Say it ain't so, Kyle

MIKE ZEISBERGER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:21 AM ET

BOSTON -- This is quickly turning into a September to remember for the Maple Leafs for all the wrong reasons.

Less than three weeks after forward Mark Bell was slapped with a 15-game suspension from the NHL, it now appears that Kyle Wellwood's nagging groin injury might be more serious than originally suspected.

Surgery might be a realistic option for the young forward, who already underwent a sports hernia operation earlier this year.

Because tests revealed yesterday that Wellwood might have a potentially significant problem in the same area again, expect the Leafs to take every precaution in their quest to discover whether another operation is in the cards for Wellwood, who has experienced similar symptoms to those that caused him to miss almost half of the 2006-07 season.

CHAOS

Even if he doesn't go under the knife, significant healing time could be required, leaving the Leafs' off-season plans up the middle in a state of chaos.

Under the ideal scenario, the Leafs had pencilled in Wellwood to be their No. 2 centre and were hoping to move Bell from the wing into the No. 3 centre's role.

Now, with the potential hole up the middle staring them in the face, coach Paul Maurice might be forced to shift candidates like Alex Steen and Chad Kilger to centre. Both have played there for brief stints thus far in the pre-season.

Either way, the door is open for Matt Stajan to see increased ice time.

Simon Gamache, who has shown impressive flashes in camp, might also be a candidate.

Alex Steen has been drawing rave reviews in training camp. Maurice has remarked on his speed and that he looks bigger and stronger. Maybe he just looks more svelte after dropping the visor. "I took it off this summer. What's the big deal?" Steen said, getting a tad testy.


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