Long break needed for banged-up Buds

Mike Van Ryn during warmup before pre-season action between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the...

Mike Van Ryn during warmup before pre-season action between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Air Canada Centre October 5th, 2008. (Dave Abel/Sun Media)

LANCE HORNBY

, Last Updated: 8:54 AM ET

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day will give the Leafs their longest break between a spate of games that began Dec. 16 and Jan. 3. Players such as defenceman Mike Van Ryn needed the time as he tries to come back from a concussion. He sported a visor at practice yesterday morning, but didn't make it back.

Defenceman Luke Schenn (knee) and winger Jamal Mayers (hand) are unlikely to play in the Boxing Day match on Long Island.

Loui, Loui

It's only December, but there's nothing wrong with a coach pumping his own players for NHL awards. The Stars' Dave Tippett put in a good word yesterday for 18-goal winger Loui Eriksson to win the Frank Selke, one of the hardest to pick for writers at voting time.

"He does so many things in a game so well, he's as good a checker as there is," Tippett said yesterday morning. "He influences the game on both sides of the puck and I feel that's what the Selke Trophy should be all about. He plays both sides of special teams, he plays against the other team's top players. He's finding the net now - sometimes he surprises himself - but they're going in for him."

LONG RHODES

The last time a Leaf rookie goalie won his NHL debut game was Damian Rhodes in March of 1991, but the circumstances were much different. Rhodes was well down the ladder at the time, but all NHL teams needed to make a goalie available for the 1991 expansion draft who had played at least 60 minutes in the NHL. Rhodes came up and beat the Red Wings 3-1 at Joe Louis Arena and was quickly demoted, but the player the Sharks chose from the Leafs that summer was defenceman Rob Ramage.

Rhodes eventually returned as Felix Potvin's backup in 1993.

LINE CHANGE

"He does so many things in a game so well. He's as good a checker as there is."

Dallas coach Dave Tippett on Loui Eriksson


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