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Hope alive in Leafs’ room

The messages have been sent about benchings, about having fun, aboutremaining calm and about Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke’s belief in hisplayers.<br />

The messages have been sent about benchings, about having fun, about remaining calm and about Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke’s belief in his players.

The questions that will be answered Saturday, when the Leafs try again for that elusive first win, is whether those messages have sunk in and whether the team can rebuild its shaken confidence.

“The pin prick in our balloon was Montreal,” said Leafs coach Ron Wilson. “Going into overtime and losing, it seems to have shaken our confidence coming out of training camp.

“We’ve got to fix how we handle adversity, otherwise this could be the longest season of our lives. I’m pretty sure we have a strong enough group. Burke hit the reset button, so I think we’ll be fine.”

Resetting that confidence and hearing some positive feedback is what the last couple days have been about. The team had Wednesday off and was told to stay away from the rink.

On Thursday, Burke went into the dressing room after an upbeat practice.

“He said he believes in every one of us and to relax,” said defenceman Garnet Exelby.

Mike Komisarek, who could use some positive reinforcement given his miscues, enjoyed the chat.

“Burkie’s always straight forward and honest,” said Komisarek. “Having him come here and look us in the eye and deliver his message was awesome.

“It calmed everyone down.”
Despite the 0-5-1 start, there are reasons for hope:
Smiles and laughter from the players after Thursday’s lighthearted workout seem to have relieved some tension; goalie Jonas Gustavsson is expected to practise today and be ready for next week’s road trip; and Phil Kessel participated in nearly all the drills yesterday and is on target for his mid-November scheduled return.

 
 
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