Ferguson to face music

Leafs GM John Ferguson is meeting with the MLSEL board today. (Sun File/Michael Peake)

Leafs GM John Ferguson is meeting with the MLSEL board today. (Sun File/Michael Peake)

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:24 AM ET

Judging by his signing of young Ian White to a three-year contract extension yesterday, it is full speed ahead for John Ferguson no matter what his critics say.

Despite predictions of gloom and doom from his legion of bashers the past two months concerning his future with the Maple Leafs -- or lack of one, in their minds -- Ferguson has carried on with the mindset that the general managers job remains his.

As a result, it comes as no surprise that Ferguson has denied all along that he will be grilled and hung out to dry when he meets with the board of Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment Ltd. today.

VISITS BOARD TODAY

While skeptics have suggested that Ferguson might be the target of a Salem witch hunt from the board, the Leafs general manager said the purpose of the meeting is to allow him to present his plans and budget for the 2007-08 season.

"It's something that takes place every year," Ferguson said last night. "In fact, last year, it was held on the exact same date -- May 9.

"We are proceeding as planned on every front -- the draft, free agents, all those things."

Don't be surprised if they attempt to bring in a free agent forward this summer such as Ryan Smyth, who would be a nice compliment on Mats Sundin's wing.

Of course, Sundin's status remains in flux, too. He is scheduled to have the torn labrum in his hip examined today in his native Sweden with the hope that he can continue his career without surgery.

Because Sweden is six hours ahead, Ferguson might already know the results of Sundin's tests when he meets with the board.

As for White, he will earn an average of $850,000 US per season over the next three years. The young defenceman, just 22, was the second highest-scoring rookie defenceman in the NHL last season with three goals and 23 assists.

"I knew all along I could play at this level," White said last night. "It's nice to be rewarded for it."


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