Mogilny hip to 'business' decision

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:15 AM ET

Alexander Mogilny waited for an offer that never came.

The veteran winger with the speedy wheels and sharp wit admitted yesterday that he would have enjoyed remaining a Maple Leaf, but quickly realized his hopes were squelched when he did not receive a contract proposal from general manager John Ferguson last month.

"Nothing happened," Mogilny said yesterday during a telephone interview from New Jersey. "I guess (the Maple Leafs) didn't want me. Nothing."

Truth be told, coach Pat Quinn had a strong desire to retain the extremely talented Mogilny, but admitted last month that there simply was not enough wiggle room under the $39 million US salary cap to keep him on board.

The Leafs did contact his representative, J.P. Barry, but immediately discovered the asking price was too rich.

As a result, Mogilny will begin his second stint as a New Jersey Devil today when the team holds its first on-ice workout of training camp.

The normally money-conscious Devils shocked much of the hockey world by shelling out $7 million US over two seasons to Mogilny and his surgically-repaired hip, outbidding Mike Keenan's Florida Panthers in the process.

And while he is happy to be back with a Devils club with which he won the Stanley Cup in 2000, Mogilny and his loved ones miss Toronto.

"I guess I kind of expected it," he said of the Leafs' decision to not enter the bidding. "Business is business.

"Myself and my family, we really enjoyed it in Toronto. I'm not going to lie, we had a great experience. We certainly wanted to stay there.

"I can't say enough about how great the fans were to me. I really appreciated it."

Claiming to understand why the Leafs organization headed in a different direction, Mogilny does not seem bitter at Ferguson in the least. The biggest letdown, he said, was not being able to bring Toronto its first Stanley Cup since 1967.

"Sure it was disappointing," he said.

"We had a great team there. We just lacked taking that one little step more."

After first going under the knife to repair his ailing hip in November 2003, he was back in the lineup in time for the playoffs five months later. But the hip continued to give him problems, leading to a second surgery in September 2004.

There has been speculation that the potential mishandling of his rehab was part of the reason that Chris Broadhurst and Brent Smith, two long-time members of the Leafs training staff, were relieved of their duties during the summer.

It is a theory Mogilny does not buy into.

"They did everything they could," he said. "You can't fire people over just one thing.

"(The second surgery) needed to be done. As for the first one, maybe it wasn't the proper rehab, maybe I came back too soon ... "

All that remains is to see how the hip holds up during game action.

"It feels fine right now, but we'll see," he said.

"It's nice to be in familiar surroundings. But it's different now that Scott Stevens and Scott Niedermayer are gone."


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