MLSEL to review numbers issue

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:16 AM ET

With renewed public debate about retiring sweater numbers, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. has struck a committee to review club policy.

For decades, the Maple Leafs chose to have just two numbers retired -- Bill Barilko's No. 5 and Ace Bailey's No. 6 -- keeping "honoured" numbers 1, 7, 9, 10 and 27 in circulation. But many alumni and fans have urged the current hierarchy to emulate the Montreal Canadiens and retire them outright, not risk lesser players diminishing the symbolic numerals.

"It gave us pause to think," MLSEL president and CEO Richard Peddie said. "Right now we're not big on retiring. We think it's great that a good player such as Alex Steen wears 10 (in the tradition of Syl Apps and George Armstrong). It's a subjective thing."

Peddie said the committee will include himself, Leafs general manager John Ferguson, MLSEL executive vice-president Tom Anselmi and senior VP John Lashway.

"We hope to have a decision shortly," Peddie said.

BELFOUR CALLS FOR FAIRNESS

Ed Belfour lent his name to the complaint that NHL players sent to the National Labour Relations Board about the hiring process of Ted Saskin as head of the Players Association. But the Leafs goalie is not going to make it a daily personal crusade.

"I just hope that in all fairness to the membership the right thing happens," Belfour said. "I think there are a lot of people at the PA who have to look themselves in the mirror, do a gut check and make sure they're doing the right things for everyone and not for themselves.

"I think for the most part, everyone wants what's right for the union and what's fair. Everyone's talked about the process. It wasn't done fairly and according to the by-laws. That's the main reason everyone is upset."

WAIL OF FORTUNE

Canadian J.D. Fortune, who won the reality TV competition Rock Star: INXS in September, is slated to sing the national anthem on Saturday when the Habs are in town.

LOOSE LEAFS

Winger Jeff O'Neill was back at practice yesterday after a scheduled checkup on his problematic shoulder ... Defenceman Bryan McCabe also returned after a trip to his off-season home in New York for personal reasons.


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