Peddie takes middle ground

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:27 AM ET

MONTREAL -- It wasn't the ringing endorsement John Ferguson probably was looking for.

Asked bluntly yesterday if Ferguson was safe in his position as general manager of the sagging Maple Leafs, Richard Peddie would say only that Ferguson's performance would be closely evaluated and dissected in a couple of months.

"He's got one more year to go (on his deal) and he gets his review in May,"said Peddie, the president of Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment Ltd.

"We all do.

"I think he has done some good things. He has had to go from a buying strategy to a building strategy and that takes time. We knew coming out of the lockout that there were teams in better (cap-space) position than we were and that it would take patience."

Having said that, Peddie also understands that the Air Canada Centre likely will be out of the loop when the upcoming NHL and NBA playoffs come around.

"Our goal as a corporation is to win championships and it's highly unlikely we will do that this year. It's disappointing. We haven't won in a long time and that disturbs us."

If the prospect of missing the post-season is not disturbing enough, rumours of communication problems between Ferguson and head coach Pat Quinn continue to circulate.

"Sometimes things get missed," Peddie said. "But I know they chat all the time."

Ferguson has done an admirable job in bulking up the team's scouting and player development areas. But overpaying brittle goalie Ed Belfour and bringing back underachievers such as Aki Berg and Nik Antropov has left him as a target of the fans' wrath.

Quinn, meanwhile, has one year remaining in his deal. There is speculation that his contract contains a minefield of clauses that would make moving him out for heir apparent Paul Maurice an expensive one.


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