Injured Leafs in limbo

ROB LONGLEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:58 AM ET

They started the season as veteran free agents hoping to give the Leafs the push they needed for a long playoff run.

Instead, Jason Allison and Eric Lindros watched the team's spirited late bid from the injury ward and were left to wonder as much about an uncertain future as the frustrating past.

Both were back at the Air Canada Centre for the last rites on the season, a 5-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, but neither player is a certainty to return in the fall.

33 GAMES

"Things will sort itself out around here," Lindros said last night after a season that ended after 33 games when he suffered a wrist injury in December.

"We'll see what takes place this summer. I think there's a lot of questions that people have, myself included. We'll see what goes on."

Lindros said he spoke with Leafs general manager John Ferguson a few weeks ago and the meeting "went well."

"It's fun to play in this city," said the 33-year-old. "People here are knowledgeable about the game. There's a great buzz in this place."

Speculation is that Lindros would have to take significant cut from the $1.55 million US he earned this year to remain in blue and white.

Better news came yesterday when he had the cast removed following surgery in early March. Lindros had been preparing for a return to the lineup after being sideline for 21/2 months when he re- aggravated the injury.

"Everything went really well (with the surgery)," Lindros said. "We'll start shooting pucks again in July."

Allison had a more reserved outlook for his future.

When he broke his hand with 11 games remaining, the free agent was the team's second-leading scorer, with 60 points.

He was also in the midst of his best play of the season and was poised to help the Leafs make their run.

"It was very frustrating," Allison said last night, his first public appearance in the dressing room since the injury. "(It was) a freak accident. That kind of stuff happens.

"If this team did get in, I probably could have played halfway through the first round so there was still some hope. It is pretty disappointing."

Allison, who yesterday was announced as the Leafs' nominee for the Masterton Trophy, said he hasn't put much thought into whether he will return for a second season.

"I haven't talked to anybody here about it," the 30-year-old Allison said.

"I felt better the last 20 games or so and more like myself. But I felt really good the second half."


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