Leafs nothing but mediocre under Fergie

STEVE SIMMONS

, Last Updated: 7:30 AM ET

John Ferguson Jr.'s future as general manager should not be determined by the kind of weekend his Toronto Maple Leafs have.

One win, one loss, one bounce or small piece of fate should not influence whether the Leafs continue to employ Ferguson.

The matter really comes down to this: Do the Leafs want to remain somewhere between 15th and 20th in the NHL, or are they serious about contending for a Stanley Cup?

The answer with Ferguson is basic: With two seasons to rebuild, re-sign and re-structure and construct a team on his own, the Leafs have gone nowhere in the standings.

They have three of the 12 highest paid defenceman in hockey but own a porous NHL defence. They have the third highest paid player in hockey, but Mats Sundin ranks 49th in goals scored, 36th in points. They have the 23rd highest paid goalie in the game, and in this case, Ferguson got what he paid for.

The actions of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. will be apparent at the conclusion of the season: If being average is good enough for them, Ferguson will be retained.

If their goals are indeed loftier, Ferguson will be replaced.

THIS AND THAT: Wonder if Ted Rogers watches his favourite baseball team on his favourite sports network. Wonder if Mr. Rogers happened to notice incorrect scores, incorrect counts, incorrect number of outs on the graphics of his favourite network -- and that was just in the first few innings of the season opener ... If I'm picking first in my playoff pool, I'm taking Daniel Briere of Buffalo, followed by teammate Chris Drury. Last year, 14 of the top-20 playoff scorers played for either Carolina or Edmonton in the Stanley Cup finals ... Before we go sculpting Dice-K for Cooperstown, shouldn't he have to beat someone other than the Kansas City Royals? ... One reason why Martin Brodeur might want to start today against the Islanders: He would tie Grant Fuhr's NHL record of 79 starts in a season ....You can't make this stuff up: The Boston Bruins are advertising for the Dave Lewis Fantasy Camp. According to the ad, "You will be a part of the Bruins great tradition and heritage." Just wondering: Is finishing 13th in the Eastern Conference and 23rd in the NHL part of the Bruins tradition? ... What's next? The Rick Ley Fantasy Camp?

HEAR AND THERE: Jeff O'Neill bit his lip to stay publicly quiet on his embarrassing benching by the Leafs but behind closed doors he got into two heated, expletive-filled encounters one with coach, Paul Maurice, the other with and assistant coach, Dallas Eakins ... Sasha Cohen, figure skater, not necessarily funny ... Another reason why Major League Soccer confuses me. Time was, athletes used to play their games and then down some Chivas. Last night, Toronto FC played their first ever game, against Chivas. And none of that ever happens in Real Salt Lake ... Four Blue Jays -- Vernon Wells, Frank Thomas, Royce Clayton and hitting coach Mickey Brantley -- will wear the No. 42 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's first game in the major leagues ... Pavel Datsyuk has signed a seven-year contract to remain with the Red Wings. It isn't known if the signing includes post-season play as well ... On the closeups, doesn't Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon looks a little like Spencer Tracy in glasses? ... Pat Quinn was fired after the Leafs won 41 games a year ago. The Leafs will not match that total this season.

SCENE AND HEARD: Team Canada won 9-0 and 8-0 in its first two games at the Women's World Hockey Championships. Team USA won 9-0 and 9-1. Women's hockey won't have any credibility world wide until the scores start to get more competitive ... Appearing in Playboy Magazine next month: Steve Nash, fully clothed, but answering all the right questions ... Go figure the Arizona Diamondbacks: Orlando Hudson, a magician in the field but not at the plate, is batting third ... First quibble of the season with Jays' manager John Gibbons: Just because you've anointed Jason Frasor as your set-up man doesn't mean he has to work the eighth inning every day. If Casey Janssen is mowing people down, leave him in for a few more batters ... Tampa Bay rookie Elijah Dukes looks like he should be playing centre field in the summer, middle linebacker in the fall .... Steve Sax is throwing out the first pitch at the Dodgers home opener. Apparently catchers will be stationed behind the plate and along the first base line. Just in case.

AND ANOTHER THING: A year ago, Leaf fans were drooling about Justin Pogge being the goalie of the future. Now, they're just drooling. Statistically, Pogge was the 11th best rookie goaltender in the American Hockey League, 38th in goals against average and 35th in save percentage ... Sad to see CFL lifer James Curry accused of murdering his girlfriend in California. That comes as something of a shock to those who know him well.


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