Deal 'never crossed my mind'

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:47 AM ET

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Pavel Kubina calls the entire mess "a misunderstanding."

With Leafs Nation in an uproar over Kubina's alleged backing out of a potential deal on Tuesday that would have sent him to the San Jose Sharks, the hulking defenceman and his agent attempted to set the record straight yesterday.

The Leafs appeared to be under the impression that, prior to the team's 5-0 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Monday night, Kubina was open to a trade. As a result, management allegedly was caught dumbfounded when the veteran blue liner stated after the Sens game that he did not want to go anywhere.

Kubina is being painted as a villain in Toronto for the decision, an image both he and his representative, Petr Svoboda, want to clean up.

"About 4:15 Eastern time (Monday), I got a call from (Sharks general manager) Doug Wilson," Svoboda said yesterday from his California office. "He told me he had the rights to talk to Pavel.

"I phoned Pavel but he was still sleeping at the hotel. I called him again and he was on the bus going to the rink. He said he needed some time to think about it.

"After the game, Pavel told me he didn't want to go anywhere."

The controversy over the Kubina affair was fuelled at Cliff Fletcher's post-trade deadline press conference Tuesday when the Leafs' interim GM provided his version of what happened. At no time did he identify Kubina by name.

"(The player) told the agent he'd go to this team ... but after the (victory over Ottawa) he told his agent he would not go," Fletcher told reporters at the Air Canada Centre.

There obviously is a difference of opinion between the general manager and the player's camp here. Just another episode of the ongoing Maple Leafs soap opera.

Asked about it yesterday, Fletcher was not as animated as the previous day.

"Doug Wilson asked if he could give it a shot and I said sure," Fletcher said. "(On Tuesday morning) I was told (Kubina) had said no. I have no idea of the timeline. That involved Doug, the player and the agent."

Kubina was grilled on several subjects by the media yesterday, including the caveat in his contract that makes his no-trade clause moot from June 20 to Aug. 15, in the event the Leafs miss the playoffs this year.

"If they want to trade me in the summer, they can," Kubina said. "But I didn't want to leave right now. That's not in my personality.

"I didn't want to be a rent-a-player. I know what it takes to win a Stanley Cup. I did it with Tampa (in 2004). You have to be with the team from the start of the season, not just half way through.

"I hope my future is still with the Toronto Maple Leafs. It never even crossed my mind to leave. I told my agent I wasn't going to leave this team right now. It's our fault where we are in the standings but we all feel we still have a shot at the (playoffs)."

The bottom line? The Leafs remain burdened with Kubina and his $5-million-a-year contract for the rest of this season, plus two more. For the time being, anyway.

But if the Leafs brass has its way, don't be surprised if it does everything possible to move him during that seven-week window in the summer when his no-trade clause is not in play.


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