Wilson ready to cut roster

Mikhail Grabovski and coach Ron Wilson skate during Leafs training camp on Sunday. (QMI Agency/Alex...

Mikhail Grabovski and coach Ron Wilson skate during Leafs training camp on Sunday. (QMI Agency/Alex Urosevic)

ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:27 AM ET

TORONTO - The deeper Ron Wilson moves into training camp -- and it's only been three days -- the more the Maple Leafs coach sounds like a man whose mind is for the most part made up.

There were still 64 players on the roster Monday, bodies that will be needed for five exhibition games beginning Tuesday at the Air Canada Centre. But when it comes down to trim that to a more workable number, Wilson isn't going to waste any time.

"I'm not going to spend a lot of time giving people reasons why they are here or not," Wilson said following Monday's scrimmage at the Mastercard Centre in Etobicoke. "They have had an ample opportunity in scrimmages or exhibition games to prove what they can do.

"This isn't a baby-sitting service or a kindergarten where you have to give everybody a detailed explanation why you are not on the team. More than likely, each player knows why he's not on the team and we'll just move on."

"Hopefully I can get down to 26 or 27 people by the weekend and it will make my job easier to prepare the team."

Wilson didn't say when he would start making cuts, but with major junior leagues starting on Friday, some could come before the weekend. By a workable number, he's hoping to have close to the core that will enter the season when it begins Oct. 7 at home to the Montreal Canadiens.

In the short term, the Leafs are about to embark on five pre-season contests in five nights and the coach needs plenty of bodies. First up are back-to-back home dates against the Ottawa Senators followed by a Thursday game against the Flyers in London, Ont., back home for another date against Philly on Friday then down the QEW to meet the Sabres on Saturday.

Wilson wouldn't divulge who is playing in tomorrow's pre-season opener, but earlier in camp he said it's likely that there won't be more than the league-mandated eight veteran players in the lineup for the first five.

Even though they've had just three practice dates thus far, players are anxious to get down to some hitting against the enemy.

"It will be good to get the games going now," captain Dion Phaneuf said. "It's been three real good days -- the scrimmages are very intense, which is what we want as a group. I'm looking forward to starting tomorrow."


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