There was some hope in the Darcy Tucker camp earlier this summer that a new multi-year contract with the Maple Leafs might be reached before the regular season began, thus removing a potential distraction for the 28-goal winger.
At $1.6 million US on the last year of his deal, Tucker can expect a decent raise.
General manager John Ferguson did not seem optimistic earlier this week when asked if there would be something in place by Oct. 4.
"I certainly wouldn't speculate with odds along those lines," Ferguson said. "We've talked at various times and had another chance last week. (But) we're not in position of setting any timelines at this point."
Tucker is going to stick to a pre-season pledge to drop the subject with the media during the regular season, wary of the distractions that followed when details of Bryan McCabe's contract began leaking out last season.
Coach Paul Maurice will get his remaining two goaltenders, Jean-Sebastien Aubin and rookie Justin Pogge, into the three games this weekend. A sentimentalist might suggest the Montreal-born Aubin would enjoy playing in his hometown tomorrow night, rather than here against the Habs tonight or Sunday in Halifax against Ottawa.
"I'm not very sentimental," Maurice shot back yesterday.
"I'd like to get each guy (Aubin, Pogge, Andrew Raycroft and Mikael Tellqvist) in a home game and a road game, but also make sure that Andrew is getting the starts he needs to be ready (for Oct. 4)."
Splitting games remains out of the question.
"I don't think it helps the goaltenders," Maurice said.
"Maybe it helps us assess them, but they never go into a real game thinking they're just going to play 30 minutes. If you give up a bad goal early in the second period, then you're thinking 'I just have to stick around for six or seven minutes.' You want them to think they can get through the whole game."
The Leafs still hint they might start the season with three goalies, assuming Pogge starts with the Marlies.
"I want (the backups) to play as hard as they can and it will sort itself out," Maurice said. "It's a competitive line of work and you have to be good every chance you get. If it makes sense to start the year with three, then we will."