Fallen Leafs Need Practice

LANCE HORNBY

, Last Updated: 8:17 AM ET

The various wait times for slow-healing Carlo Colaiacovo to get healthy usually have been worth it, but the defenceman couldn't hide his disappointment at yet another setback yesterday.

Colaiacovo has developed pain in his surgically repaired right knee just a day before the club had considered activating him for his first game of the season.

"I don't want to hurt the team for selfish reasons when we have six healthy guys," Colaiacovo said after practice at Lakeshore Lions Arena. "But I'm dying to get back in there."

Centre Kyle Wellwood was not even in uniform yesterday, meaning he might not be making his hoped-for first appearance tonight, either. He had been almost recovered from a second surgery on a sports hernia three weeks ago.

"He came in stiff and sore today," coach Paul Maurice said. "And when he's sore, we leave him alone. They won't be playing until they can get through a practice. With Carlo (dogged by a series of injuries since becoming a Leaf), part of being a pro is learning to handle adversity."

Colaiacovo said he was not setting a firm target date for next week, but the Leafs likely will take extra bodies on their road trip next weekend.

LITTLE BIG MEN

Maurice said he's not really expecting his smaller players to take on bigger men in physical confrontations to hold their place in the lineup. The Leafs demoted Kris Newbury this week, retained Simon Gamache and have Wellwood in reserve. All are between 5-9 and 5-10 and between 180-200 pounds. Gamache has points in three of his four games.

"They have to be on the puck, and not be there a second late," Maurice said. "I'm not looking for them to run guys through the boards. Chad Kilger (6-4, 234 pounds) tried to do that to everyone (on the Florida Panthers) on one shift the other night. But the more physical big guys are, the less the little guys have to be."

Mark Bell is now halfway through his 15-game suspension and Maurice says he might use him at first chance when he's eligible on Nov. 6 against Ottawa.


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