Ferguson's future tied to playoff fortunes

LANCE HORNBY and MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:10 AM ET

Another good start by the Maple Leafs or a nose dive won't likely impact the contract status of general manager John Ferguson.

Richard Peddie, the president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd., picked up this year's option on Ferguson's last Nov. 22 with the Leafs' record 12-7-4 and fourth in the conference. Despite getting 91 points, they missed the playoffs and a full contract extension for the GM now is tied to post-season qualifying.

"The decision last year was the right one, but it's a long season, 82 games," Peddie said yesterday. "Let's get it started and concentrate on playing well and not on (contracts). Ideally, we make the playoffs and John is in my office talking about a new deal."

BANGED-UP BUDS

Camp medicals did not go off without a hitch for the Leafs yesterday.

Rookie Anton Stralman, a Swedish defenceman the Leafs are high on, was diagnosed with bronchitis, while returning winger Boyd Devereaux had developed a foot infection. While both are unlikely to work out today at Ricoh Coliseum and are listed as day-to-day, Stralman's condition has the potential to keep him out longer.

Defenceman Carlo Colaiacovo, meanwhile, reported feeling "a little discomfort" in his surgically-repaired knee.

"But it's nothing to worry about," he said. "I'm hoping to be out there (today). If not, it will be a case of a day at a time. I'm aiming to be ready for the start of the season."

The injury-plagued defenceman lasted only about 20 minutes at the opening day of camp last season before requiring help to get off the ice because of wooziness.

"Maybe I should get a voodoo person in here," he said when asked how he would stave off injuries this year.

GOAL SHAVING

Ferguson had no trouble naming areas where improvement could make up the missing playoff points.

"Our goals against (up more than 60 the past two seasons from just over 200) was directly attributable," Ferguson said. "That's (divided) into things such as penalty killing and 5-on-5. We need to be better in transition, better in our zone."

Coach Paul Maurice pointed out the Leafs allowed as many shots last year as the New Jersey Devils, who are still regarded as the template for defensive hockey in the NHL.

But where the Martin Brodeur-powered Devils gave up 193 goals, Toronto surrendered 268.

"We've got to cut down on quality scoring chances," Maurice said. "But we won't sit back in our zone. It's too easy and it's terrible hockey to watch."


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