Blake aims to start fresh

STEVE BUFFERY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:44 AM ET

Jason Blake has been kicking around the NHL for 10 years, but the Leafs left winger feels he is starting anew this season.

"For me, you have to prove yourself again -- to play at high level and to be counted on game in and game out to score goals and produce offence," he said yesterday, following an informal workout at Lakeshore Lions Arena. "That's what I'm looking to do this year."

The Leafs picked up the former Islanders standout last year after he scored 40 goals, along with 29 assists, on the Island two seasons ago. But last year, after being diagnosed with leukemia, he struggled to maintain his game, scoring only 15 goals in 82 games.

"Last year is last year," he said. "I forgot about it two weeks after the season, and just concentrated on having a good summer and refocusing my mind and having it in the right place.

"It's the best I've felt in 10 years. I worked hard this summer. I did a couple of different things to get ready for this year and hopefully it will pay off."

Leafs assistants on hand

The Leafs new assistant coaches, Tim Hunter and Rob Zettler, were on hand taking in the skate for the first time yesterday. Head coach Ron Wilson was not. Meanwhile, new defenceman Mike Van Ryn's sticks made it to Lakeshore Arena yesterday, but Van Ryn didn't.

Samueli denied plea deal

A federal judge yesterday rejected a plea deal that had called for Broadcom Corp. co-founder and Anaheim Ducks owner Henry Samueli to get probation rather than prison for his role in a stock options backdating case that led to the largest corporate writedown of its kind.

U.S. District Court Judge Cormac Carney wrote that the deal calling for five years' probation and $12 million US in payments by Samueli would erode the public's trust in the judicial system.

"The court cannot accept a plea agreement that gives the impression that justice is for sale," Carney wrote.

Samueli has pleaded guilty under the plea agreement to lying to investigators for the Securities and Exchange Commission. Broadcom, an Irvine, Calif.-based telecommunications chip maker, was ultimately forced to write down $2.2 billion in profits after the options backdating was uncovered.

Prosecutors and Samueli asked the judge for time to renegotiate their plea deal or to allow Samueli to withdraw from the agreement. Carney set another hearing for Sept. 29.

Samueli struck the plea deal with prosecutors this year in a larger criminal probe into stock-option backdating at Broadcom.

Backdating involves retroactively setting a stock option's exercise price to a low point in the stock's value, boosting the profits that are attained when the shares are sold.

It is legal when properly accounted for, but if companies fail to properly disclose the move, profits can be overstated and taxes underpaid.


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