Curtis Joseph and Scotty Bowman have slammed the door shut on any chance to join the dysfunctional Maple Leafs family for the remainder of this season.
But will the window of opportunity open again during the summer?
Don't rule anything out.
In the case of Joseph, the veteran goaltender ended any speculation of a potential imminent signing with the Leafs by yesterday inking a reported $1.5-million US, pro-rated deal to finish off the 2007-08 campaign with the Calgary Flames. The Leafs, New York Rangers and San Jose Sharks were said to be among the other teams that inquired about Cujo's services.
Just how legitimate was the Leafs interest?
"It was there when Vesa Toskala was hurt," Joseph said in a phone interview. "But he's not hurt right now."
Joseph added that "I still would love to finish my career in Toronto."
Should Joseph help Flames starter Miikka Kiprusoff lead Calgary deep into the post-season, he'd ideally like to close out his playing days with a two-year deal with the Leafs, something that might not be so far fetched if a new regime takes over the reigns of the team.
Joseph, 40, made the hockey world take notice when, as an unrestricted free agent, he led Team Canada to the championship earlier this month at the Spengler Cup in Davos, Switzerland. He then conferred with his family, who gave him the green light to leave his King City home and continue his quest for an NHL championship.
"I think the Spengler showed I can still play at a high level," Joseph said. "I just want to help a team make a run at a Stanley Cup."
When Joseph mentions reports that an aforementioned "new regime" might be in the cards for the Leafs, he likely had heard the rumblings concerning the Leafs discussions with Hall of Famer Scotty Bowman last summer.
But any hopes that Bowman might ride in like a white knight to salvage the Maple Leafs season seemed to be squelched when he was quoted in yesterday's edition of the Detroit Free Press as saying that "My commitment is with Detroit."
Bowman, who has been with the Red Wings since 1974, told the publication he doesn't see anything developing with the Leafs right now.
"I don't think they are going to do anything at all," Bowman said.
"There's nothing anybody can do there now, anyways. The season is past the halfway point. I haven't talked to them since the beginning of August."
Of course, Bowman seemed to leave a bit of light at the end of the blue-and-white tunnel when, during his now-famous interview on Hockey Night in Canada Saturday, he was asked if he would still consider joining the Leafs down the road.
Claiming such talk was just hypothetical, Bowman did add that "we'll cross that bridge if we come to it though."