Hagman's status iffy

STEVE BUFFERY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 12:14 PM ET

Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson was hoping to have forward Niklas Hagman back in the lineup last night against the Edmonton Oilers.

But not only wasn't the team's fifth-leading scorer not ready to play last night, it could be days or even weeks before he plays again. Hagman suffered a second concussion of the year when he was elbowed in the head by the New York Islanders' Brendan Witt back on Feb. 26.

"That's what I said, I was hoping he was going to be back, but he's not," a crusty Wilson said yesterday. "Obviously I'm not a doctor. And that's the nature of the concussion business now. You get knocked in the head, especially if it's a second or third time in the season, there's no predicting when that player is going to be back."

Witt was suspended by the NHL for five games for the hit and Hagman has now missed four games and will almost certainly miss Tuesday's match in Tampa Bay, meaning that he'll likely miss more games than Witt -- another example of the cheap-shot artist returning quicker than the guy he hurt.

The P-word

Wilson loathes saying the P-word, but his players don't.

The Leafs sit in 11th place in the Eastern Conference standings, nine points out of the eighth (heading into last night's game) and final playoff position -- with three teams in their way. It's a long shot, but nobody's throwing in the towel quite yet, though Wilson is being truthful when he says that the post-season is probably unrealistic.

"We've been working hard as a group and we've been having a lot of fun together. We're getting points on the board for our team and, if we keep on doing this, it's going to get closer and closer and hopefully close enough where we can make the hurdle," said defenceman Ian White.

"We realize that we're still pretty far behind and we're going to have to win most of our games coming up," added defenceman Luke Schenn. "But who knows? We're in a little bit of a streak here and I think the main thing there's no quit here and we're not giving up."

Mr. Happy

Centre John Mitchell has moved up from the fourth line to one of the top lines since the Leafs traded Nik Antropov and Dominic Moore and has two goals and two assists in Toronto's past four games. Still, Wilson isn't overly enthused.

"He's playing well so far. But, again, it's two games," the coach said.

"That jump to conclusion that somebody plays two (good) games, and they're a star ... he's got to continue to show this kind of consistency and he'll be rewarded with the ice time."


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