Infirmary to clear out soon

STEVE BUFFERY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:45 AM ET

There were some surprises at the Leafs practice at Lakeshore Lions Arena yesterday.

Forward Niklas Hagman did not practice, nor did defenceman Tomas Kaberle who played in Sunday's all-star game at the Bell Centre in Montreal.

"Hagman had the flu, he'll meet us at the airport," said Toronto coach Ron Wilson, as his team wound up practice and prepared to board their charter flight for Minnesota, where they will meet the Wild tonight.

Kaberle was given the day off and met the team at the airport yesterday.

Injured defenceman Mike Van Ryn practiced and will play tonight. Forward Jeremy Williams, who has missed the past 10 games with a shoulder injury, also practiced yesterday, but won't be ready to play tonight, although there is a possibility he could play in Colorado on Thursday.

"I'm really close," said Williams, who spent the four-day all-star break rehabbing his shoulder. "Hopefully in the next week I'll get back. It's just a matter of when the coaches (call on) me.

"It's been quite the journey with this injury. So I can't be sure on anything right now," he added.

Veteran Jeff Finger, who has missed the past six games with an upper-body injury, also practiced but will not play in Minnesota tonight.

"Hopefully he'll be ready for the Colorado game," Wilson said.

CHILLING OUT

The Leafs' practice was held at 3 p.m. yesterday, roughly four hours later than usual, as the players were all returning from various holiday destinations during the four-day all-star break. Only Kaberle and rookie Luke Schenn participated in the all-star festivities on the weekend. Wilson relaxed in South Carolina during the break while most of his players also retreated to warm destinations. Goaltender Vesa Toskala was one of them.

"It was a great four days, a good mental break and now we're ready for this last third of the season," said Toskala, who did not think of hockey during the break. "Totally, 100%. I just gave the body a bit of a rest and a little bit of a mental break. But it's always nice to come back and start working out."

FITNESS IS THE KEY

With 35 games remaining, one of Wilson's goals is to continue to work on his club's fitness level.

"That's just going to be a project over the course of the season -- practicing hard at different times," Wilson said. "Once the regular season starts, your conditioning is never better than it is at the start of the season. So, it's going to drop. So we're just trying to maintain (our fitness level). And (the players) have to get used to, over the course of the season, the tempo that we expect them to practice at. And it's going to be a process over the next couple of years to change the culture around here."


Videos

Photos