Leafs pay for poor play

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 1:30 PM ET

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- It wasn't the wakeup call the Maple Leafs would have preferred after a gruelling three-game western road trip.

And as the sun came up over the Arizona desert, it was a quiet group that hit the ice at the Jobing.com Arena this morning, less than 10 hours after a third-period collapse that saw them lose 6-3 to the Phoenix Coyotes.

Leafs coach Ron Wilson called an unscheduled, 8 a.m. practice (mountain time) and the team skated for 50 minutes before rushing to the Phoenix airport for a 10:30 a.m. charter flight back to Toronto.

The emphasis was on skating as Wilson and his staff made it clear that he won't accept such shoddy efforts without a price. It started during the Coyotes game when Wilson benched veteran defenceman Tomas Kaberle for the entire first period.

"They do (work)," Kaberle said. "Losing two games in a row is not easy to swallow. You just try to start fresh the next morning.

"(Being benched) is part of this business. If you aren't playing well, obviously something is going to happen."

Wilson refused to talk to the media after the workout but his actions said enough. The team was ordered on the bus at 6:45 a.m. to make the skate.

"We did kind of need it," Leafs defenceman Jeff Finger said. "It was a wakeup call. Ron can't let us off the hook every time. We needed it."

The Leafs finished the three-game road trip with a 1-2 record after defeating Los Angeles on Monday and losing to San Jose Tuesday and the Coyotes Thursday. The team is back in action tomorrow at the Air Canada Centre against the Washington Capitals.

After Thursday's loss, Wilson was highly critical of Kaberle, who was on the ice for the final four Coyotes goals.

"We just need everybody with a better effort," Wilson said post game. "The minuses (with Kaberle) keep piling up. It's about accountability."


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