Carlyle says simply: Gardiner will be up when he is ready ... and no sooner

Defenceman Jake Gardiner practising with the Maple Leafs. (SUN files)

Defenceman Jake Gardiner practising with the Maple Leafs. (SUN files)

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:42 PM ET

Jake Gardiner is going to play in the National Hockey League, again.

Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle is sure of it.

The question weighing on the mind of seemingly everyone in Leafs Nation, though, is when?

The hand-wringing has taken on a greater sense of urgency with the Leafs riding a season-high three-game losing streak into Thursday’s home date with Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

But there’s been no summoning of Gardiner from the Marlies, and his agent, Ben Hankinson, didn’t aid the situation when he tweeted late on Tuesday night #FreeJakeGardiner after the Leafs were trounced 5-2 on the road by the Winnipeg Jets.

“It’s our job to make sure the timing is right and he is performing at a level where he is too good for the American Hockey League,” Carlyle said following practice at the Air Canada Centre on Wednesday.

“And I have not heard anyone tell me he has. He has NHL-quality skills, he is going to play in the NHL. It


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