MONTREAL -- Maple Leafs defenceman Tomas Kaberle, who missed his ninth consecutive game last night, knows it is not always a good idea to lock horns with your coach.
But Kaberle said yesterday that he hopes to play Tuesday when the Leafs face the Washington Capitals at the Air Canada Centre, even if his coach, Ron Wilson, believes the all-star defenceman may be dreaming.
"He'll probably miss another week," Wilson said yesterday. "It's not (being cautious). He's not ready to play. He'll be out probably until next Saturday (against the Boston Bruins)."
Kaberle broke his right hand in a game against the Colorado Avalanche on Jan.29 and missed the next 13 games. He returned for two games before hurting the hand again. After eight games off, he was hoping to play last night at the Bell Centre against the Canadiens. However, an X-ray taken on Friday revealed that the hand has not fully recovered.
Despite the injury, Kaberle participated in the morning skate yesterday.
"It's tough to talk about it, but you never know, I'm just hoping Tuesday," Kaberle said of his return. "We still have an issue (with the hand). The doctor (orthopedic consultant Dr. John Theodoropoulos) and I agreed it's not worth taking the chance (last night) and Tuesday's game is 3-4 days away, so that's when we can look at it and hopefully play."
NINE GAMES LEFT
The Leafs have only nine regular-season games left and Kaberle is adamant that he will return before the season is over, even if he is risking further injury to the hand.
With the Leafs all but out of playoff contention, there are those who believe the native of Rakovnik, Czech Republic, is being foolhardy pushing to return this season.
"It's always in your head," he said of the risk, "but when you jump on the ice in a game, you don't think about it. You're just focussing on what you're trying to do every shift and go from there. If it happens, it happens. It's a hockey game, things happen."
Kaberle hasn't ruled out playing for his country at the world championship in Switzerland next month.