Leafs feel right at home

STEVE SIMMONS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:45 AM ET

Tie Domi phoned a friend not long ago and told him he was leaving the Maple Leafs. He was near tears as the clock struck midnight.

Three days later, he signed a two-year contract to stay in Toronto.

Eric Lindros made a telephone call last weekend and said his dream of playing for the Leafs was over.

Four days later, he was slipping on the blue and white jersey of choice.

These are just two of so many free agent stories in this strange National Hockey League summer.

This is how trying and emotional this month has been for players, trying to find their way again. With the landscape shifting almost minute to minute, many have found themselves at crossroads, juggling offers of term and money and location.

One minute they're gone, the next minute they're staying, the next minute they just don't know.

Both Domi and Lindros did the unusual: They accepted less to play with their team of choice when both thought that wasn't going to be possible anymore.

THIS AND THAT

What hasn't been said about the Lindros signing: The Leafs became more aggressive in the end after a surprise late offer from the Ottawa Senators was presented to No. 88 ... If I'm Pat Quinn, Lindros and Mats Sundin are playing on the same line. With Lindros playing centre and Sundin on the wing ... The Lindros who played in Philadelphia scored at an 111-point pace. The Lindros who played in New York scored at a 67-point pace. The Leafs will be fortunate if he ends up somewhere in between those two numbers ... Everyone who has watched Jason Spezza play this summer is raving about the talents of the Ottawa centreman ... Now that the Leafs have Lindros and Jason Allison, is Adam Deadmarsh next on their list? ...Wayne Gretzky might be the next Scotty Bowman, but not if Brian Boucher is his only goalie in Phoenix. No coach can win under those circumstances.

HEAR AND THERE

Not all is well with the Colorado Avalanche, who have lost Peter Forsberg and Adam Foote, replaced them with the challenged Pierre Turgeon and Patrice Brisebois and then followed it up with the signing of Brad May who, when we last we checked in, was threatening their team. Just one question: After all his success, has Pierre Lacroix finally lost it? ... The Flyers signed Forsberg for $5.7 million US a year. The Leafs signed Lindros, Allison, Jeff O'Neill and Alexander Khavanov for $5.7 million. In 20 words or less, who got the better deal? ... My all-time favourite website is the Internet Hockey Database. What a fountain of information for the hockey nut ... Looking for work: The blue-line stars of the 1982 Memorial Cup-champion Kitchener Rangers -- Al MacInnis and Scott Stevens -- remain without NHL contracts for the coming season ... Among the vulnerable ex-Leafs still hoping for big-league jobs: Felix Potvin, Travis Green, Yanic Perreault, Bryan Marchment and Glen Wesley.

SCENE AND HEARD

Can't remember seeing anyone being hit as hard -- and that includes football -- as when Carlos Beltran ran into Mike Cameron in the Mets outfield the other night ... Legendary baseball manager Gene Mauch passed away and left behind so many memories and so many words of wisdom. Among my favourites: "If it's true you learn from adversity, then I must be the smartest SOB in the world." ... In between sentences, Perdita Felicien lost her concentration ... Trevor Bell, no relation to George, was recently drafted by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Bell happens to be the grandson of television legend Bob Bell, best known in our living room as Bozo the Clown ... Maybe Bud Selig should use the "best interest" clause in baseball and remove himself as commissioner ... Why hosting the Olympics is a wonderful concept but a horrible investment: The bill is in for the Athens Games. The cost was $16 billion, only $9 billion more than originally planned ... The people who keep insisting that drug testing for all sports should be conducted by the World Anti-Doping Agency apparently have never been to an Olympic Games.

AND ANOTHER THING

Maybe this is all Eric Hinske can be: A .249 hitter this year, a .246 hitter last year, .243 the year before. He is no longer a disappointment. This is what he is ... If Pinball Clemons had a do-over, wouldn't Mookie Mitchell still be catching passes for the Argos? ... Michael Bishop and my wardrobe have something in common: Year after year, neither gets better ... Will some hockey economist please explain this to me: If the Edmonton Oilers couldn't make money pre-lockout spending less than $31 million on salaries, how exactly are they going to make money spending basically the same amount in an NHL that will bring in less revenue than before? ... If the Chicago Bulls match the $9-million offer the Raptors threw at free agent guard Chris Duhon, look for Toronto's next target to be ex-Rap Jannero Pargo ... The Argos don't throw enough to the forever angry Robert Baker, who should be their most explosive offensive player ... And hey, whatever became of Larry Hillman?


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