With an estimated 16,000 screaming school kids taking in the Maple Leafs morning skate yesterday, Kyle Wellwood took part in his first full practice since undergoing surgery for a sports hernia six weeks ago.
Once the workout was over, Wellwood said he is aiming to return to the lineup for the Leafs home date next Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
"It's going to be a week, I think. A week today, and I should be able to play," Wellwood proclaimed.
Wellwood has not played a game since Dec. 19.
"Definitely the cardio is the hardest part when you've been out so long," he said. "I've even lost five lbs., but that should not be a problem.
"I think I was fine out there. Handling the puck went fine. But practice is always different from games."
Of course, with all the children in attendance, this was no ordinary workout.
"In that way, it kind of was like a game with everyone cheering," he said.
The kids were on hand yesterday for "A Celebration of Learning," a part of the Leafs@School campaign.
The web-based program, geared for students from Grades 4 through 6, is aimed at making learning fun by using hockey in relation to core school subjects.
The program incorporates three key lesson plans -- math with Mats Sundin, language with Michael Peca and nutrition with Bryan McCabe.
"It was a loud building this morning -- probably louder than a lot of our regular games," forward Darcy Tucker said. "That just shows you how excited the kids were."
THE DOCTOR'S OFFICE
Sidelined defenceman Tomas Kaberle met with Leaf medical officials at the Air Canada Centre last night. "I don't think we'll really know anything further until the end of the week," general manager John Ferguson said of his concussed defenceman.
Meanwhile forward Kris Newbury yesterday skated for the second time since suffering a concussion against Pittsburgh on Feb. 10. "I haven't had any headaches or symptoms in a week, so hopefully I'll be back soon," he said.