Could the Owen Nolan fiasco be Ferguson's undoing?

STEVE SIMMONS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:27 AM ET

Could John Ferguson's future as general manager of the Maple Leafs be tied to the results of the Owen Nolan injury grievance against the hockey club?

Could be.

There are those around the NHL who believe the Leafs cannot win the Nolan grievance, which could end costing the team upwards of $5 million US. And there are those who have tied the Leafs' unwillingness to spend at the trade deadline -- Ferguson actually left $3 million of budgeted salary cap money unspent -- to the coming payment which would be due to Nolan, who didn't play this season or last.

Ferguson had insisted all along, as had MLSEL chairman Larry Tanenbaum, that the Leafs would spend to the maximum allowed under the salary cap. But it didn't happen that way. And with the Nolan hearing, still unscheduled, the Leafs could wind up paying more for someone not playing for them than all but one player who currently does.

That won't look good on Ferguson, who needs something to go his way in order to win back approval of those who employ him.

This and that

Some things never change: The Bob Davidson who blew two big calls in the World Baseball Classic is the same umpire who missed the call on what should have been Kelly Gruber's World Series triple play back in 1992. And three suspect calls just happened to be against teams based outside the United States ... A Finnish newspaper indicates that Aki Berg may be finished ... When exactly, in time, did the Commonwealth Games become so irrelevant? ... If the vacationing CFL commissioner Tom Wright doesn't find a solution to the mess he has been a party to with the Ottawa Renegades, he may find himself on permanent vacation.

Here and there

The NHL could learn something from the German Elite League. In Germany, every game is worth three points: Three for a win, two for an overtime or shootout win, one for an overtime or shootout loss. It's a better system than being used in the NHL ... You can't make up the things Ferguson says. The GM on Ed Belfour's back injury: "The tests continue and what has been revealed to us continues." ... Yet another reason to admire Steve Nash: Some of his endorsement money has been used to build a post-operative ward at a hospital in Paraguay ... The beauty of March Madness: You don't have to know J.J. Redick from E.J. Hradek to enjoy it. All you need is a pool sheet ... Should we be ashamed -- or even care -- that most of us pay no attention to CIS sports, even on a championship weekend like this one? ... Team USA lost to Canada, South Korea and Mexico. In baseball. Who knew? ... This is life with the Chicago Cubs: It's only March and already Mark Prior and Kerry Wood are banged up.

Scene and heard

Paul Beeston hates taking credit for anything but he was the first executive to push for something like the World Baseball Classic. Without that initial push, there is no tournament ... Shouldn't some big-league team be throwing all kinds of cash at Seung-Yeop Lee of South Korea, who leads the World Baseball Classic in home runs with five? ... If you didn't think Joey Harrington was a stooge before, think it now. The quarterback has a chance to work with Mike Martz in Detroit and actually is whining about it. All Martz has done is give life to the careers of Trent Green, Kurt Warner and Marc Bulger -- three quarterbacks nobody believed in him ... On the list of same-team, public sporting feuds you know to place Larry Brown and Stephon Marbury right near the top. This one is delicious ... According to the Canadian Professional Boxing Federation, the heavyweight champion of Canada is Patrice L'Heureux. Anybody know him? ... Just wondering: Who dresses Steve Ludzig? ... The NHL standings lie because of an imbalanced schedule: The first-place Detroit Red Wings are 15-1 in games against divisional friends in Chicago, St. Louis and Columbus, with eight more games still to go.

And another thing

There's nothing wrong with the Fan 590's Bob McCown jumping all over Ferguson for the signing of Ed Belfour. There is something wrong when he doesn't have his facts straight on television and radio. Belfour signed in July, 2004, not at the beginning of this season as McCown said Friday. He signed a two-year deal with an option, not a one-year contract. He signed before the lockout, not after it. And shouldn't one of the panelists on Prime Time Sports have spoken up and corrected him? ... My favourite curling rink is Yukon. My favourite basketball team is UConn ... Among the many questions asked about Vancouver 2010 on an International Tourism website: "Will I be able to see polar bears in the street?" The question, for the record, came from an American ... Hockey Night In Canada won't like this: Never mind the Leafs missing the playoffs, but it's not inconceivable that Montreal, Vancouver and Edmonton won't be playing for the Stanley Cup either ... And hey, whatever became of Ron Duguay?


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