Stajan on a mission

STAFF

, Last Updated: 8:49 AM ET

It could have been the beginning of the end of a promising career with his hometown team.

But when Matt Stajan was benched early in the season, he took the opposite approach and the hard work since has paid off handsomely for the Mississauga native.

Stajan, who will turn 25 next week, is having the best season of his young career, playing regularly on the Leafs' top line alongside Alexei Ponikarovsky and Nik Antropov.

ACCOUNTABLE

As one of the first players to be held accountable and get benched by Leafs coach Ron Wilson, Stajan saw it as a sign that his job no longer was secure.

But rather than moan about the temporary demotion, Stajan responded with some strong play that established himself as one of the young team's top forwards. Prior to a recent mini-slump, for a while Stajan found himself on a point a game streak.

Though he has just three points in his past seven games, Stajan had seven goals and 16 assists prior to last night's game in Buffalo and is on pace for a career year in this his fifth full season with the Leafs.


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