Hab wants talk

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:22 AM ET

Mike Ribeiro's solution to a contentious issue of the lockout would not be good news for unrestricted free agents.

The Montreal Canadiens forward suggests a drag on free agent salaries, particularly unrestricteds, as a way to get the two sides talking after almost a month and a half of stalled collective bargaining.

"The free-agent market is what drives up salaries for all players," Ribeiro told Le Journal de Montreal yesterday. "It's up to the owners as well as players to try to resolve the situation. They should start talking."

Ribeiro didn't tell the paper specifically how to control salaries, but said mechanisms should be found to control pay in the various free-agent categories, starting with unrestricteds. He also said entry-level salaries for rookies should be lowered.

Ribeiro's views aren't new, but neither does he fear to tread on the subject of exploring a salary cap. Last spring, he raised debate when he said salaries of $11 million US per season were ridiculous and that no player should be paid more than $6 million.

He said he also felt bad for the league's lowest-paid players who are most affected by the lockout. Ribeiro doesn't include himself in that group, although he made $847,000 US and was to have been paid $1.55 million this season

KNEED TO KNOW NOLAN

Maple Leafs general manager John Ferguson said last night he's awaiting something in writing today from Owen Nolan's doctor regarding the status of the winger's his surgically repaired knee.

Nolan has been cleared to play by Leafs' doctors, the first move to taking the injured $6.5 million US player off the club payroll during the lockout. But Nolan, as is his right, sought a second opinion yesterday from Dr. Tony Minacci in Cleveland.

"I would suspect we'll get it promptly," Ferguson said.

If Minacci disagrees with the Leafs, Ferguson said the team would be "expedient" in finding an independent doctor in concert with Nolan's agent, J.P. Barry, to make a final determination.

Ferguson said no decision has been reached on whether winger Tie Domi will seek another opinion about his damaged left hand. Alex Mogilny (hip) and Ed Belfour (back) also remain on the Leafs' payroll.

DROP THE PUCK

The International Management Group's tour of Europe in December, featuring Mats Sundin and perhaps Domi, should be finalized this week.

"We're 95% done," Barry, manager of IMG Hockey, said yesterday. "There are going to be 10 great games."

The tour's tentative sites include Moscow, St. Petersburg, Oslo and three Swedish cities, hence the inclusion of Leafs' captain Sundin. Also expected are IMG clients such as Joe Thornton and Rick Nash.

Barry said there remains a strong possibility Sundin will play for his old Swedish club team Djurgarden in January if the NHL season is cancelled. As for Sundin's close friend Domi, who has expressed interest in joining Sundin in Europe, Barry said there's a chance the latter will be added to the roster. IMG is also working on a television deal.


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