Was this, in fact, a sign of the times?
For those Maple Leafs who took part in the team's optional workout at a suburban Tampa practice rink yesterday, the sign that greeted them outside their dressing room upon their return to the St. Pete Times Forum caught them off guard.
"Washington Generals," said the sign, referring to the basketball team that has been the long-time whipping boys of the Harlem Globetrotters.
The sign, of course, was in reference to an event being held in the building last night and was no slight against Paul Maurice's team, no matter how the critics might like to portray the situation.
Having won five of their past six outings, the Leafs will continue to rely on their Kiddie Corps entering their game against the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight. Marlie callups Kris Newbury, Jeremy Williams and Robbie Earl all are expected to be in the lineup again, while the likes of defenceman Anton Stralman and Jiri Tlusty will continue to get significant playing time.
If interim general manager Cliff Fletcher wanted to get a good look at the gaggle of young talent in the organization, the time is obviously now.
"I think we realize the opportunity that we have here," Earl said. "We are trying to make the most of it. I know I am."
According to the St. Petersburg Times, the Lightning would like to lock up superstar Vincent Lecavalier to a long-term pact.
That reportedly is the desire of incoming owner Oren Koules, who is looking to complete an extension well before July 1, 2009, the date that Lecavalier would become an unrestricted free agent.
General manager Jay Feaster told the newspaper that Koules, whose OK Hockey outfit has a purchase agreement to buy the team, "made no bones about the fact they want to come in here and sign Vinny to a contract that keeps him here for the rest of his career."
Added Feaster: "They've stated that to me. I know they've made that statement to his agent. They've put that out there."