Shanny too much of a granny for Leafs' tastes

STEVE BUFFERY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 3:20 AM ET

The only player of Irish descent that Maple Leafs general manager Cliff Fletcher is interested in acquiring is Mats O'Sundin.

Hey, you know the old saying: Everybody's a little bit Irish on St. Patrick's Day.

All kidding aside, Fletcher said yesterday that he is not interested in trying to bring future Hall of Famer Brendan Shanahan to the Leafs.

"I like Shanny a lot. He's had a great career and is a good person, and he can probably still play a little bit of hockey," Fletcher said yesterday. "But signing him would go totally against what we're doing here.

"To bring someone in Shanny's age doesn't make any sense at all," Fletcher added. "The only player in that age bracket we would be interested in is Mats."

Shanahan, a 39-year-old unrestricted free agent, had hoped to re-sign with the New York Rangers, and has been waiting for GM Glen Sather to clear salary cap room and find a spot on the roster.

But with the NHL season heading into its third week, Shanahan has instructed his agent, Rick Curran, to look at other teams.

Shanahan, a native of Mimico, has 650 goals and 1,340 points in 20 NHL seasons, and scored 23 goals, with 23 assists, in 73 games for the Rangers last year.

Sundin recently started working out in California but hasn't decided if he wants to play this season. Fletcher has said the Leafs would welcome him back if he does.

As for his 4-3-3 Leafs, Fletcher admitted that he is concerned that his young club lacks some toughness, which was evident again in its 6-5 shootout win over the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday. The team's top two fighters, Ryan Hollweg and Jamal Mayers, are not exactly heavyweights. But Fletcher is not prepared to go out and throw away a young skill player or draft pick for a bonafide heavyweight.

"We always have concerns, but to me team toughness is more important than anything," Fletcher said. "Would we entertain getting a tough guy at some stage? Sure, but only if he could fit in and play some hockey too.

"But we're not out there pounding the pavement or making telephone calls to see if anything's available," Fletcher added. "I think we can handle ourselves."

Fletcher reiterated that it is quiet on the trade front but he is open to deal for some offence, likely giving up one of the club's inactive defenceman, probably Ian White, who hasn't played a regular season game as of yet, or Carlo Colaiacovo, who has been a healthy scratch for five games in a row.

"The way the NHL works, everybody knows what every other team is doing," Fletcher said. "And other teams know we have nine defencemen who can all play in the NHL. So, at some stage, I'm sure my phone will ring."


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