Williams stays up

MIKE ZEISBERGER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:41 AM ET

Trying unsuccessfully to keep from wincing, Jeremy Williams pointed to the stitches above his left eye, souvenirs left behind by the elbow of the Montreal Canadiens' Ryan O'Byrne on Saturday night.

"Not only are there 10 or 11 on the outside, there are four on the inside too," explained the young Maple Leafs forward, who was knocked out of the game momentarily by a blow that landed O'Byrne a five-minute major and a game misconduct.

"I don't completely remember the play," Williams said. "I tried a head fake, then, suddenly, I think I took a forearm. I didn't see it coming. When you get your bell rung like that, you have to excuse yourself for a second."

Coming from a rodeo family back in his native Saskatchewan, Williams will be in the lineup tonight when the Leafs play host to the Buffalo Sabres. Plans are for the hard-shooting winger to play the final three regular season games as part of his audition for a permanent lineup spot in 2008-09.

Unlike a handful of his teammates, however, Williams will not be joining the American Hockey League Marlies for their playoff run.

According to general manager Cliff Fletcher, Williams, 24, would have been eligible for the AHL post-season had the Leafs sent him back to the Marlies a few weeks ago.

But when the decision was made to keep him with the Leafs, it meant that he would subsequently have to clear waivers before being reassigned, a chance Fletcher was not about to take.

"He's already been in the AHL for two years, so I thought it was in the best interest of the Leafs to keep him up here, finish the season here and let him develop at this level," Fletcher said last night. "After doing that, we would look pretty stupid if we tried to send him down now and lost him on waivers."

"He has a great shot, an NHL-calibre shot, and he has good offensive instincts. He will have a chance to go to training camp in the fall and make the team."

Williams made a name for himself by scoring three goals in his first three NHL games over three separate seasons -- becoming the only player in NHL history to do so.

"It's a little difficult not going down to the Marlies once the season here is over because those guys are like family to me," Williams said. "But I understand the Leafs don't want to lose me. For what it's worth, I don't want to play in any other city than Toronto."

Williams has two goals in 14 games with the Leafs.


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