No Foote for Leafs

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:44 AM ET

With so many free agents linked to the Maple Leafs, you would think a first-come wristband policy might have been considered at the front gates of 40 Bay St.

But the first day of business saw most traffic heading to the exit. In addition to Gary Roberts and Joe Nieuwendyk leaving, Tie Domi is getting antsy and Adam Foote is off the guest list, replaced by Zigmund Palffy. Sportsnet reported late last night that defenceman Foote, an area resident who expressed a great interest in the Leafs, had signed a three-year deal worth $13.8 million US with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Palffy, meanwhile, told a Slovakian newspaper that the Leafs are a favoured destination if the Los Angeles Kings don't give him the three-year deal he seeks to round out his NHL career.

"(Los Angeles) is showing greatest interest, but I don't exclude that in the end I will end up in Toronto, Detroit or in Florida," the 33-year-old three-time 40-goal scorer told the daily paper SME. "I will certainly not take the first contract they will offer. I want a more long-term contract, three to four years."

But Leafs' general manager John Ferguson won't comment on any names, nor will he get into specifics on Domi's chances of coming back. If Domi didn't like the direction of the team before, he's likely seeing the loss of Roberts and Nieuwendyk as a negative.

Domi and agent Pat Morris are looking at offers this week. Domi, courted by the Penguins among others, hopes to get between $1.5 million and $2 million, but would make some sacrifice to stay with the team he hoped to retire with.

Ferguson tried to sound calm in the wake of the Whitby duo's defection to the Florida Panthers and the possible loss of Domi.

"We're definitely going to expect more of the people we have and look to fill a couple of slots (through free agency and farm promotion)," he said last night.

Defence remains a concern in Toronto, though an offensive-minded type to run the Leafs' inconsistent power play could see a Sergei Gonchar-type player get the most interest. The Leafs are hardly slam dunks to win the Cup, but if the hot Hogtown hockey market attracts more free agent interest such as Palffy, Ferguson won't argue.

"I certainly would not disagree with their assessment," he said. "There is an unparalleled atmosphere here on a nightly basis."


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