Van Ryn gets green light

Mike Van Ryn returned to Leaf practice on Wednesday. (Sun Media/Michael Peake)

Mike Van Ryn returned to Leaf practice on Wednesday. (Sun Media/Michael Peake)

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 1:26 PM ET

He may not be healthy as a horse just yet, but Maple Leafs defenceman Mike Van Ryn won't be champing at the bit to get back in game action any longer.

Leafs coach Ron Wilson said this morning that Van Ryn, who has been out of the lineup since Nov. 8, will return for tomorrow's game in Buffalo against the Sabres.

"Van Ryn's going to play," Wilson said after this morning's practice at the Air Canada Centre. "For Rynoe it's been almost five weeks and he's been given clearance and he'll be in the lineup."

Van Ryn suffered a variety of injuries when he was rear-ended into the boards by Montreal's Tom Kostopolous but the most troubling was a broken hand. He has been skating with the team for the last couple of weeks and participated in practice both today and yesterday, including time on the power play this morning.

"I've told them I'd like to play and that I feel I'm ready," said Van Ryn, who was acquired in an off-season trade for Brian McCabe and has three goals and five assists in 14 games. "I sat out and missed a lot of games last year. I'm tired of sitting out. I want to play. I was having a lot of fun here and I just want to help the team win some more games."

Van Ryn accompanied the team on last week's western road trip to California and Arizona where he skated every day along with fellow injured defenceman Jonas Frogren. Wilson said Frogren won't return until next week at the earliest.

Absent from today's practice was centre Matt Stajan, who Wilson said was taking care of a personal matter.

The Leafs won't leave for Buffalo until tomorrow morning which means they won't have their usual game-day skate in Buffalo. The team's on-ice Christmas party was scheduled for this afternoon at the ACC, part of the reason Wilson opted to wait until the morning to travel down the QEW.

"I don't see a problem going up in the morning," Wilson said. "We'll leave at 10 a.m., get to the hotel, have our meal and a rest then go play the game."


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