Eagles, apparently, do not enjoy the cold.
With that in mind, Maple Leafs goaltender Eddie (The Eagle) Belfour was excused from the team's outdoor practice at Rennie Park yesterday as a precautionary measure to protect his brittle back.
Of course, Maple Leafs general manager John Ferguson was quick to caution observers not to read too much into Belfour's absence. He insists that Belfour will remain the team's No. 1 goalie despite the Leafs' six-game losing skid and the emergence of backup Mikael Tellqvist.
"We are real comfortable with the arrangement as it sits," Ferguson said. "We're real encouraged by Tellqvist's progress as an NHL player this year.
"He's made good strides. He's now proving he's a capable NHL backup. Can he be more? We think so. At the same time, Ed Belfour has won a Cup. He's done great things for this organization for a long time and continues to play at a high level. Those decisions ultimately are made by our coach, with input from me, and with feedback from performance.
"We're comfortable with the 1-2 punch we have right now."
Justin Pogge is proving that he is no flash in the pan.
The Leafs prospect, who led Canada to gold at the recent world junior championship, has won 12 consecutive games for the Calgary Hitmen. He has not lost a game since Nov. 16 when the Hitmen dropped a 3-0 decision to Prince Albert.
Pogge, who is tied for the shutout lead among goaltenders in the Western Hockey League with eight, was named the WHL's player of the week on Tuesday.
Pogge, 19, was the 90th overall pick in the 1994 entry draft by the Leafs.
"I think (trade talks) have picked up lately. A lot of teams are meeting with their scouting staffs ... to see what might be out there. That's occurring right now."
-- Ferguson, discussing the possibility of increased trade activity leading up to the March 9 trade deadline.