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Leafs winger Colby Armstrong was back on the ice today before practice, skating on his own and holding his stick in the wrong hand.

It was his first significant on-ice workout since suffering a freak injury to his left hand in the eighth game of the season. Armstrong said the injury resulted in a tendon "popping" off his hand as he passed the puck to a teammate on his first shift of the game.

He had to leave the ice immediately, knowing something was wrong.

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"They just had to sew my tendon back down onto my knuckle," Armstrong said. "It just kind of popped off, the tendon didn't tear or anything. It's now a matter of getting the flexibility and range of motion back to hold my stick or made a fist or anything. It'll just take some time to do that I think. I don't want to really rush it."

Armstrong was GM Brian Burke's biggest free agent signing this summer, inking a three-year, $9-million deal on July 1. He had only one point (a goal) in the seven games he played on Toronto's third line.

His recovery is expected to take another three weeks, meaning he could return in time for an early December road trip beginning in Washington. He still can't make a fist with his injured hand, which is why he was holding his stick the wrong way with his one good hand on the ice today.

Armstrong said it's been difficult to sit as his team continues to lose, going 0-6-2 without him in the lineup.

"It's tough watching," he said. "You wish you could be out there battling with the guys for sure. It feels like forever that I've been out right now.

"It was such an innocent thing. I didn't get hit or anything, it was just a weird thing that happened. I've been hit tons of times real hard and slashed real hard and I guess been able to dodge some bullets, but it's just one of those freak things that I think makes it more frustrating because you think of it just as a finger. I guess it happens. I guess."

Coach Ron Wilson said today he wants to have both Armstrong and captain Dion Phaneuf, who is out with a skate cut injury, in the dressing room prior to Tuesday's home game against the Nashville Predators.

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Wilson said Jean-Sebastien Giguere will get the start again in that one. Toronto hosts the Devils on Thursday and heads to Montreal (as do the Argos) for Saturday's game.

In terms of Marlies news, meanwhile, netminder Jussi Rynnas was named the AHL's player of the week today after posting a 3-0-0 record with a 1.00 goals-against average and 0.971 save percentage last week. Rynnas, an enormous Finn signed by the Leafs as a free agent this summer, had a bit of a slow start but has been red-hot in the minors of late.

It'll be interesting if they give him a shot in the NHL at some point this season. Both he and James Reimer have played well.

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Hockey Reporter

James joined The Globe as an editor and reporter in the sports department in 2005 and now covers the NHL and the Toronto Maple Leafs. More

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