A lot at stake for Blake

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:55 AM ET

Can anyone blame Jason Blake for wanting to get his share of the financial pie from the New York Islanders?

Each day he steps into the dressing room, Blake only need look at captain Alexei Yashin and goalie Rick DiPietro to find examples of owner Charles Wang's free spending ways of the past.

Of course, it has not always been money well spent. Yashin's long-term deal might be one of the worst in the league while DiPietro's 15-year contract is a doozy, to say the least.

Now it's Blake's turn to hold out his hand.

A pending unrestricted free agent this summer, Blake reportedly is becoming increasingly frustrated with the lack of progress in talks aimed at netting him a long-term pact.

Earning $1.56 million US this year, Blake, 33, is seeking a five-year deal likely worth about $18 million, according to Newsday.

If the Isles can't swallow his asking price by the Feb. 27 trade deadline, Blake is now suggesting he will turn his back on the team for good in the summer.

"If they don't want to sign me, maybe they should just trade me and get something that's good for them," said Blake, whose Islanders visit the Air Canada Centre to take on the Maple Leafs tomorrow night. "If I'm not signed by the 27th, then I'm going to test the market, and I don't think I'll be back."

Sounds like a pay-me-or-deal-me demand from Blake, who has 27 goals and 21 assists this season.

For his part, general manager Garth Snow is on record as stating there is no intention to move Blake. The Islanders claim they will be buyers, not sellers, and want Blake to be in the fold in their bid for a playoff berth.

Snow admitted being caught off guard by Blake's comments and feels the slick winger should be concentrating on winning games, not landing contracts.

Either way, it's an intriguing little soap opera for a team that comes to Toronto desperate for a win to help claw its way back into the post-season picture.

AS THE FLYERS TURN

While on the topic of soap operas, the Peter Forsberg saga continues to take new twists with each passing day.

Forsberg and Philadelphia Flyers chairman Ed Snider met yesterday and have agreed to "continue their discussions" according to the team, which added that there would be "no further comment at this time."

While the Flyers are staying tight-lipped about the chat session, an anonymous Philadelphia player said Forsberg wants to go to a contender.

If that is, in fact, the case, then it appears Forsberg is willing to waive his no-trade clause. At least 11 teams have shown interest including the Detroit Red Wings, Anaheim Ducks, Montreal Canadiens, Carolina Hurricanes, Atlanta Thrashers and Vancouver Canucks.

A recent report on TSN.ca suggested Forsberg would prefer moving to a Western Conference team.

HOW SWEDE IT IS

Almost one year ago, Forsberg and defenceman Nicklas Lidstrom were celebrating a gold-medal victory for Sweden at the 2006 Olympics in Turin.

Might the two superstars once again be teammates, this time in Hockeytown?

Lidstrom, the captain of the Red Wings, would gladly welcome such a reunion.

"Adding a player of Peter's calibre would help any team," Lidstrom said during a recent teleconference.

"A lot of teams are looking at him (to see) if he wants to move (by the trade deadline). If we can get him it would be huge for our team."

Forsberg certainly would not have any problem adapting to the Wings dressing room. Detroit already has seven Swedes on the roster, including five who were Forsberg's teammates at the Olympics.

Judging by the way the Red Wings pounded the visiting Calgary Flames last night, Forsberg's arrival in Motown would be a simple case of the rich getting richer.

In an interesting twist, Lidstrom's Red Wings lock horns with Forsberg's Flyers in Philadelphia tonight.

THE WEEK AHEAD

With games against the Islanders tomorrow and Flyers Thursday, the Leafs have an opportunity to scoop points from a pair of teams that are below them in the standings ... The Florida Panthers' visit to Montreal tomorrow night should fire up those Olli Jokinen-to-the-Habs rumours again ... Don't forget that the Leafs will hold a special ceremony honouring the 1967 Stanley Cup-winning Toronto team prior to the game against the Edmonton Oilers Saturday night at the Air Canada Centre. The highlight for most fans stands to be the return of former captain Dave Keon.


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