Belfour takes a pass on Russia

LANCE HORNBY and MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:23 AM ET

Maple Leafs netminder Ed Belfour has decided not to play in Russia.

"Ed didn't feel right about a few things and he has decided not to go," agent Ron Salcer said yesterday, declining to name the Russian team. Salcer said last week that basic contract terms had been agreed upon, but complications arose. One of them was Belfour becoming ill from a tetanus shot he received last week in preparation for the trip, which sidelined him for two days.

NO NEW CAREER

Leafs' Joe Nieuwendyk was asked if he would be interested in picking up a lacrosse stick again as Brendan Shanahan did in an informal workout with the Toronto Rock of the National Lacrosse League.

"There is no way. It has been 20 years since I played competitively," Nieuwendyk said with a laugh. He re-affirmed his wish to play hockey next year, rather than contemplate retirement at age 39.

"I want to keep playing -- if not this year, then next year," he said. "Who knows when this will end, but my goal is to keep skating and stay in shape."

FEARS FOR THE FUTURE

Philadelphia Flyers captain Keith Primeau feels that talk of losing the entire 2005-06 season is not just idle chatter.

"What's really scary is that we have no idea how this is going to come out at the other end," he said. "Everyone says we might start up again next December or January. But if we're this far apart now, what basis is there to think that there will be a resolution by that time?

"It's my own personal opinion, but I'm resigned to the fact that we may miss a whole other season as well."

BABY LEAFS BACK

The St. John's Maple Leafs could be headed back to the Air Canada Centre for a playoff game or two.

Bob Hunter, the general manager of the Air Canada Centre, says there is an "outside chance" that a projected building conflict in mid-April at Mile One Stadium could result in Toronto's farm team coming here if it qualifies for the post-season. Two regular season contests in December at the ACC drew well.

But Hunter said an extension of the lockout into next year likely wouldn't see the Baby Leafs play many games at the ACC, when they move to town permanently in 2005-06, owing to the previous lease deal with the Ricoh Coliseum.

"There might be a conflict when Ricoh hosts the Boat Show or the Royal Winter Fair and then we'd look at some ACC games," Hunter said.


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