Poni a proud papi

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:51 AM ET

Alexei Ponikarovsky got a break from the Leafs practice yesterday at the Lakeshore Lions Arena after his wife gave birth to a son in the early hours of the morning.

That prompted some congratulations and a joke from coach Ron Wilson and a not so subtle shot at Hockey Night In Canada's Don Cherry, who has been riding the Leafs coach hard on Coach's Corner the past couple of weeks.

"He had a boy and he named it Ron," Wilson deadpanned. "He had a tough choice, Don or Ron, and he made the right one."

DECISION DAY

As an American citizen, Wilson is eligible to vote and said he did so a couple of weeks ago, mailing in his ballot to South Carolina where he is a registered voter.

And as you might expect from the outspoken coach, he isn't shy with an opinion on today's election.

"It's going to be an interesting day, an historical day," Wilson said yesterday. "I'll be tuning in. (This election) has more impact on our lives than one hockey game."

WHITE NIGHT

After finally getting inserted into the lineup on Sunday and responding with a goal, expect Ian White to get another crack at the 'Canes tonight.

Wilson said White likely will start out at forward, even though his natural position is defence.

"I thought he played fine and probably deserves a chance," Wilson said. "Over time, he's probably better suited to be a defenceman, but when you are an offensive-minded guy and you can skate, it doesn't take a lot to step up front for short periods of time."

White, who has done his best to remain patient while waiting for his chance, said conditioning has not been a problem because of all the extra skating he has done as a non-starter through the team's first 11 games.

FACEOFF

Carolina Hurricanes: Tonight, 7:30 p.m., Air Canada Centre (TSN)

Who's Hot: Eric Staal (five goals, four assists) and Ray Whitney (three goals, six assists) lead the 'Canes in scoring ... 'Canes had scored just four times in their previous three contests but matched that total in just four minutes during the second period of Sunday's 6-4 win over the Leafs.

Injured: Brandon Sutter (concussion), Justin Williams (torn achilles), Scott Walker (knee), Joni Pitkanen (torn meniscus), Scott Walker (hand) and Matt Cullen (leg).

Skinny: Cullen and Walker could return to the Carolina lineup as early as tonight ... Expect Cam Ward to return after backup Michael Leighton got the call against the Leafs on Sunday.


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