Leafs GM trying to be pro-active with Allison dilemma

STEVE SIMMONS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:05 AM ET

The shopping of Jason Allison is an indication of the quiet maturation of John Ferguson Jr.

A good general manager admits his mistakes and finds a way to fix them. Allison, in the new NHL, is a slow-motion luxury most teams aren't able to afford. This expensive off-season signing by the Maple Leafs has evolved into one of the team's least effective players and while he won't say it, Ferguson certainly knows it.

Allison can't play centre ahead of Mats Sundin, Eric Lindros and Kyle Wellwood, can't play when he doesn't have the puck, and can contribute offence in power-play situations only.

Should Ferguson be able to find a new home for Allison -- and reap something in exchange -- he would demonstrates the first sign of being a pro-active GM rather than reactive one. His personal learning curve remains in the early stages.

THIS AND THAT

If he was the type to scream -- and Mats Sundin isn't -- he would be yelling about his lack of ice time when compared with the better players in the NHL. If the Leafs are paying Sundin three times more than any other forward (unless Allison hits his bonuses,) shouldn't he playing more? ... A bet most of us would have lost: To date, the Leafs rookies Alex Steen and Wellwood are outscoring highly touted Philadelphia freshmen Mike Richards and Jeff Carter ... And to think, until the Panthers' cheerleading escapade, the most famous Staal in Carolina was beginning to be Eric ... Every year, Forbes magazine puts an expensive price on the Leafs, and every year CEO Richard Peddie denies the price. Funny, isn't it the job of a CEO was to raise the price of his business, not diminish it ... It's hard to give agents a bad name, but Drew Rosenhaus is doing it ... Is it just me or do the Ottawa Senators ever score a bad-looking goal? It looks like they are playing in a whole different league than everyone else. And the best move John Muckler made wasn't the inclusion of Dany Heatley, but the deletion of goalie Patrick Lalime.

HEAR AND THERE

First, the Blue Jays went after pitcher A.J. Burnett. Now, they're going after reliever B.J. Ryan. Apparently, their off-season strategy is to work their way through the alphabet ... The Dodgers reportedly have interest in Manny Ramirez, which is kind of amusing because what the Dodgers don't have is a general manager ... The Washington Nationals have a general manager but no owner. Jim Bowden, who was recently treated to a six-month contract extension, went to the GMs meetings this past week, not to make the Nationals better, but to interview for other jobs ... It's going to happen, but I'll go on record early saying that trading Orlando Hudson away will be a mistake. The Jays should use Hudson at second base, Aaron Hill at third and Russ Adams at shortstop and move Corey Koskie to first base or another team ... At least Terrell Owens has not broken any laws. Another Philadelphia Story, Phillies reliever Ugueth Urbina has been charged with attempted murder in Venezuela for apparently going after workers who did the unthinkable -- taking an uninvited swim in his mother's pool.

SCENE AND HEARD

One rule change later and Ed Belfour has gone from being one of the premier puck- handling goaltenders in hockey to being Arturs Irbe ...Clearly, the Los Angeles Kings are trying to rebuild their team around speed: How else to explain the Kings' 2005 draft selections of T.J. Fast and Jonathan Quick? ... A recent roast of boxing promoter Don King got a little too real: "How come there are so few boxers here? Because Don King screwed so many of them they wouldn't come," Donald Trump said. "Let's face it. Don King is a good damn thief. He screws everyone he touches. He screwed me for years and I didn't like it." ... Who wouldn't want Pinball Clemons under their Christmas tree? Not the person, the book written by Perry Lefko. Go buy it. It's Pinball. It matters ... Rafer Alston may have been a study in clinical psychology, but he is still a better point guard and more fun to watch than Mike James ... When Rob Babcock said the Raptors would win many games, was he missing a letter? Did he really mean any games?

AND ANOTHER THING

If he was so sincere about his apology, how come Owens had to read it off a piece of paper? ... Loved Jim Armstrong's line in the Denver Post about Pete Rose Jr. being in trouble. "Does that make him a chip off the old cellblock?" ... Tom Higgins doesn't look or sound the part of a football coach, but the job he has done in Calgary should make him coach of the year in the CFL ... If I had a vote, I would have taken the Argos' Jonathan Brown, not teammate Michael Fletcher, as the defensive player of the year in the East ... Never mind Ginger or Marianne: Who would you pick, Sidney Crosby or Alexander Ovechkin? ... Could understand Ricciardi letting Chris Carpenter go if he didn't believe he was healthy enough to pitch again. But Ricciardi let him go for two reasons. One, health. Two, he wasn't a believer in Carpenter's talent ... Darned if Sam Mitchell isn't the best dressed 0-and-5 coach in all of sports ... Maybe it's time for Mitchell to pull out the old Harry Neale lines. When Neale was coaching, he lost with more humour than anyone else. "Last season we couldn't win at home," Neale once complained. "This season, we can't win on road. My failure as a coach is that I can't think of any place else to play."... And hey, whatever became of Ricky Ray?


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