Bowen's back in action

LANCE HORNBY AND MIKE ZEISBERGER. SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:06 AM ET

After a health scare, long-time Leafs' play-by-play man Joe Bowen made it back behind the mike last night to start his 27th season with the team.

Bowen was suffering from a serious case of laryngitis, which had sidelined him most of September and all nine exhibition games.

"They ran a lot of tests and it was only the weekend when it started to come back," said Bowen. "Before that, I was barely whispering."

He's only missed a couple of radio and midweek TV games for family reasons out of more than 2,300 since 1982.

Family affair

From across the globe, family and friends of new Leafs did their best to see their first regular season game.

Eddy and Maria Stalberg, who run a men's clothing store in Gotheborg, Sweden, had the exhibition games streamed through the internet, but an all-sports station was to show the Leafs and Habs live - starting around 1 a.m. local time this morning.

Dan Rosehill, a livestock auctioneer in Alberta, caught a late flight to Toronto to see son Jay in his first NHL game, after a close call years ago in Tampa when Jay was recalled but not used. The rest of Rosehill's family would be watching Hockey Night In Canada from Olds, Alta.

Wayne Primeau, who dreamed of playing for the Leafs as a kid, but drafted by Buffalo, had some of his GTA relatives coming to the game, though brother Keith couldn't make it from the Philly area.

Heroes on hand

As part of the Maple Leafs pre-game ceremonies, Paul Henderson, Ron Ellis, Mario Lemieux, Cassie Campbell, Paul Coffey and Darryl Sittler were honoured for their contributions to Canadian hockey in international competition.

While Henderson easily scored the biggest goal in Canadian hockey history during the 1972 Summit Series, Lemieux easily received the loudest ovation. Seems Super Mario remains a fan favourite.

Hammer time

Habs coach Jacques Martin opted to sit Roman Hamrlik last night after the veteran blue liner missed most of training camp with a draining virus.

Hamrlik, who played just one preseason game, did practice the past few days but was held out in order to build his strength.

Replacing him in the lineup was Ryan O'Byrne, who endeared himself to the Habs coaching staff with his physical play in the exhibition season, one that included three fights and 33 penalty minutes.

Meanwhile Habs forward Kyle Chipchura returned to Montreal to be examined by doctors. Chipchura is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.


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