Trade not likely: GM

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:33 AM ET

John Ferguson would not mind improving his team, but he said he has not been burning up other general managers' phones because of the Maple Leafs' present slide.

"We are looking to improve our club internally and externally and that never changes," Ferguson said. "It does not change when you have won six or lost five. It is an ongoing process not reserved to this stretch."

It's a greater challenge for Ferguson to make any trade of significance given the salary cap and the Leafs' payroll, with which they do not have much breathing room under the $39-million US cap. Though the Leafs' plight has made clear the need for an experienced defensive defenceman, Ferguson maintained the team as it is now does not concern him.

"We like the group we have put together," Ferguson said. "We have a lot of faith in returning players and guys we have added. We have room if there is something that makes sense for us. There won't be any mortgaging of the future for short-term fixes. This club is going to win and win the right way.

"We have a real strong group. Aside from the past five games, we were nine game over .500 two weeks ago. We find ourselves having given back those games and we are going to seek ways to get it going the right way."

The Leafs don't want to use the absences of top defenceman Bryan McCabe (groin), top goalscorer Darcy Tucker (ribs) and Eric Lindros (wrist) as excuses but they miss the three greatly.

MORE FOR BELFOUR?

Coach Pat Quinn said he had not decided whether Ed Belfour would be back in goal tonight or be replaced by Mikael Tellqvist. Belfour allowed seven goals on 41 shots on Saturday night.

One part of the approach the Leafs will have to change will be how it handles the line of Jason Spezza between Daniel Alfredsson and Dany Heatley. Not including shootout goals, the trio has combined for 18 of the Sens' 30 goals against Toronto in five games, all Ottawa wins.

"They're only human," Matt Stajan said. "We have to minimize our turnovers against them. We have three games left against these guys and we have to prove a point here. We can't let them keep doing what they have been doing."


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