Peddie knows GM a victim of circumstance

LANCE HORNBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:35 AM ET

Cliff Fletcher fared no better than John Ferguson at solving the Maple Leafs' no-trade conundrum, but this time Richard Peddie won't say he made a mistake picking a general manager.

Peddie, the president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd., refused to bash Fletcher for thus far failing to unknot the deals for five Leafs, who are tradable commodities and a strain on the rebuilding club's salary cap. Nor does he fear Fletcher alienated captain Mats Sundin from coming back next season by asking the franchise scoring leader to waive his no-trade clause.

With the National Hockey League trade deadline looming at 3 p.m. today, Fletcher has said he can't guarantee he'll make even one move.

"I know Cliff has been interactive (trying various trade scenarios)," Peddie said yesterday. "Listen, he's the perfect person for this job, a great personality. He has kept me informed every step of the way and he has been able to pull the trigger on some big deals in the past."

Peddie, who fired his hand-picked man Ferguson a month ago, in part for saddling the team with so many long-term deals, realizes he gave Fletcher a tough task. Sundin, Darcy Tucker, Tomas Kaberle, Pavel Kubina and Bryan McCabe were adamant they wouldn't volunteer to leave and never relented.

"There are something like 166 no-trade contracts in the NHL (75 are in effect for this season); some of them may move, some not," Peddie said. "I wasn't in the room when John negotiated those contracts. Did the players give up money and length to (guard) those no-trade deals? We don't know that."

As to whether the MLSEL board will want Fletcher or his eventual successor to back away from offering no-trades in future deals, Peddie reserved comment.

"I don't know if the whole league will learn something from what happened here," Peddie said.

Peddie was optimistic Sundin wouldn't walk away after July 1 and leave Toronto without any return from a trade and minus its leading scorer. At age 37, Sundin might also take a training camp holiday, as Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne did with Anaheim this season.

"It's Mats' call, but he's on record as saying he loves the team and loves the market," Peddie said. "That window still falls under Cliff's responsibility (Fletcher is under contract until August 2009). Cliff is creative and maybe we can get Mats to re-up by the fall."


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