Sundin won't force change

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:08 AM ET

Mats Sundin is not about to storm into the swank offices of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. and start submitting his choices to become the team's new general manager, whether it be Cliff Fletcher, Scotty Bowman, whomever.

On a day both Sun Media's Steve Simmons and TSN's Bob McKenzie were commenting on a potential reunion between Fletcher and the Leafs, MLSEL president Richard Peddie, the man who hired present-day GM John Ferguson, politely declined an interview request yesterday.

But there was no such silence from Sundin, the long-time Maple Leafs captain who refuses to use his veteran clout to ignite changes in the team's hierarchy.

"Do you think that's my responsibility?" said Sundin, who obviously does not feel such duties fall under his job description.

"The chain of command is very simple. If I was the GM, I wouldn't want one of my employees going behind my back to (the owner). That would be very disrespectful."

Sundin reiterated for what seems to be the 1,000th time that he does not want to be dealt out of Toronto, even if some critics feel he is being selfish by not waiving his no-trade clause. A Sundin deal would, after all, bring in some much-needed resources to the Leaf organization in the form of prospects, draft picks or both.

"I can't control what people are saying," Sundin said.

The Fletcher talk is intriguing on a number of fronts.

Keep in mind that Fletcher was the man who first brought Sundin to Toronto as part of a blockbuster trade on June 28, 1994 that also saw the Leafs acquire Garth Butcher, Todd Warriner and a first-round draft pick from the Quebec Nordiques for Wendel Clark, Sylvain Lefebvre, Landon Wilson and a first rounder.

Imagine if Fletcher were to come onto the scene now and be saddled with the responsibility of talking Sundin, the franchise's career leading scorer, into accepting a trade for the good of the team, then pulling the trigger on such a deal.

Of course, this is all just mere speculation,

Having said that, another interesting Fletcher tie within the Leafs organization is Doug Gilmour, who has been assisting with player development.

It was Fletcher who made Gilmour a Leaf back in 1992 as part of a 10-player blockbuster trade with the Calgary Flames, a trade that helped transform the Leafs from sad sacks to contenders in less than a year.

Where would Gilmour fit in as part of a possible Fletcher management team?

Just something else for panicking Leaf fans to speculate about.

While several NHL GMs told Simmons that Fletcher would be an ideal choice as the temporary GM, TSN reported that the Leafs are exploring options to replace Ferguson with an interim candidate to run the show until a full-time GM can be hired. The report went on to suggest Fletcher has already been approached about the interim job.

To a man, Leafs players insisted yesterday that any seemingly inevitable changes in management, with signs pointing to Ferguson being the first casualty, were "out of their control."

Not true.

Had the players performed up to their capabilities this season and kept their team, at worst, in the midst of the playoff hunt, there would not be such a public outcry for the scalps of Ferguson and coach Paul Maurice.

Even Maurice, who has stood up for his players this season no matter how pathetically they might have performed, admitted the team has underachieved this year.

"You're not going to have nice dreams every night," said Maurice of the public and media pressure that is being aimed at him more and more with every passing day.

"There are going to be nightmares.

"It's not easy to see your team underperform - which is the case, in my opinion."

It is a dilemma for sure - one Ferguson likely won't be around to fix.


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