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Leafs coach Wilson responds to players asking out of Toronto

TSN.ca Staff

1/28/2010 6:42:40 PM

Maple Leafs head coach Ron Wilson says he understands why two of his players want off the team, but he has no interest in creating a culture of entitlement in Toronto.

Garnet Exelby and Jamal Mayers have made it clear they want out of the Big Smoke, but both players say it will not affect the way they play with the Leafs up until the day a trade is made.

"It's funny how things change and never quite work out the way you hope they might," said Exelby on Wednesday. "I understand we have a team that's deep in defencemen and it's tough for me to get in the lineup and stay in the lineup. It's been that way all year."

A seldom-used defenceman who was acquired in an off-season deal that saw Pavel Kubina sent to the Atlanta Thrashers, Exelby added that he just wants a chance to play somewhere and doesn't feel that will happen in Toronto.

"If there's not much use for me here then I'll be happy to go somewhere if it helps the team and do something that's right for the organization," he said.

Much like Exelby, Mayers says he is not pleased with his lack of playing time and thinks his rambunctious style could be put to better use on another team. But he vows his unhappiness will not manifest itself in a lack of effort on the ice with the blue and white.

"The reality is that I am a Leaf and I'm going to continue to work hard. That won't change and hopefully people notice that," said Mayers, who was acquired from the St. Louis Blues in 2008 for a third round pick.

Despite the knowledge that two of his players would rather be playing somewhere else, Wilson took a sympathetic tone at first, saying he understood their plight and was not bothered by their requests to seek a trade.

"They want to play and they're disappointed in their ice-time," said Wilson. "This happens all the time so it doesn't bother me."

But the coach was firm in his desire to have a winning team with players hungry to achieve.

"Nobody is entitled to ice-time," Wilson said. "Unfortunately a lot of players today actually believe they are entitled - no matter how their performance is - to just automatically play without accountability or responsibility, and we're trying to win."

This season, Exelby has appeared 32 games and has three assists and 40 minutes in penalties. Mayers has one goal and four assists with 76 penalty minutes in 42 games.

The NHL trade deadline is March 3.