Boyd Devereaux admits he was scared.
It was just two days before the official start of training camp, and a small skin irritation on his foot suddenly has swelled into a ballooning infection that started eerily creeping up his shin.
"It happened so quick," he recalled last night. "I had headaches, there was pain, I didn't know what was going on. Fortunately the doctors acted quickly and, by that night, I was on IVs.
"I don't know how it started. I had a small cut on my toe, so maybe that was it."
With the ailment finally under control, Devereaux finally will make his pre-season debut tonight when the Maple Leafs host the Buffalo Sabres.
Having missed most of training camp because of the infection, he has been skating for the past three days, using a pad in his skate to help offset any discomfort.
"It's tolerable," Devereaux said. "I'm ready to go. I do feel a bit anxious."
Devereaux will be on a line with Matt Stajan and Alex Steen, a unit that could very well be intact for the season opener against rival Ottawa in seven days.
IN GREAT SHAPE
"It's a line that can play both ways -- offensively and defensively," coach Paul Maurice said. "Matt and Alex have had very good camps, and Boyd came here from the summer in great shape."
With centres Mark Bell and Kyle Wellwood out of the lineup for the start of the regular season, Maurice is leaning toward Chad Kilger, John Pohl and Stajan to pick up the slack up the middle
Another option for Maurice is Steen, who was working on his faceoff skills during practice at Lakeshore Lions Arena.
"It has been two or three years since I played centre, although I've played half a game here, half a game there," Steen said.
"It's up the coaches. If I get the opportunity, great. I enjoy both positions."