Leafs let Eagle fly away

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:18 AM ET

Ed Belfour's website still featured him in a Maple Leafs sweater last night, but whether he makes a fifth National Hockey League jersey change or heads for the Hall Of Fame remains to be seen.

As expected, the 545-win goaltender was terminated by Leafs general manager John Ferguson yesterday, along with 10-year enforcer/winger Tie Domi.

Belfour, 41, had a slump and another back operation during last season, making him a risk to bring back at his full $4.52-million US salary. The Leafs cashed him out at $1.5 million.

"Eddie came in here (in 2002) and was a great free agent signing, but we made an acquisition (Andrew Raycroft) that set up us going forward in goal," Ferguson said.

Belfour has been recovering from the spring surgery at a special clinic in Dallas and agent Ron Salcer insists Belfour will play somewhere in the NHL in 2006-07.

While Domi told the Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons yesterday that he and Ferguson were on bad terms personally, the GMsaid there was logical reasoning behind buying Domi out.

"We sat down at length (in June) and had a full discussion with Domi and (agent) Pat Morris," Ferguson said.

"In Tie's career, not that it's finished, he did a tough, tough job for a lot longer than most people could have expected and did it very well. We're much appreciative of his efforts. It wasn't a salary cap situation at all, it was solely a hockey decision."

Expanding on that, Ferguson said the "new" NHL wasn't suited for a 36-year-old Domi, the franchise leader in penalty minutes.

"The change in the game, some of the ways the rules were going to be called, the transition game, the speed -- those things didn't play to his strengths," Ferguson said.

Forwards Jason Allison and Eric Lindros now are free agents, representing 82 points in 99 games last season.

"We've been in touch with both, we're trying to see where this goes, what makes sense, what else is out there," Ferguson said of the chance both injury-prone centres return at cheaper prices.


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