Mats Sundin admits he will keep an open mind when Maple Leafs general manager Cliff Fletcher approaches him about his future.
That does not mean he will waive his no-trade clause in order to allow the Leafs to move him by the Feb. 26 trade deadline.
Nor is it an indication that he will back off his stance of wanting to remain in Toronto blue and white for the remainder of his illustrious career.
But at least the Toronto captain seems to be receptive to the prospect of having a serious heart-to-heart chat with Fletcher in the coming weeks as the deadline creeps closer.
"We'll have to see," Sundin said after the Leafs' 3-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues last night at the Air Canada Centre. "We will listen and see what (Fletcher) has to say.
"I have no problem talking to him."
When Sundin mentions the word "we," he is including his longtime North American agent, J.P. Barry, who obviously wants to be included in any such discussion.
With the Leafs having dropped their second consecutive decision, at least Fletcher is keeping things in perspective. When asked if he had talked with Barry, Fletcher said jokingly: "Who's J.P. Barry?"
Fletcher, who briefly spoke with Sundin on Monday, said he would sit down with the captain for a more serious meeting closer to the deadline but "right now there is nothing going on in the league."
Well, almost nothing.
"I've talked to a couple of general managers on a preliminary basis," Fletcher admitted.
Expect the chatter to heat up with every passing week.
With Fletcher having spent much of the day picking the brains of the team's scouting staff, it was all hands on deck up in the Air Canada Centre press box watching the Maple Leafs drop a tight contest to the visiting Blues.
Director of amateur scouting Dave Morrison, pro scouts Shawn Simpson and Don Granato, amateur scout George (Chief) Armstrong, assistant general managers Mike Penny and Jeff Jackson and player development adviser Doug Gilmour were all part of Fletcher's entourage last night, carefully monitoring the play of the Leafs as the clock clicks down to the trade deadline.
"We are evaluating the organization and players around the NHL," Fletcher said as he held court in the first intermission. "Also, we're looking at guys with pro contracts in the lower leagues.
"As well, we also made up schedules for our scouts as we get closer to the trade deadline. Doug Gilmour and Mike Penny will be out (scouting) as part of that."
MEETING OF MINDS
Gilmour and Penny will join Simpson and Granato in the quest to seek out potential trade partners over the next few weeks.
Question is, who, if anyone, will Fletcher be able to peddle if the expected rebuilding job actually happens?
Sundin aside, the names of Jason Blake and Darcy Tucker have sparked plenty of speculation around town ever since Fletcher replaced John Ferguson eight days ago.
Blake, who had a goal and an assist last night, seems to be picking up his game. That might not be enough for a team to want to pick up his five-year, $20-million US contract, especially for a guy who has just 10 goals.
Unlike Blake, Tucker has a no-trade clause in his deal, which still has three years remaining at $3 million per season. While he chipped in with a pair of assists last night, Tucker has shown no willingness, at least publicly, to waive that clause.
Tucker has 13 points in 44 games this season.