News and Information

Media Coverage

Leafs' Bell aims to make big jump

By TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

Wed, Jul 2, 2003 - Brendan Bell knows exactly what Maple Leafs brass thinks of him.

What Bell must start working toward accomplishing is proving them right. General manager/coach Pat Quinn has reiterated since the end of the season that the Leafs will give their young prospects on the blue line every chance to crack the opening-night roster, and scouting director Barry Trapp recently said Bell has the potential to be a Leaf in October when camp breaks.

"It's great to hear that someone in the organization has that much faith in you," said Bell, who had a standout year with the Ottawa 67's and was named Canadian Hockey League defenceman of the year. "But it's a hell of a jump for a 20-year-old kid to make into the NHL, especially one who has never played professional hockey. I am going to do everything I can to be ready for (making a run at a job)."

Bell is among a group of Leafs youngsters who hit the ice yesterday at Lakeshore Lions Arena for the club's annual prospects camp that includes such activities as a cooking class and touring some of Toronto's landmarks.

There's precedent for young defencemen to start with the Leafs out of camp. It's a route that was taken by Tomas Kaberle, Danny Markov and Carlo Colaiacovo in recent years.

"It's bona fide," Trapp said. "Brendan, Carlo, and I think (Maxim) Kondratiev is a guy who is going to be close too."

Presently, just three Leafs regulars on the blue line -- Kaberle, Bryan McCabe and Aki Berg -- are set to return next season. Bell knows that people such as Ric Jackman and Karel Pilar also will have a shot, as will Colaiacovo, who made the club last year as a 19-year-old. Bell realizes it won't do him much good to be the Leafs' seventh defenceman and play sparingly.

Because he has been named specifically as a player who could make it, Bell said his frame of mind took a turn.

"Maybe at the beginning of the summer I was thinking I would just go straight to St. John's and season there for a little while," said Bell, whose off-ice program includes workouts with noted fitness guru Lorne Goldenberg in Ottawa. "Now there is a pretty big incentive to get going and work as hard as I possibly can."

Put Colaiacovo down in the same category. The Etobicoke native is recovering from shoulder surgery and is not taking part in on-ice drills, but will be ready for camp. Colaiacovo has two games under his belt from a stint with the Leafs early last season and that could bode well for him.

"It's a tremendous advantage for me to know what to expect," Colaiacovo said. "It's nice to hear what management has to say. Their first priority is putting a winning team on the ice, and hopefully that includes more younger guys."

Return to main news section