Defenceman Carlo Colaiacovo and centre Kyle Wellwood will open the season on the NHL's injured reserve list as the Leafs filed their 23-man roster with the NHL.
Coach Paul Maurice roughly pegged Colaiacovo's return in the next one to two weeks as the preferred six-month wait time from arthroscopic knee surgery approaches.
Wellwood requires a three-week recovery from a second sports hernia procedure and is also likely coming back in two weeks or less.
The Leafs retained all six players they placed on waivers, firming up the AHL Marlies farm team. Goaltender Scott Clemmensen, defenceman Jay Harrison and forwards Ben Ondrus, Simon Gamache, Tony Salmelainen and Jeremy Williams were demoted yesterday.
As expected, Mark Bell's 15-game NHL suspension will commence tonight with Toronto's first game. The forward was cleared from Stage Two of the NHL-NHLPA Subtsance Abuse and Behavioral Program.
"We have received notification to that effect," general manager John Ferguson said yesterday.
Bell has claimed an oath of sobriety going back a year.
Maurice does not believe that Bell, and his future jail term for an alcohol-related hit-and-run in 2006, will be a distraction to the team.
"A month ago, it would have been a big story, but not now," the coach said.
HARRY FINISH FOR BOWEN
Though sworn to secercy about Harry Neale's departure friom mid-week Leaf telecasts, Joe Bowen felt some kind of on-air message was appropriate on Saturday in Detroit.
"As the game ended, I just told him: 'It's been an honour and a blast,' " Bowen said. "There were some tears in the parking lot afterwards. He was a real class act, a guy I knew would always tell me and the viewers what happened and why in a way that was knowledgable and often very funny."
Neale is going to work Buffalo Sabres games, closer to his adopted home.
"It wasn't fair that the (media) critics kept lumping him in with people they thought were too old," Bowen said. "But he was a guy who took it without saying anything. He'll be missed, but at the same time, he's 70 and deserves that break from driving to Toronto."