Kubina pulls for Hingis

LANCE HORNBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:52 AM ET

Pavel Kubina was saddened to hear of the fall of tennis star Martina Hingis, his one-time girlfriend, who retired last week amid testing positive for cocaine at Wimbledon.

The Maple Leafs defenceman dated her about six months early in his career with the Tampa Bay Lightning when both lived in Florida's posh Hillsborough County enclave of Saddlebrook, home to many pro athletes. Hingis, winner of five Grand Slams, came to some of the Lightning's home games then.

"I only know what I've read in the papers," Kubina said of her recent problems. "I've not talked to her in years, but she was a good person and a great athlete, the top in her sport for a long time."

CAREER OPPORTUNITIES

Today should be one of the more intense practices of the season at Lakeshore Lions Arena, with as many as three players eager to get back in the lineup for tomorrow's game in Ottawa.

Mark Bell's suspension is over, Kyle Wellwood is set to make his season debut and Darcy Tucker will test the healing capacity of his right knee ligament.

That's the equivalent of a full line that coach Paul Maurice is ready to put back in. Carrying only winger Bates Battaglia as an extra the past two games, the Leafs conceivably could activate two and stay at the league minimum roster of 23, while the odd man out for demotion appears to be Battaglia or forward Simon Gamache, if they clear waivers.

"I have to make sure I don't hurt it again," Wellwood said of the extra time spent conditioning after two off-season hernia operations. "I came back (from the first operation) and played as hard as I could and it just kept inflaming."

With Bryan McCabe's strained groin muscle slow to respond, there's a chance Bell might see power-play point duty if Maurice sticks with a plan to audition new players.

KILGER IS A HIT

Winger Chad Kilger had 11 of Toronto's 23 hits in Saturday's physical game, while every Montreal player except Saku Koivu and Patrice Brisebois had at least one hit.


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