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Wary Kelly was lined up, then protected

Milan Lucic (left) sticks it to Maple Leafs defenseman Cody Franson in the second period of the Bruins’ 7-0 thrashing. Milan Lucic (left) sticks it to Maple Leafs defenseman Cody Franson in the second period of the Bruins’ 7-0 thrashing. (Frank gunn/Associated Press/the canadian press)
By Kevin Paul Dupont
Globe Staff / November 6, 2011

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TORONTO - Bruins center Chris Kelly saw the hit coming, and with the Bruins ahead, 7-0, in the third period last night, he figured the Leafs would be looking for a statement hit or two before the night’s humiliation came to an end.

“I looked up, and saw him coming, so I was ready for it,’’ said a matter-of-fact Kelly, recalling how he saw Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf line him up around the 11-minute mark of the period. “But no problem, clean hit. That’s hockey, eh? The last thing any of us want to see is hitting taken out of the game.’’

Kelly, lambasted by the ever-on-the-hunt Phaneuf, fell in a heap under the blow, but popped back on his feet. Newbie Jordan Caron moved in to aid his linemate, letting Phaneuf - who repeatedly ducked confrontation through the night with Boston’s Shawn Thornton - know that the hit was not appreciated.

“I loved seeing that,’’ said Kelly. “We’re a tight group in that dressing room. That was just great to see.’’

Kiddingly, when asked about Tyler Seguin’s big night (first career hat trick), Kelly also said, “C’mon, I’m not going to pump the kid’s tires. He doesn’t know how good he played.’’

Kelly went on to say that Seguin really impressed him with his second goal, which he triggered by forcing a turnover in the neutral zone. Seguin also was smoked by a Joey Crabb elbow, but returned and scored his third goal.

“I was kidding on the bench with the boys after that,’’ said Kelly, another Toronto-area homeboy. ‘’I said, ‘OK, boys, Ziggy scored, he must be OK.’ Really, great to see him bounce back like that.’’

McQuaid up and down

Adam McQuaid was back at work for a fourth straight game. He was on the sideline for four-plus matches in October after hitting his head on the ice in an awkward tumble Oct. 12 in Raleigh, N.C.

The Bruins never revealed whether McQuaid, 25, suffered a concussion, but they treated the 6-foot-5-inch, 210-pound defenseman cautiously. Asked after the morning skate if he felt 100 percent again, McQuaid flashed his trademark big smile and said he was in tip-top shape.

But tip-top is a relative term, especially in a game of perpetually hard knocks. Asked if he remained symptom-free, McQuaid added that lingering symptoms “probably are going to be on and off for a while.’’

Concussions take time to heal, and those who suffer them often need time to get their games in full repair. McQuaid has not recorded a point in his return.

“When you are playing regularly, you’re in rhythm, both on the ice and in your daily routine,’’ said McQuaid. “When you’re out there on the ice, and you’ve been playing a lot, things just develop more naturally. You’re playing more off of instinct and positionally you’re just more sound.’’

St. Michael’s College School in Toronto, long a producer of NHL talent, recently instituted a protocol that keeps concussed athletes from returning immediately to the classroom. The program, “Return to Learn,’’ slowly reintroduces brain-injured students to academic work, adding to their classroom hours as their recovery improves.

“There’s a lot of focus on the return to play,’’ Corinne Kagan, a program director at the Ontario Neurotrama Foundation said last week in a story about St. Michael’s published by Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail.

A ring for the Hall

Upon arriving Friday afternoon, many of the Bruins, including club president Cam Neely and general manager Peter Chiarelli, visited the Hockey Hall of Fame and presented the august institution with one of the beefy Stanley Cup rings players received upon return from summer vacation.

The ring/gift tradition began in the fall of 2007, when then-Ducks GM Brian Burke, now holding the same job with the Leafs, handed the HHOF one of the Ducks rings. Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Chicago followed suit, and now the Bruins’ 2011 Cup ring will remain on permanent display.

Not every Boston player made it to the Hall. Kelly attended, signed autographs, and was left wishing he had more time to explore the hallowed halls.

“I didn’t get much of a chance to see a lot of it,’’ said Kelly, who grew up in the Greater Toronto Area. “The whole thing’s neat, I think. I’ve been to Cooperstown, too, for the Baseball Hall of Fame. There’s more for kids here, you know, more games and interactive stuff for them to play.’’

Leaf viewing

Leafs TV, the all Blue-and-White network that went on the air in September 2001, this year began offering live two-hour broadcasts of every Leafs practice at the Mastercard Center in nearby Etobicoke. Every home off-day practice. Two hours. Live. NESN might have to up its game in Wilmington, giving the defending Stanley Cup champs a little bit of live-for-TV love.

“There is such an insatiable appetite here for everything Leafs,’’ said Leafs TV on-air reporter Paul Hendrick. “We have to feed the beast. Heck, if you’re a kid home from school on a weekday, what else are you going to watch? Leafs practice sure beats those ‘Gilligan’s Island’ reruns and cartoons.’’

According to Hendrick, viewers are treated to live shots of each workout, along with commentary from Leafs TV personalties and interviews with players. Each of coach Ron Wilson’s daily media scrums is carried in its entirety.

“We get everything,’’ said Hendrick. “None of the carcass is spared.’’

Double plays

The Leafs will play 16 sets of back-to-back games this season. The Bruins play 12 of these “doubleheaders,’’ and won’t play their first until Nov. 25-26, when Detroit and Winnipeg come to the Garden. Much of the Leafs’ schedule is dictated by the “Hockey Night In Canada’’ broadcast behemoth . . . Tim Thomas wore a new mask during the morning workout . . . The Bruins are back at work tomorrow night when the Islanders visit the Garden in the first of a five-game homestand.

Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GlobeKPD.

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