No hard feelings

STEVE BUFFERY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:57 AM ET

Maple Leafs defenceman Mike Van Ryn faced his old team last night for the first time since being traded to Toronto for Bryan McCabe last summer and insisted that he didn't feel any extra motivation to beat the club who traded him after four seasons.

"Obviously you want to win (against your old team), but there's no hard feelings," Van Ryn said of the Florida Panthers. "I guess in a way they kind of did me a favour sending me here. It's always an honour to play here for the Leafs. I have a lot of friends in that (Panthers) room but would like to beat them, and that's what everbody says when they play their old team."

Van Ryn was limited to 20 games last season with the Panthers because of a wrist injury.

McCabe, meanwhile, hosted a Super Bowl party in Toronto for his teammates on Sunday.

COLLECTING POGGE

Following last night's game at the ACC, the Leafs play four in a row on the road, starting tonight in Buffalo, followed by games in Montreal on Saturday, in Florida next Tuesday and then next Thursday against Tampa Bay. Head coach Ron Wilson said Marlies goalie Justin Pogge will start tonight's games -- his third appearance for the Leafs this year. Pogge is 1-1 with the Leafs this season, allowing six goals on 21 shots in his last appearance, a 6-1 loss in Minnesota on Jan. 27. Wilson said regular Leafs backup Curtis Joseph will not play.

HARDWARE FOR FARMHAND

Toronto Marlies centre Tim Stapleton was named the American Hockey League player of the week, for the week ending Feb. 1. In two games this past weekend, the 26-year-old recorded three goals and two assists. He had two goals and an assist, including the game-winning goal, on Friday night in Toronto's 4-2 win over the Hamilton Bulldogs. Stapleton leads the Marlies in points (41) and assists (32) this season.

NIKOLAI THE TANK

Wilson gets a chuckle out of the Leafs program, which lists winger Nikolai Kulemin at 6-foot-1, 183 pounds.

"He weighs about 230 pounds. He's a tank out there," said Wilson, who would like to see the rookie play more of a physical game. "He skates and he's physical (but) he has to do more of both, more physical than anything. When you tell him to finish his checks, that gets his legs moving -- he's effective forechecking, instead of standing around. He's asserting himself and that leads to other positive things in his game. He's a big man and once he gets rolling like that, he's a tough man to stop and then that gets him feeling good about himself, that he's accomplishing something on his shift."


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