Leafs Report

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:36 AM ET

NO HUMOUR HERE

If the famous Paul Maurice sense of humour dries up, then you know the Carolina Hurricanes are in trouble.

Last place, or close to it, has been a strain on the Canes coach, who twice missed the playoffs behind the Maple Leafs bench before coming here last season -- ironically to replace the man who had replaced him, Peter Laviolette.

"I'm not as funny as I used to be ... just ask our (reporters)", Maurice deadpanned yesterday.

But the Hurricanes can at least use the injury excuse, with goalie Cam Ward and centre Eric Staal leading a parade to sick bay. When healthy, this is a very dangerous team, that went all the way to the conference final last spring.

Maurice said he's not worried about losing the team in these hard times and enough of his players know the special relationship between him and general manager Jim Rutherford precludes any thought of giving less than 100% to try and force a change behind the bench.

"I've liked our process," Maurice said. "The battle has been there (in the team). Small group meetings on the ice would not be a good sign."

A few days ago, Rutherford issued a personal apology to Hurricanes fans for this season's showing to date.

"I didn't necessarily agree with Jim taking the heat," Maurice said. "It's all on us."

LOOSE LEAFS

There were some long faces in the dressing room after Greece beat Ukraine in World Cup soccer qualifying. Kiev-born Alexei Ponikarovsky was consoled by Mikhail Grabovski as they watched the final minutes.


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