SUN Hockey Pool

Stumpy will work for cheap

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:42 AM ET

Steve Thomas is willing to work cheap.

The veteran winger admitted yesterday that he would accept the minimum NHL salary of $450,000 US in order to stretch out his career for one final season.

"Yeah, it would be something I'd play for," Thomas, 42, said yesterday after participating in a spirited game of shinny with a number of NHLers at Lakeshore Lions Arena.

Don't expect Thomas to play just anywhere, however. To no one's surprise, the Markham native left little doubt that Toronto would be his destination of choice.

"I'm pretty fussy," Thomas said. "It would be nice to stay close to home. My son is playing AAA hockey, there is the issue of schools for my kids. It would be tough to leave here.

"There have been conversations with a number of teams (including Toronto) but I haven't heard anything in a week or so. If anything happens, I think the thought process is that it would be closer to the start of training camps."

Leafs general manager John Ferguson would not comment about any possible interest the team might have in Thomas.

At least the popular forward, who goes by the nickname of Stumpy, has a contingency plan in case he does not play NHL hockey this upcoming season and likely is forced to retire.

Thomas has taken on the role of coach for the AAA minor bantam Toronto Marlies, the team for which his 13-year-old son Christian is playing for.

Yet his preference remains suiting up for an NHL team for one final season. After undergoing both knee and stomach surgeries in the past two years, he insists he is raring to go.

"After going through that, the year off (because of the lockout) probably helped me more than 90% of the people in the league," he said. "And I still have passion for the game. I still have juice left.

"The biggest void in my career is not winning the (Stanley) Cup. And with this new CBA, many teams including Columbus and Atlanta can contend. I think the Leafs are in the mix too."

If that's the case, would he accept a tryout deal in order to live his dream of being back in Toronto?

"I broke into junior on a tryout," he said, chuckling. "Hey, I've done it before."


Videos

Photos