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Fletcher discusses latest Leaf moves on OTR

TSN.ca Staff

6/25/2008 7:26:37 PM

The Toronto Maple Leafs have turned a lot of heads over the last few days with the moves that they've made to rebuild their struggling franchise.

And all of them have certainly put interim general manager Cliff Fletcher in the hot seat.

The Hall of Fame builder discussed all the moves he's made - and has yet to make - on TSN's Off The Record on Wednesday.

While the Leafs grabbed the spotlight last week by giving Mats Sundin's negotiating rights to the rival Montreal Canadiens, the team also had a parting of the ways with another 'heart and soul' player by buying out forward Darcy Tucker. The scrappy winger was one of the team's most popular players, making it a difficult decision for Fletcher to make.

"It's a straight case where we had to make some hard decisions," Fletcher told TSN's Michael Landsberg. "We have to make a number of changes on the team and it's all part of the process. I love Darcy Tucker, he's been a warrior, but we have to do what we have to do, the Leafs have missed the playoffs three years in a row. We've got to get this thing going in the right direction."

Fletcher was also busy on Tuesday, placing forward Kyle Wellwood and goaltender Andrew Raycroft on waivers. While Wellwood was taken by the Vancouver Canucks, Raycroft cleared on Wednesday and awaits an update on his status going forward.

"That decision will be made in the next 48 hours," Fletcher told TSN. "We will have to decide whether to put him on unconditional waivers to buy him out, or to keep him for the next season. We haven't made that decision.

One player who survived the Maple Leafs' purge was defenceman Bryan McCabe, who would cost the team about $3 million a year for the next three years and $1.6 million a year for an additional three years if he was bought out. Fletcher added that McCabe's signing bonus would still have to be paid in full, and not at the same two-thirds' rate his salary would be owed.

"Sometimes you make business decisions," he said. "At this stage we're not interested in buying Bryan McCabe out. It's a business decision that doesn't make any sense at this time."

Another blueliner who's getting plenty of press is Pavel Kubina, who has a small window in his contract that allows the Leafs to trade him over the summer. But Fletcher wasn't keen on dealing the veteran defenceman if the return was low.

"Everybody in the league knows that he can be traded between now and the 15th of August," he explained. "If somebody wants to talk seriously about it and make us a serious offer, we'll consider it. We're not going to give him away. He can be an integral part of a team. Kubina's value is very high."

Fletcher also shed some more light on Sundin's status with the club, saying he wouldn't rule out talking to the Leaf captain come July 1.

"We will talk to him absolutely," he told TSN. "J.P. Barry and I had some discussions before we gave Montreal the rights to talk to him. "The reason why we gave Montreal the rights to talk to him (was because) they were the team from what we could gather, a team that Mats would always consider as an alternative to Toronto."