italy.

"It was nice to meet the other parents and some of the players I'd seen on TV for a few years," Ralph recalled. "It's a different way of life in Italy."

Ralph said there would be no Leafs jerseys worn to the game.

"In Philly? I don't think so," he said. "We've got to be nice and show a bit of class."

KEEN STEEN

Aside from John Ferguson Sr., the one father among the group who likely found travelling on the team charter to be old hat was ex-Winnipeg Jet Thomas Steen, dad of Leafs forward Alex Steen.

"(Then again), I don't know if they had chartered planes in Winnipeg," Alex said." I don't know if they had much money in that organization. It's a small city."

LOOSE LEAFS

Coach Paul Maurice said that forward Kris Newbury (head) could resume practising as early as Sunday ... Told that Russian teammate Alexei Ponikarovsky now has his own website, Wade Belak couldn't help himself. "Did you hear? The first 100 subscribers get free perogies," Belak joked.


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