Ferguson's not the right man for the job

STEVE SIMMONS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:59 AM ET

Why should we believe in John Ferguson anymore?

What has he done to earn our trust, to rally our support, to dispel the cynicism and questioning that is forever Maple Leafs hockey?

What has he done except talk in circles, take the franchise along with him, and watch the decent team he inherited get weaker and weaker under his leadership?

The time for training wheels is over. The always doubtable Richard Peddie talks about his people learning and growing on the job.

But the time for inexpensive hires is over.

Ferguson has displayed a lack of vision, lack of creativity, lack of anything resembling on-ice progress during his time as Leafs general manager. The easy thing, should the Leafs miss the playoffs, will be the firing of coach Pat Quinn. That's the convenient way out for most professional franchises.

But the Leafs need to go deeper. They need to find the right general manager.

This is Toronto.

The man they once believed in is not up to the job.

THIS AND THAT

We can say with near certainty now: Barry Bonds is full of bull. We know this because one of the steroids he was allegedly taking was trenbolon, normally used for cattle ... Is it just coincidence that one of the investigative reporters who co-authored the book that exposes Bonds' steroid abuse has the last name of Wada? ... Earth to baseball commissioner Bud Selig. Come in, Bud. You have a problem. A big problem. Time to get your head out of the sand and deal with it ... Will Henry Aaron, a man of great dignity, divorce himself from anything to do with the Bonds' home-run chase? Would you? ... There have been enough special moments already in the World Baseball Classic to keep it around for the future. And the playoffs haven't even begun ... The Raptors are in a difficult position with guard Mike James. If they sign him and commit too much money, they could find themselves with another Alvin or Jerome Williams on their hands, discounting the injury situation. If they let him go, they may not be able to replace him. This is the first tough decision for general manager Bryan Colangelo, and to date there is no obvious answer.

HERE AND THERE

Ed Belfour had 17 shutouts in his first two seasons with the Leafs. He has none this season. Is that because a) he has lost it; b) smaller goalie equipment; c) Leafs defence is painfully weak; d) the new NHL rules; e) all of the above ... Martin Brodeur will have to play four more seasons in order to break the record that once seemed unbreakable -- Terry Sawchuk's 100-shutout mark. He currently is at 80 ... Tie Domi gets the 1,000th game aren't-you-special treatment one Saturday night from the Leafs and then gets sat down six nights later for what would have been his 1,002nd game. Why? So Ben Ondrus could play all of six minutes against an American Hockey League team called the Islanders? If the Leafs want to find out if Ondrus can play, let him play. Doing the in between dance is meaningless ... Somehow I can hear them now, one louder than the other: Jim (Shaky) Hunt, Boom Boom Geoffrion and Kirby Puckett, all of them now gone, trying to get a word in edge wise, swapping stories ... John Muckler shone at the trade deadline, stealing that baby, Tyler Arnason, from Chicago and picking up goalie, Mike Morrison, as insurance. If the Senators do for Arnason what they've done for Dany Heatley, this is an outright steal at a very cheap price.

SCENE AND HEARD

Terry Bradshaw in a movie with Carrie Bradshaw? Go figure ... Still six months away from his 16th birthday, John Tavares has scored 43 goals in 61 games for Oshawa in the Ontario Hockey League, most of them coming against goalies three and four years older than him ... I basically hated Esteban Loiaza when he pitched for the Blue Jays. I basically still hate him after the Mexican demolition of Team Canada ... If Eric Tillman is the only choice to bring sanity back to the Ottawa Renegades, why is it taking so long to re-hire him? ... An embarrassing loss to little known Javier Mora all but ends the once promising boxing career of Canadian heavyweight contender Kirk Johnson ... And this from the very funny Norman Chad: "OLN no longer uses Nielsen ratings for its NHL games; it simply asks viewers to sign in to its guest book." ... The problem with the notion of platooning Eric Hinske and Alexis Rios in right field for the Blue Jays? Rios, the right-handed hitter with flickering promise, would only start against left-handed pitching. Which is about two out of every six games.

AND ANOTHER THING

The biggest trade deadline mistake: Pierre Lacroix believing that Jose Theodore is Patrick Roy. Lacroix has expensively gambled on a goalie whose reputation has far exceeded his productivity .... Should Jussi Jokinen, now 9-for-9 in shootout goals, get some MVP votes? Who else has been responsible for more wins by a single team? ... A quick Luke Richardson story. Floyd Smith, the Leafs chief scout at the time, didn't want to draft Richardson in 1987. John Brophy, the Leafs coach, did. Brophy won the argument, fighting for a tough defenceman. The player Smith wanted: Joe Sakic ... The best quiet pickup at the deadline: The Dallas addition of Willie Mitchell, who is a solid top four defenceman for a team that's already solid ... The NHL has to change the three-point games in the future: It distorts the playoff chases when a team loses a game and still gets a point ... Another thing the NHL must change: The stick measurement rule. Either punish players severely for using illegal curves or ban the measurements entirely ... And hey, whatever became of Derek Laxdal?


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