The ice remains in at the Air Canada Centre, but it could soon be melting right along with the National Hockey League season. "I've kept it in because I'm an optimistic person," said Bob Hunter, executive vice-president of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment and general manager of the ACC. "But it means a huge utility bill to keep the pad chilled. If I were to hear anything (official) from the National Hockey League, we'd pull the plug right away."
The Maple Leafs have now gone nine months without skating as a team at their Bay St. home, which has no more scheduled hockey activity. A plan to shift some St. John's Maple Leafs games here next month has hit a snag, according to Hunter.
New Jersey Devils CEO and general manager Lou Lamoriello, a member of the league's negotiating committee, said time is of the essence if the 2004-05 season is to be saved.
"We're getting closer and closer and there has to be a decision one way or another soon," he told The Canadian Press yesterday. "You can't go any higher than the two men (Bob Goodenow and Gary Bettman) who are now involved. We have to leave it in their hands right now to make that decision."
But Lamoriello hasn't totally given up on the season.
"It doesn't sound or look good at this point, but no one has told me the season is over," he said. "Until they do that, Yogi (Berra) still lives in New Jersey. I see him often, he's a good friend (and he says) 'It's never over until it's over.' "