Maple Leafs ownership hasn't given up on the playoffs, obliged to put the wheels in motion to distribute playoff tickets to subscribers despite being seven points out of a post-season berth before last night.
"We have plans for playoff tickets and prices for next year, but we will wait to make that announcement," said Richard Peddie, president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd.
Toronto has 18 games remaining and to get to 90 points, which is this year's projected post-season cutoff, They'll need a strong finish along the lines of 13-4-1, plus plenty of help from other teams to climb the Eastern Conference ladder.
JFJ WEIGHS IN
Fired Leafs GM John Ferguson was a panelist on TSN's trade deadline special yesterday and defended some of his controversial contracts. He insisted players such as Tomas Kaberle "were getting (no-trade) contracts in Toronto or somewhere else".
"This team has some good parts that haven't played up to (potential)," Ferguson said of the Leafs' inconsistent season, pointing in particular to the previous night's shocking 5-0 win in Ottawa.
As for leaving Cliff Fletcher in the lurch, Ferguson didn't sound surprised his successor hasn't pulled a rabbit out of a hat in trying to move the five no-trades by 3 p.m. yesterday.
"He might have been handcuffed, but he wasn't blindfolded when he came in," Ferguson said.
SHUFFLING THE DECK
Given the trades that sent Hal Gill, Wade Belak and Chad Kilger packing yesterday, the Leafs have called up forwards Kris Newbury and Jeremy Williams from their Toronto Marlies farm club.
Florida Panthers general manager/coach Jacques Martin was happy to add some muscle to his team in the form of Belak.
"We've talked, (the media) has talked and the fans have talked about us getting more toughness," Martin said. "Now we've acquired a guy who is a legitimate heavyweight and has great character."