State of the union

LANCE HORNBY and MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:51 AM ET

Matt Stajan and Chris Phillips met on the ice last night just two days after the respective player reps for the Senators and Leafs were on a union conference call, dealing in part with picking a new executive director.

"These things take time," Stajan said of the update the reps were given from the search committee. "They're interviewing people and will be talking to more people."

Phlllips said no specific names were leaked by the committee.

The players hope to have Ted Saskin's replacement selected before Christmas.

A THRILL ON NEWBURY HILL

Last night wasn't Kris Newbury's first game as a Leaf, but the first in which he earned his spot in training camp.

"This is a big step for me," the scrappy fourth-line centre said. "But now I have to move on from it."

The Brampton native secured seats for his father Barry and mother Brenda last night. Kris remembered them all sitting on the couch watching Hockey Night in Canada every Saturday.

"Wendel Clark, Cam Neely, Eric Lindros...anyone who liked to hit was my favourite player," Newbury said.

BELL ANXIOUS

Mark Bell can't wait for Nov. 6 to roll around.

Having been moved out of Stage 2 of the NHL/NHLPA Substance Abuse and Behavior Health Program yesterday, Bell began serving his 15-game suspension last night while his teammates were taking on the Senators.

He is eligible to return in six weeks when the Leafs meet the Sens in Ottawa, the same city in which Bell played junior for the 67s.

"I'm going to need a lot of tickets," Bell said yesterday. "I still have a lot of friends there, and I'm sure my family will want to come up to see my first game as a Leaf.

MUIR A MARLIE

Defenceman Bryan Muir has signed with the Toronto Marlies after his pro tryout contract expired. He could still factor with the Leafs later this year, pending injuries and a decision not to leave younger players in the press box.


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