Komisarek's ego all patched up

Maple Leafs defenceman Mike Komisarek worked on his conditioning in the off-season and the change...

Maple Leafs defenceman Mike Komisarek worked on his conditioning in the off-season and the change is noticeable. (MICHAEL PEAKE/QMI Agency)

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:17 PM ET

MONTREAL - Hundreds of men in Leaf sweaters are about to be let loose in Montreal for Saturday night’s game, to burn off some pent-up hockey emotion.

Mike Komisarek is going to be one of them, though rather than limited to trading insults with hometown fans at the Bell Centre, he’ll be right in the trenches, looking to belt a few Canadiens.

After being a healthy scratch in Boston — a first for him since joining the Leafs in 2009, the alternate captain has been reinstated, just in time for a big rivalry game against his old team.

Don’t think that coach Ron Wilson didn’t take the schedule into consideration when pulling him from the linuep against the Bruins to give him “perspective” about his play, and then putting him back in a game of this significance.

“Regardless if I’d sat out, I would have been jacked up for Montreal,” Komisarek said Friday.

He admitted Thursday’s meeting with Wilson and the coaches when he learned his fate wasn’t without its tense moments.

“I went in there, sat down with them and listened to what they had to say,” Komisarek said. “It went back and forth a little bit, but I respect the coach’s decision. You’re never happy to be out of the lineup, but he’s the coach. You don’t get down on yourself.”

Komisarek had the full support of Wilson through training camp when it appeared he might be squeezed out of a starting job by the arrival of Cody Franson. Komisarek ended up partnering fleet-footed rookie Jake Gardiner, a veteran mentor for the kid, on and off the ice.

But nearly every Leaf defenceman is having adjustment issues, with Franson and Gardiner both healthy scratches already this season and Luke Schenn in danger of the same fate before he rebounded on Thursday. Komisarek’s turn came in Boston.

“I don’t think I’m playing awful,” Komisarek protested. “If anything, I’m feeling confident. I like the direction my game is going on. I just got caught on a couple of penalties (Wednesday against Winnipeg), and a couple of plays here and there. It’s nothing major, it just requires a few minor adjustments.

“This was a little bump in the road. Sometimes it’s good to take a step back. Definitely watching from the press box gives you a different perspective on things. You see the game differently, you see how guys pursue, how they move the puck and little things like that.”

It’s said Komisarek is most effective when he simplifies his game, uses his big frame in a subtle fashion and not try running opponents into the third row or risk grand offensive plays. The temptation will no doubt be there when O Canada ends and the dueling crowd plugs in.

“The most important thing is for us to get back in the win column and make sure I’m doing my job,” Komisarek said.

“I’m sure the guys will be anxious to get going against Montreal on a Saturday night.”

After getting thumped 6-2 in Boston, the Leafs cancelled practice on Friday so Komisarek had no outlet for his energy, except some off-ice exercise.

“Rest is a weapon as you find out as you get older,” Komisarek reasoned. “It was a tough loss, but if we want to have success this year, we’re going to have to learn to stop the bleeding right away.”

With his own ego patched up, Komisarek is looking to make a lot of people in Leaf colours very happy on Saturday.

lance.horby@sunmedia.ca


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