Top Leafs stories

LANCE HORNBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:29 AM ET

FIRST HALF

Five stories that defined the Maple Leafs' first half of the season:

1. THANKS BOSS: In the midst of a November losing streak, president and CEO Richard Peddie put more strain on John Ferguson, telling Sun Media: "It was a mistake on my part for not fully understanding at the time what the job of being in this market fully entailed.

"It probably was the wrong place for a rookie general manager to start. I mean, all GMs make mistakes, but they are not under the constant microscope and scrutiny that you have in Toronto. That is all hindsight now. John has had time to learn a lot since then."

2. D'OH!: Bryan McCabe's own goal in overtime against Buffalo tops a series of costly late game errors that included Alexei Ponikarovsky's empty net gaffe in Carolina and Pavel Kubina's broken stick in Tampa.

3. OUCH: McCabe's broken hand, Vesa Toskala's groin, Kyle Wellwood's hernia. Knee injuries slowed Carlo Colaiacovo, Darcy Tucker and Pavel Kubina.

4. SLUMPS VS. TRIUMPHS: Jason Blake vs. Nik Antropov, Tucker vs. Alex Steen, Toskala vs. Andrew Raycroft

5. SUNDIN SHINES: The captain becomes Toronto's franchise leader in points with No. 917, passing Darryl Sittler.

LOOKING AHEAD TO THE SEASON'S SECOND HALF

Five stories to watch in the Maple Leafs' second half of the season:

1. WILL FERGIE BE FIRED?: Likely not, as long as the Leafs are in the playoff picture. According to whom you believe at the top of MLSEL, he is subject to a job review later this month.

2. SAYONARA SUNDIN?: He controls his trade destiny and at present wants to stay. But his dwindling one-year contract would make him attractive should the Leafs be out of the race at the Feb. 26 deadline. It also will depend on Ferguson's status.

3. NET RESULTS: The Leafs must decide to stick it out with Raycroft as their insurance plan, trade him or put him on waivers and turn to Scott Clemmensen or Justin Pogge.

4. TALENT SEARCH: If the Leafs get hot, Ferguson will look at fleecing a non-contender for some deadline depth or start raiding the successful first-place Marlies.

5. MEDICAL MARVELS: Can Antropov, Colaiacovo and Toskala stay healthy and will mainstays such as Sundin, Tomas Kaberle and Toskala wear down by April?


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