Even in the middle of an NHL season, there is always time for some fun and games. Especially in a week heavy with the latter.
With four contests over a seven-day span, the Leafs didn't mind yesterday's outdoor skate at High Park, which was light on drills but heavy on fun and entertaining the school kids in the crowd.
"It's good for our players to reconnect with what they felt like when they were kids," coach Ron Wilson said after the hour session on the crisp, fast ice. "We weren't able to accomplish a lot in practice, but we had a little bit of fun and sometimes at this point of the season, that's what you need."
It was a new experience in Wilson's coaching career. There are not many outdoor rinks in Washington, D.C., after all and definitely none in San Jose and Anaheim, Wilson's two previous NHL coaching stops.
"It brings back fond memories of growing up and hockey's grassroots," Leafs defenceman Ian White said. "It's great to get an opportunity like this."
With Rangers coach Tom Renney getting the axe after his team lost Sunday, the Leafs are proving to be coach-killers yet again. Just a week earlier, Michel Therrien lost his job with the Penguins after a Saturday night loss to the team.
The Rangers get a chance to avenge the 3-2 overtime defeat tonight at the Air Canada Centre.
"I just hope (new Rangers coach John Tortorella) doesn't get fired too if we win the game," Wilson said with a laugh. "I know Torts pretty well. He'll bring some fire and more than anything some accountability.
"In one day you're not going to change a mindset of your team, but you know the team is going to come out with a lot of passion and hopefully we can match that."
Leafs defenceman Tomas Kaberle hopes to return to the lineup on Saturday for a game against the Senators after suffering broken bones in his hand on Jan. 29.
Kaberle skated with the team yesterday at High Park, but has yet to take a slap shot.
"My goal is just to get back in the lineup," said Kaberle, who needs to get clearance after another X-ray before he can return. "I would play (tonight) if I felt strong enough."
RING THE BELL
The Leafs put forward Mark Bell on waivers yesterday, allowing any NHL team to pick up the veteran by noon today. Bell, who was acquired by the Leafs in the same deal that brought Vesa Toskala to town from San Jose, failed to stick with the team following training camp. He has 12 goals and 15 assists in 56 games with the AHL Marlies.