Would Leafs want Leetch?

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:44 AM ET

Team Canada officials wasted little time in coming up with a contingency plan in case Bryan McCabe, Adam Foote and/or Ed Jovanovski are not ready for Turin.

With all three players recently enduring groin problems, the Canadian brass identified the San Jose Sharks' Scott Hannan, Dan Boyle of the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers' Jay Bouwmeester as possible replacements.

Meanwhile, as expected, the rumour mill already is churning in McCabe's absence.

One nugget making the rounds on various blogs involves the potential return of 37-year-old Brian Leetch to the Maple Leafs.

Leetch has a one-year deal worth $4 million US with the lowly Boston Bruins.

At this point, take it for what it is -- an unsubstantiated rumour.

Before Maple Leafs general manager John Ferguson pulls the trigger on any deal, expect him to find out what McCabe and fellow blueliner Tomas Kaberle will be looking for in order to re-sign next season. Both are pending free agents, and Ferguson needs to know what price they are asking before potentially adding any salary for 2005-06.

NIK OF TIME

Nik Antropov admits it will take some time before he gets back into form.

The lanky forward played in only his third game last night since missing a month because of an injured right knee.

"It was tough in Denver the other night," Antropov said, referring to the Maple Leafs' 5-3 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday. "With the thin air, you were really trying to catch your breath after 20 seconds of a shift.

"But things are getting better. I'm getting stronger with each outing."

It has been a tough season for Antropov. Before being injured, he was forced to deal with the sudden passing of his father.

"You wonder why things happen sometimes but you have to just keep on going," he said. "It was actually good that we are in the middle of the season because it keeps my mind from thinking too much about that other stuff."


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