Rosehill faces old team

Jay Rosehill is back in the lineup tonight against the Lightning in Tampa. (QMI Agency file)

Jay Rosehill is back in the lineup tonight against the Lightning in Tampa. (QMI Agency file)

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:46 PM ET

TAMPA -- Winger Jay Rosehill hopes to show the Tampa Bay Lightning was too hasty to get rid of him when he faces the team that drafted him Thursday at the St. Petes Times Forum.

“Any time you go back a place that didn’t want you, you want to prove yourself, so I’ll be ready to go tonight,” Rosehill said at the morning skate, after Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson confirmed he’d be back in the lineup after a one-game absence. “I started out as a defenceman, things didn’t pan out and I got lost in the system.”

The checker/enforcer was chosen 227th overall back in 2003, years before ownership and management upheaval rocked the ‘04 Stanley Cup champions. He bounced around the AHL, leading the minors in fights last season before Brian Burke brought him to the Marlies near the end of the year on a tryout.

“I thought I could bring something (to the Lightning), but things didn’t work out here. New ownership came in here and maybe they didn’t know that much about me. When the people who drafted you (general manager Jay Feaster) aren’t around anymore, sometimes that happens. “But it was good for both sides for me to move on and I was lucky to get picked up by Toronto.”

Rosehill bumps John Mitchell from the lineup as Wilson made the latter a healthy scratch for the first time this season. Mitchell came back from a six-week knee injury earlier this month, but has just two points in nine games and his ice time was down to eight minutes in Tuesday’s loss to Atlanta.

Toronto also welcomes centre Wayne Primeau back after he hurt his knee Jan. 2 in Calgary. Primeau will replace Rickard Wallin, whose failure to score might keep him in the stands a long time with Primeau back.

“To have two centremen go down in the same game (Mikhail Grabovski broke his wrist in the same Calgary game) was hard to take,” Primeau said. “I had started to feel good about myself (a promotion to the third line) and to have that setback was disappointing.”

The medical news wasn’t as good on defenceman Mike Komisarek, who will be out another week with a shoulder injury after missing the past three weeks.

Jonas Gustavsson gets the start in goal, seeking to be the first Leaf stopper to win consecutive games since Vesa Toskala more than a month ago. Wilson said he’s in a Catch 22 with the rookie Gustavsson, wanting to play him more, but handcuffed by the crowded NHL schedule.

“I’d use him more, but I don’t want to kill him,” Wilson said. “When you’re averging four games a week, it’s hard to play the same guy. I don’t want a dead man walking by the time the Olympics come around (Gustavsson is backing up for Sweden). He won’t get a break like (Toskala), so I have to manage his time more carefully.”

A tale of two Swedish defencemen will also affect the lineup as the Leafs and Lightning attempt to find a pulse for the playoffs.

Tampa Bay, coming off a lively team meeting on Wednesday when coach Rick Tocchet challenged the club’s leadership, was to make at least one significant change, sitting No. 1 draft pick, second overall, Victor Hedman. The 6-foot-6 defenceman was piling up the errors of late, many of which were ending up in Tampa’s net.

“I’ll get right back at it tomorrow at practice,” said Hedman, who was expecting to be sat out. “Maybe I was trying to contribute too much. Maybe I need to calm down and do what I’m good at. I know I have it inside me.

“It might help to look at the game from above. They did the same thing with Steven Stamkos last year and look what kind of second half of the year he had and how he has performed this year (25 goals),” he said.

The Bolts’ team meeting was frontpage news in the local papers as the club’s playoff hopes look to be in danger, even though they’re ahead of the Leafs.

“You can’t keep having Groundhog Day,” Tocchet said in explaining his reasoning for getting tough with his team. “If you’re a quiet guy, maybe you have to stand up and break a few sticks. I don’t know if guys are scared to ruffle feathers. Maybe guys are too nice to each other.”

Carl Gunnarson of the Leafs, meanwhile, returns to the rink where he had three assists on Nov. 25.

“I get a good vibe in this arena,” he agreed, adding the weather in this part of the world is quite agreeable to someone from Scandinavia.


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