Leafs set to pull plug on Domi, Belfour

STEVE SIMMONS and LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:21 AM ET

The Tie Domi decision is going right to the 11th hour.

While it has been long assumed the Maple Leafs will buy out the final year of Domi's $1.25-million US contract, thus ending his long association with the team, as of last night the process had not yet begun.

Two National Hockey League sources said Domi's name had not yet appeared on the league's waiver wire, which a player must be on by noon today as the first step to a buyout.

Most observers are expecting the Leafs to part ways with Domi by the 5 p.m. buyout deadline, but aren't sure what the hold-up had been. Yesterday, Dallas Stars winger Bill Guerin and former Leaf Travis Green, most recently with the Boston Bruins, cleared waivers and were bought out.

In Domi's case, should the buyout take place, all $1.25 million of his salary counts against the cap, half this coming season, half the season after. The Leafs would have to pay the 36-year-old Domi, who was unavailable for comment yesterday, $833,333 to walk away. The 15-year veteran, who has spent the past 10 seasons with the Leafs, has said he wants to retire as a Leaf.

But the Leafs will have a different look by tomorrow, regardless of what happens with Domi or any free-agent shopping.

They are expected to trigger the buyout option on goalie Ed Belfour's contract. General manager John Ferguson had given Belfour's agent, Ron Salcer, the ability to work out a trade with another club -- which would have saved the Leafs money and earned Belfour more -- but that doesn't appear to have gone anywhere. Belfour's $1.5-million buyout will count against the salary cap -- $750,000 this coming season, the same figure the year after.

The Detroit Red Wings, who had Belfour under consideration in 2002 when they chose Curtis Joseph, are said to be interested in Belfour as a free agent, a one-year bridge to prospect Jimmy Howard. The Florida Panthers also might have an interest in Belfour.

Jason Allison, who overcame career-threatening injuries to resurrect his career with a 60-point season here last year, will be off the books tomorrow, along with Eric Lindros. Both might return at significantly lower salaries.

All Leafs whose contracts were up received qualifying offers with the exception of minor leaguers David Turon and Mike Hoffman. Unproductive winger Nik Antropov is pondering a two-way offer from the team.

Ferguson has also let Scott McKay go after 10 years working with the equipment staff. The 35-year-old McKay often played goal when Belfour took a day off from workouts.

"It was explained to me that they were making changes," a disappointed McKay said yesterday. "But it was a great experience and I'd like to thank everyone with the organization."


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