Aubin plays waiting game

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:42 AM ET

PITTSBURGH -- If there was a perfect time and place for Jean-Sebastien Aubin to make a cameo appearance this year for the Maple Leafs, it was last night.

The former Pittsburgh Penguins' No. 1 pick, squeezed off their roster by young bucks Johan Hedberg and Marc-Andre Fleury, would've dearly loved the chance against his old team.

Leafs coach Pat Quinn gave serious consideration to using the Marlies call-up in goal, with Mikael Tellqvist playing four straight including the night before in New York, with more work ahead if Ed Belfour remains out with back woes.

"I deferred until this morning and then decided to go with Telly," Quinn said. "It's not that Aubin couldn't come in and win for us. It is an intriguing thought. I was told he'd beaten their minor-league team (the Wilkes Barre Penguins) twice this year and they're a very good club."

But the 5-2 loss to the Rangers on Saturday, which worsened the Leafs' bleak playoff situation, gave Quinn no option but Tellqvist. Aubin, an early riser yesterday for the Leafs' optional skate at his old Mellon Arena haunt, hadn't got his hopes up too high.

"Obviously they did the right thing and went with the guy who has been here all year, the guy who is going to carry us," Aubin said.

But the 28-year-old Montrealer still is counting on making a mark on the National Hockey League before his career is done.

While he could be on the Leafs' bench for another month and not see action, his name remains on the AHL playoff eligibility list. With the Marlies, he had a save percentage just under .900 and a record of 19-18 with two shootout losses.

He will be a free agent next year unless the Leafs qualify him. That will depend on what they pay Belfour, either in a new contract or a buyout. If Belfour departs and Tellqvist is No. 1, the Leafs could also import a cheap NHL backup or judge the training camp performance of young Justin Pogge and Tuukka Rask and perhaps let one be Tellqvist's understudy.

"You never know what can happen," Aubin said.

"I see myself working very hard and showing them I'm capable, if not here, then somewhere else."

Aubin joined the farm team on a trial basis during the 2004-05 season and signed as a free agent in August. The season before, he appeared in just 22 games in his last days with the Pens.

"I started as a back-up (in 1998-99 during the Tom Barrasso era)," he said. "A few injuries gave me a chance to play. I had the No. 1 job for almost two years and it was great. After that, I lost it a little bit. But I still battled and had some good years here."


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