Futures of Maple Leafs GM, Sundin and Tucker all intertwined ... Wells a man of his word ... Graham does former Raptors GM proud

STEVE SIMMONS

, Last Updated: 1:02 PM ET

The futures of both Darcy Tucker and Mats Sundin intertwine with the still undetermined fate of Leafs general manager John Ferguson.

While Ferguson's contract has been extended by a year, that doesn't guarantee he will doing the job next season in Toronto. In fact, it has been assumed that if the Leafs miss the playoffs for a second consecutive season, Ferguson will be fired.

Which brings up a dilemma all its own: How does ownership puts its faith in a general manager that it hasn't completely committed to with important decisions to be made regarding Tucker and Sundin's future?

If Ferguson is the general manager for the future, then he should be making determinations regarding the expiring contracts of Tucker and Sundin. But if he's not, he shouldn't be part of the determining process.

These are the Leafs two best forwards. Sundin, may or may not be heading toward retirement. He may or may not be available come the Feb. 27 trade deadline.

Tucker is tempted by free agency. The Leafs strongest asset is their power play and Tucker and Sundin are integral parts of it. Who makes the call, if any, on their futures?

The grist for the rumour mill has only just begun.

THIS AND THAT

Confirm or deny: The Edmonton Oilers would part with Raffi Torres and a No. 1 draft pick in order to add Tucker to their lineup ... Should Sundin waive his no-trade clause at the trade deadline -- and the only way he would do that would be if he thinks the Leafs won't make the playoffs -- don't be surprised if Anaheim takes a run at the captain. Sundin would have $1.7 million US left on his contract at that time and the Ducks have cap room ... Vernon Wells is a man of his word. He talked frankly about what it would take for him to remain with the Blue Jays and when it was presented, he accepted ... Friday was a big day for Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd: The Leafs won, the Raptors won, and Toronto FC made a trade ... How's this, though, for a Boxing Day present from your friends at MLSEL? You're home with the family over Christmas and want to watch the Leafs. Only one problem: The game against Minnesota on the 26th is only available on Leafs TV.

HEAR AND THERE

The simple interpretation of how Jim Balsillie's bid to own the Pittsburgh Penguins fell apart: Rich guy wanted assurance from the NHL he could move the team anywhere he wanted. The league wouldn't give him that. Rich guy took his ball and went home ... Is it because we're Canadian, the nation that invented hang-wringing, that we make more noise over who got cut from Team Canada, junior version, than we do over who actually makes the team ... I give up, who in hell is Joe Pavelski and how is it he has seven goals in his first 11 NHL games? ... Just for once, couldn't Jeremy Roenick shut his yap, turn down some face time, and take some responsibility for his inaction in Phoenix? ... Joel Piniero, who once won 16 games for the Seattle Mariners, now is available. Couldn't he help the Jays as a fourth or fifth starter? ... The Red Sox, originators of the slogan "25 players, 25 cabs" have created a chasm already with the signing of Japanese pitcher, Daisuke Matsuzaka, who along with the millions gets his own physical therapist, massage therapist, interpreter and personal assistant upon joining the team. (All I want for Christmas is to be represented by Scott Boras.)

SCENE AND HEARD

Somewhere, Rob Babcock is smiling: Joey Graham outplayed Vince Carter on Friday night and the Raptors beat the New Jersey Nets ... It's early but Miami Heat coach Pat Riley thinks Steve Nash should win a third consecutive MVP award in the NBA. Best competition is coming from Kobe Bryant, who singlehandedly is carrying the Lakers ... Tell me again how Nick Saban chose Daunte Culpepper over Drew Brees to play quarterback for the Miami Dolphins ... Question: If the Argos can't convince Casey Printers to come back to the CFL, do they have a Plan B for a starting quarterback? ... It's no accident the San Diego Chargers are Super Bowl contenders: In 2001, the Chargers sent the first pick in the draft to Atlanta, which selected Michael Vick. The Chargers used their picks from the deal to take LaDainian Tomlinson and Brees. Then in 2004, when Eli Manning said he wouldn't play in San Diego, they swapped him for draft picks Philip Rivers, Shawne Merriman and Nate Kaeding. Those moves were made by the late John Butler and A.J. Smith, the same people who decided to bring Doug Flutie back to the NFL.

AND ANOTHER THING

Quick prediction: Sam Mitchell lasts the season but won't be coaching the Raptors next year ... Fame is indeed fleeing: On Wednesday, Toronto's O.J. Santiago signed with the New England Patriots. They gave him jersey No. 88. On Friday, they cut him ... Can't remember an athlete who was more fluid and more skilled and ultimately less productive than R. Jay Soward, released by the Argos the other day ... Bet you didn't know that Hans Schmidt's real name was Guy Larose, no relation to the hockey player ... Alexei Zhitnik, traded yesterday, was the subject of one of my favourite arena signs. It read: Eat Zhit ... Watched Don Chevrier and Tony Kubek call a Jays game on ESPN Classic Canada the other night. This should be mandatory viewing for Jays' ownership to see how far the mighty have fallen on television ... Time was, you had to pretty much be assaulted to be awarded a penalty shot in the NHL. Now, somebody breathers on you the wrong way and you get one ... And hey, whatever became of Mike Sirotka?


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