The Maple Leafs have not heard from the Czechs regarding the availability of Jiri Tlusty for the world junior championship, but the host country might want to save a quarter and not bother with a phone call.
Leafs general manager John Ferguson refused to say whether he would lend Tlusty to the Czech Republic for the tournament, which begins on Dec. 26, but it did not sound like he would.
"I'm not going to speculate but as long as he is playing a role here, he is a Leaf," Ferguson said last night. "He has made some good strides for us."
Tlusty, then with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League, missed the world junior last winter because of an ankle injury.
The 19-year-old has three goals and two assists in 13 games with the Leafs. Tlusty has missed the past five games with a shoulder injury but is close to returning. While he has been out, he has switched to sweater No. 11 from No. 41.
The Nashville Predators had put together a 13-9-2 record before last night and had done so without former Leafs forward Steve Sullivan, referred to by coach Barry Trotz as "by far the most skilled and dangerous player we have in our organization."
Sullivan had back surgery in the off-season and his return to the lineup remains unclear.
"Steve, if he comes back, is a bonus," Trotz said. "It would be like getting a free agent. We miss him."
Predators defenceman Kevin Klein, who was a healthy scratch last night after taking part in the pre-game warmup, spent just over three of his four junior seasons with the OHL's St. Michael's Majors when the club was based in Toronto.
Klein, 22, was mildly surprised to see the Majors pull up stakes and move to Mississauga earlier this year.
"It caught me off guard," said Klein, who played for the Majors from 2000-03.
"It's disappointing, but it was tough for them to make money with being able to cram only, maximum, 1,100 people in there (St. Mike's Arena)."