Defenceman Mike Van Ryn did not dress last night after failing his baseline test, which he underwent yesterday. Van Ryn has missed the past 15 games after suffering his second concussion of the season on Dec. 18 in Boston. Baseline tests are administered to athletes before the season begins and then a post-injury test is conducted to compare with the first test to see if there is a deviation. Head coach Ron Wilson had expected Van Ryn to pass yesterday and play last night. GM Brian Burke said that while the news "obviously isn't good", he expects Van Ryn to be back sometime next week.
MOUTHGUARDS EN VOGUE
When he does return, Van Ryn likely will wear a face shield, something Wilson would like all his players to wear -- as well as a mouth guard, which would help absorb the impact from a hit to the head.
"We're trying to get all our players to wear mouth guards," Wilson said. "If you get hit and you're wearing a proper mouth guard, it lessens the chance of a concussion."
Wilson said one of Burke's first orders of business when he was hired as the Leafs' president and GM in November was to try to convince all the players to wear proper mouth guards.
"As soon as Brian got on board, he told our trainer: 'I want everybody wearing mouth guards in practice and in games.' Well, half our team didn't even have mouth guards, let alone (proper ones). So we're going through the process of getting everyone fitted properly.
IN PRAISE OF WHITE
When Van Ryn and fellow defenceman Jeff Finger return, don't expect to see Ian White scratched -- even though White was a healthy scratch for the first 11 games of the season. White has become one of Wilson's most dependable blue-liners. He has recorded 12 points in 34 games -- third among Leafs defenceman -- and leads the team with a plus four. But more anything, Wilson said White's attitude is what has made him a invaluable player since he began playing regularly and the fact that he can play forward in a pinch.
"I think that playing up front has made him a better defenceman," Wilson said. "I told him during a game that I might need you at right wing. Some guys would take that in a negative way, 'Oh, you don't like me as a defenceman?' But he's gung-ho about playing anywhere."
ODDS AND ENDS
Defenceman Pavel Kubina did not attend the morning skate yesterday because of an illness, but was able to dress for last night's game. Wingers Jeremy Williams (shoulder) and Nikolai Kulemin (ankle) are practising with the team, but likely won't play until next week.