Dreger: Sundin a priority for Fletcher

Darren Dreger
1/22/2008 4:58:00 PM
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The firing of John Ferguson and hiring of Cliff Fletcher as interim general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs ends the speculation on one front, but fuels the debate on the future of Leafs captain Mats Sundin.

The interest in Toronto's leading scorer would be significant and the expected rate of return for the 36-year-old centre would be high.  However, part of Cliff Fletcher's job between now and the February 26th NHL trade deadline is to determine whether moving Sundin is an option.

Sundin has repeatedly faced the question recently as to whether or not he would waive his no-trade clause if asked by the organization to do so. Sundin's response has been consistent, he intends on focusing on the goal of leading the Maple Leafs into the playoffs.

Sundin's agent, JP Barry tells TSN his client is growing weary of endless speculation. "In all the frenzy recently, the media isn't listening to what Mats is saying about his intentions.

"He has never talked to me, not even once, about the possibility of playing for another team and I don't expect that to change," Barry added.

The topic of trading Sundin was brought up during Fletcher's introduction as Toronto's interim general manager on Tuesday and Fletcher acknowledged Sundin will clearly determine where he finishes the season based on a no-trade clause and the prospect of becoming an unrestricted free agent in July.

Barry steadfastly believes Sundin's sole focus is to help the Leafs succeed on the ice and in the dressing room and says his client isn't interested in wasting energy on the ongoing speculation.

"His approach to anything other than succeeding as a Leaf is, we will cross that bridge when we come to it," said the agent.

The heat is now on Cliff Fletcher. If it's Fletcher's intent to try and convince Sundin to waive his no-trade, that won't be an easy task. In fact, Fletcher may have more success in trying to sign the veteran forward to an extension then attempting to move him.

It's believed Fletcher has a mandate, and that mandate is to set the table for a brighter future for the incoming president and general manager.

Richard Peddie, the President and CEO of Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment stated Fletcher will have autonomy over all hockey matters to navigate a short term fix. 

Officially determining Sundin's status will surely be atop his to-do list.

Darren Dreger

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