Wiser Schenn returns

STEVE BUFFERY, TORONTO SUN

, Last Updated: 3:17 AM ET

Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson welcomed Luke Schenn back into the lineup, but gave him a verbal slap in the head as he held the door open for the second year defenceman.

Schenn's mistakes have been well documented this season, prior to this three-game banishment to the press box this past week. But Wilson suggested yesterday that the fundamental problem with Schenn has been his mental preparation ... basically the Saskatoon native hasn't always been ready to play at the level the Leafs expect.

FORGET

"I'd say 80-85% of players in the league go through a period where they forget how special it is to play up here. Whether you're 19 or 29, it sometimes happens," said Wilson.

"You can never just assume you're going to automatically dress without any repercussions of how you're playing," the coach added. "We tried to protect Luke for a while and I think sitting him out a couple of games is the best thing for his overall development."

On paper, Schenn's numbers aren't terrible, though his overall ice time is down from last season. He is even in terms of goals for and against while he's on the ice and is the only regular Leafs defenceman, other than Ian White, who does not have a negative rating.

But the 20-year-old consistently made defensive mistakes and has not always implemented the physical side of his game, thus the healthy scratch.

But while disappointed, Schenn said yesterday that he made the most of his demotion, such as learning the game from a new perspective above the ice.

"You can learn a lot of things up there -- watching some of the guys who are playing well, how they're getting to shooting lanes, what they did on the penalty kill, watching them move the puck," he said. "Hopefully I've learned and it will make me a better player in the long run."

Loose Leafs

Schenn was pumped that his younger brother Brayden, a first round pick of the Los Angeles Kings this year, will play for Canada at the world junior championships, which starts Dec.26, in their hometown of Saskatoon, with some games also in Regina.

"It was always a dream of both of ours, growing up in Canada and watching the world juniors every Christmas, to play," said Schenn, who played at the 2008 event. "Our family's real proud, and being in Saskatoon, we've got a lot of friends and family to support him."

STEVE.BUFFERY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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