Paranoia setting in

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:47 AM ET

The paranoia inside the Maple Leafs dressing room was so thick yesterday, you could have cut it with Cliff Fletcher's knife.

Referring to it as "the first day of auditions," Toronto players coming off the ice after their morning skate were peppered with media questions about who might be shipped out of town by Trader Cliff by the Feb. 26 trade deadline.

But just one day after being introduced as the team's interim general manager, Fletcher cautioned those who are predicting a widespread fire sale from the Leafs roster in the coming weeks.

NO REVOLVING DOOR

"I don't feel the players should think that way at all," said Fletcher, who addressed the team in the morning. "They're pro hockey players.

"We're not looking for a revolving door with bodies flying around all over the place."

Fletcher's day was a busy one. Before the Leafs had stepped on to the ice against the Washington Capitals last night at the Air Canada Centre, the Silver Fox had met with the board of directors of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd., then chatted with various members of the organization, including former captain Doug Gilmour.

"We had a good meeting," said Gilmour, who is listed as a player development adviser. "We'll see where it goes."

Gilmour is weighing the pros and cons between a future in management and one in coaching. He very much enjoyed being an assistant at the Spengler Cup in Davos, Switzerland, where the Curtis Joseph-led Canadian entry won the holiday tournament less than a month ago.

Gilmour also has a couple of other career options he is considering.

Fletcher admitted that "quite a few GMs" from around the league called him to wish him well. None were pestering him with trade offers, but he knows those will come.

Asked if the Leafs might actually be buyers at the deadline, Fletcher replied: "Not for a short-term fix. But we would consider being buyers if the right deal came around that would help us in the long run."

As for the players, many of the cameras and microphones were aimed at forward Jason Blake.

Unlike veterans Mats Sundin, Tomas Kaberle, Bryan McCabe, Darcy Tucker and Pavel Kubina, Blake does not have a no-trade clause in his contract.

Of course, that does not mean his five-year, $20-million US contract will be any easier to move.

"This is not the time to talk about trades," Blake said. "I don't know what goes on behind closed doors."

Many Leafs fans would like to see Fletcher move beleaguered goalie Andrew Raycroft, who was asked if the firing of John Ferguson meant he had lost his safety net.

"No, no," he said. "There definitely are no safety nets around here."


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