Wilson benches Stajan, Hagman

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:13 AM ET

Since the verbal warning shots were having no effect, Ron Wilson took aim with his pen and struck off the names of high-profile forwards Matt Stajan and Niklas Hagman from the Maple Leafs lineup last night.

As part of an early season shakeup to stop the club's worst October in almost 20 years, Wilson put the pair in the press box, ignoring almost 100 points of production from last season. Their places were taken by rookie winger Viktor Stalberg, back from a week off with a mild concussion, and roommate/centre Tyler Bozak, called up from the Marlies in the wee hours after a 7-2 debacle in New York, Bozak's first NHL game.

"Viktor and I were on our different team schedules, but I was jealous whenever he went on (an NHL) trip," Bozak said.

As expected, Vesa Toskala was not in goal last night against Colorado, not only bumped by farmhand Joey MacDonald, but spending the morning getting an MRI for a suspected knee injury suffered Monday night in his latest drubbing.

Toskala was slow to recover when teammate Jason Blake cross-checked Chris Drury into his crease while Toskala was in the vulnerable butterfly stance. Wilson did not believe the injury was serious, yet James Reimer was summoned from the Marlies on 24-hour emergency recall. The crease could get really crowded toward the end of the week when Jonas Gustavsson is expected to resume practising after being out with a slight groin injury.

But the focus at yesterday morning's skate was on Stajan and Hagman, who weren't happy when they came off the ice with the injured Leafs at the end of the workout.

They haven't been the worst forwards the Leafs coach has harped on of late for unwillingness to drive the net or take a hit to make a play, in fact, they have five of the team's 12 goals. But Stajan took a key penalty up ice on Saturday against Pittsburgh and is a minus-3 and Hagman has been inconsistent.

"It has to be significant change," Wilson said of getting the rest of his players' attention. "To sit out guys who play on the fourth line but have given a really good effort, makes no sense to me."

Stajan, whom Wilson shocked by making a healthy scratch in a game last Oct. 13 against the Blues, went on to have a career year in 2008-09.

"It's a winning business, and if you don't win, you're going to change things up," Stajan said of the decision.

Toskala had registered no wins, a 5.56 goals-against average and there was no way Wilson was going to risk further fan backlash last night, even if he was healthy.


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