October 6, 2010
By ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency
ZIGOMANIS IN THE CLEAR
It was quite a day for Toronto native Mike Zigomanis who looks like he has a shot at being the fourth-line centre to start the season.
He started by getting on the ice at the Mastercard Centre at 11 a.m. still unsure if he had cleared waivers from the previous day. By the time practice was over, he was a safe man and in line to play in his first NHL game in almost two years.
"I'm shaking off the rust because my last game was in November 2008," said the 29-year-old, who is no stranger to the waiver process. "I've probably been transferred more times than the whole team collectively so it's nothing new to me."
Leafs coach Ron Wilson hasn't indicated whether Zigomanis or John Mitchell will start as the fourth-line centre on Thursday.
DOWN BUT NOT OUT
As the Leafs wrapped up practice on Tuesday, the Marlies hit the ice on another pad at the Mastercard Centre and included in the group was recently demoted rookie Nazem Kadri.
By all accounts, the 2009 first-round draft pick--who celebrates his 20th birthday on Wednesday -- took the move as well as could be expected.
"I'm sure he's not happy about being sent down but I think he handled it very well," Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf said. "I talked to him yesterday and he wasn't happy about it, but he's going to work hard on little things to become a better player and I'm sure he'll be up here if he does that."
Kadri skated on a line with another last-minute cut, Luca Caputi.
Also on the ice was veteran Wayne Primeau, who was released by the Leafs in one of the early cuts. The team is allowing Primeau to skate with the team to remain in shape.
PRACTICE MAKES ...
After a gruelling preseason, that included nine games in 12 nights, the Leafs have just two practices to prepare for Thursday's season opener against the Montreal Canadiens.
Wilson agreed to give the team Sunday and Monday off after Phaneuf organized a paintball outing for the team.
"I thought that was just as good as a practice," Wilson said. "They did all their off-ice stuff and then went paint-balling, a little bit of team-building."
ON THE DEFENCE
Something to watch Thursday is how Wilson handles his defensive pairings the rest of the week. For Saturday's final pre-season game, Luke Schenn was reunited with Tomas Kaberle -- who he played with most of his rookie season -- leaving Mike Komisarek with Carl Gunnarsson.
Meanwhile, there was another setback for defenceman Jeff Finger who missed most of camp with a knee injury but sustained an unspecified problem on the weekend.
"It's a different injury but we hope we can practice with us tomorrow and go from there," Wilson said.
Leafs draft pick Greg McKegg is off to a strong start in his Ontario Hockey League campaign with the Erie Otters.
The St. Thomas, Ont., native was named the OHL's player of the week after recording seven points in three games. The Otters captain was selected 62nd overall by the Leafs in the entry draft this April and had a strong rookie camp before being sent back to junior.