Murphy feels Leaf pain

LANCE HORNBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:21 AM ET

No less an authority on abusive Toronto fans than Larry Murphy hopes Bryan McCabe can put the booing behind him.

"Just focus on your game, make it simple," said Murphy, a big-ticket defenceman who often ran afoul of an impatient Gardens crowd between 1995-97. "One year they booed me pretty good, I went and played in the all-star game and I came back and they booed me again the next home game.

"I think the booing can affect the whole team, but I consider Bryan a very skilled defenceman. The fans in Toronto can get on you, but deep down, they just want to win."

Murphy was averaging about $2 million US a year with the Leafs, but as they fell out of the playoff race in '97, he found it tough to take the nightly bashing. He was traded to the Red Wings at the deadline and helped them win a Cup, solidifying his selection to the Hall of Fame. He now is a broadcaster with Fox and TSN.

Paul Maurice summed up the media/fan maelstrom around McCabe's own goal in Buffalo in abstract terms.

"Not to be insensitive to crime statistics in Toronto, but this is like a drive-by shooting where Bryan is concerned," the Maple Leafs 0coach said.

Another target of Toronto boo-birds, Andrew Raycroft, added his support for McCabe.

"Between Bryan and I, we get booed more than anyone in the league," the goalie said, forgiving his teammate for what he considered an honest mistake into his own net. "There's nothing we can do."

WELLWOOD DOING WELL

An hour and 15-minute practice didn't cause centre Kyle Wellwood any problems as he targets this Saturday's game against Chicago for his season debut.

"Full speed, no pain," said Wellwood, coming off his second hernia surgery

Winger Alexei Ponikarovsky (ankle) could be back by tomorrow's game against Florida. Maurice wants him as part of a shutdown line with Nik Antropov.

A DAOUST RUN

Newcomer Simon Gamache has at least a point in his first three games as a Leaf. Owen Nolan had six goals and two assists in his first six outings here in March of 2003, but the record since 1980 is a nine-game streak by Dan Daoust in 1982-83.


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