A whole lot of nothing

There had been calls on Ed Belfour and Bryan McCabe, but nothing tangible enough to cause Leafs GM...

There had been calls on Ed Belfour and Bryan McCabe, but nothing tangible enough to cause Leafs GM John Ferguson Jr. to take action. (Toronto Sun/David Lucas)

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:39 AM ET

It was just five minutes into practice and predictions of a potential Maple Leafs blockbuster rippled through Lakeshore Lions Arena.

Where was Darcy Tucker? Where was Ed Belfour? Why were they not on the ice?

Had John Ferguson Jr., pulled the trigger on that whopper deal and shipped them out?

Shame on us. We should have known better than to make silly assumptions such as that.

Tucker, the media later was informed, has an ailing knee and was getting treatment.

Belfour, meanwhile, skated on to the ice 10 minutes into the workout and began facing shots.

There would be no trades on this day, much to the chagrin of the Leafs Nation.

Nothing.

They were not buyers. They were not sellers.

There had been calls on Belfour and Bryan McCabe, but nothing tangible enough to cause Ferguson to take action. At least that was the company line.

Luke Richardson aside, what you've seen all season is pretty much what you'll get the rest of the way.

The same team that came into yesterday's 3 o'clock trade deadline six points behind the Montreal Canadiens for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

"We were looking at a number of different things, but being six points out and having injuries to four of our young blueliners (Carlo Colaiacovo, Andy Wozniewski, Jay Harrison and Stafan Kronwall) hampered some of the things we tried to do," Ferguson said. "Remember, this was a team that was nine games over .500 in early January.

"We feel we can still make the playoffs. Once there, there is not a team in our conference we are afraid of. But we were not shopping prospects for short-term bandaids.

"We'll take where we're at, not just this season but through the summer."

Ferguson will have far more financial flexibility under the salary cap this off-season than he did last summer and is banking on those funds to make a splash in free agency.

That is little comfort to his growing legion of critics, who have little confidence that the third-year GM can acquire the talent needed to elevate the team to the top of the East.

As was the case again yesterday, Ferguson is great at talking the talk. Demanding fans would rather he walk the walk.

In terms of McCabe, Ferguson has exclusive negotiating rights until July 1 when the veteran defenceman becomes an unrestricted free agent. For what it's worth, Ferguson referred to McCabe's play this season as "tremendous."

"I still hope a new deal can be worked out here. This is where I want to be," McCabe said.

Ferguson also came to the defence of Belfour.

"We've been happy with the service Ed Belfour has provided us and we feel it will continue," he said.

The smart option would have been to deal the struggling veteran. But Belfour's $1.5-million US buyout for next season was a deterrent for interested teams.

Tucker, meanwhile, remains a question mark for tonight's game against the New York Islanders in Uniondale.

"I'll test the knee in the morning and see how it goes," Tucker said.

The status of Nik Antropov (shoulder) also remains up in the air. He took part in a full practice yesterday, but still requires the medical thumbs-up to see game action.


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