Kubina back on skates

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:45 AM ET

Hard to tell who could miss defenceman Pavel Kubina the most.

The Maple Leafs, who were benefitting from his improved play before his knee injury, or his baby daughter Tereza, about to lose her constant playmate after an unscheduled three-week hiatus in his hockey season.

It was back to the day job for Kubina yesterday, his first on skates after a Nov. 10 right MCL mishap in a game against the Rangers. He wore the gaudy gold sweater marking an injured Leaf, but kept up with the pack at Lakeshore Lions Arena and could play as early as Tuesday against Nashville. Coach Paul Maurice suspected the quick-healing Czech would beat the Dec. 10 target date to return.

"Three hard days of (off-ice) practice and no pain," Maurice said of green- lighting Kubina. "We're hoping mid-week for a full contact practice and go from there."

Just before Kubina was hurt, the Leafs were 7-7-3, but they went 2-4-3 in his absence. He was almost halfway to last year's point total of 21 and playing close to 25 minutes a night.

"It's hard when you're hurt at any time," Kubina said. "But I kept my head up."

Tereza just turned one year old and Kubina joked that she gives him workouts as tough as assistant coach Keith Acton's notorious post-practice skating drills.

"Her favourite toy is a soccer ball, her first word was 'soccer ball,' " Kubina said. "But any time you can spend at home in the season is good. She loves her books and she makes me smile."

The likely candidate to be dropped from the blueline when Kubina returns is Staffan Kronwall.


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