Ducking offseason trend

Teemu Selanne says he would like to start training camp even though he has yet to sign a contract....

Teemu Selanne says he would like to start training camp even though he has yet to sign a contract. (Sun Media/Darryl Dyck)

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:49 AM ET

While Mats Sundin continues to sit on the fence concerning his future, Teemu Selanne has hinted strongly that he is poised to return to the National Hockey League.

Selanne, 38, has been participating in informal on-ice workouts with a handful of Anaheim Ducks in southern California. Doesn't sound like the type of activity reserved for someone intent on retiring, does it?

Selanne, who has not officially announced his decision to date, did go as far as to tell reporters last week he would like to start training camp.

With his Ducks already more than $2 million US over the salary cap, general manager Brian Burke must find a way to shave payroll in order to fit Selanne in. The most mentioned name is defenceman Mathieu Schneider, whose cap hit for this season is slated to be $5.625 million US.

The Sundin Saga could very well be intertwined with the Selanne situation.

One theory making the rounds is that those interested teams who lose out in the Sundin sweepstakes might use their available money to pursue Schneider. Given that Sundin said he likely would not have a final decision prior to the start of the regular season concerning if or where he was going to play, they might be in limbo for a while.

If teams wait on Sundin instead of being proactive and going after Schneider, it might be a mistake down the road. Sundin does not even know if he is going to play at all, as he has made perfectly clear over and over again.

- That Sundin met with the Montreal Canadiens over the weekend for a courtesy call is no surprise. Nor is the fact that he allegedly told them he is no closer to a decision.

There are those close to Sundin who figure the former Leafs captain might wait until mid-November to see how the talent-thin Toronto team is faring. In any event, he is said to be contemplating the Leafs and one other team -- likely the Habs or New York Rangers -- if he opts to come back.

- Don't be surprised if the Leafs bring in former NHLer Corey Hirsch, who also had a stint on the Canadian national team, as the organization's goalie coach prior to training camp.

Should Hirsch get the job, expect much of his time to be occupied by working with prospect Justin Pogge.

In the past, there were members within the Toronto brass who saw warts in Pogge's game, both on the ice and with his attitude. Now the kid will get the opportunity to play 60 games with the American Hockey League's Toronto Marlies, an obvious audition for a future spot with the parent club.

To his credit, Pogge arrived in Toronto a month early this year to begin skating and working out with other Marlies and Leafs.

- Ex-Leaf Steve Sullivan, one of the smallest players in the NHL at 5-foot-8, always has been the prototypical underdog, the type of guy the average fan would root for.

Keeping that in mind, it is sad to hear the news out of Nashville from coach Barry Trotz that Sullivan, while making progress from his back injury, is not yet ready to rejoin the Predators. Trotz went a step further, saying the team is preparing to play the season without the speedy forward, who has not suited up for an NHL game since hurting his back 19 months ago.

Sullivan has bucked the odds to score 228 goals since entering the league with New Jersey in 1995-96. Unfortunately this injury might just be too much to overcome.

- Having been coached by Ron Wilson in San Jose, Leafs goalie Vesa Toskala knows the Leafs will be different in one significant way under Wilson's tutelage this season. "We will block far more shots," Toskala said. "He is very big on shot blocking." ... Mark Bell has asked the Leafs for No. 28. Are you listening, Tie Domi? ... Curtis Joseph has pried his familiar No. 31 away from Pavel Kubina, who now will don No. 77 ... As for Kubina, he has gone from scapegoat to candidate for captain in less than a year.


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