UPDATED: November 3, 2005.

FIVE FOR FIGHTING.

with Alec Brownscombe.

Ferguson in the Rear-View

A year off can heal late 20-early 30 year olds, but the same cannot be said about a couple of near 40-year-olds.

The team entering the season with many question marks surrounding it, the Toronto Maple Leafs, have so far faired reasonably well, and for the most part better than many pundits and predictors had anticipated.

It was only 2 months ago that Leafs fans were ready to tar-and-feather GM John Ferguson. After all, he just stood by and watched as fan-favourites Gary Roberts and Joe Nieuwendyk decamp and head south. But with the present status of these two warriors, it looks like JFJ made the correct call.

There were equally as many concerns with Lindros and Allison as there was with Roberts and Nieuwendyk. Ceaseless past injuries had haunted all four of these players. But so far the two biggest question mark Leaf acquisitions have avoided the injury bug.

We'll just put it this way. Roberts recorded his first point of the season Monday night against the Leafs themselves. While Nieuwendyk may have played the last game of his career- that being if his re-injured back does once again require surgery, which according to the Montreal Gazette, looks like a very real possibility. Even if the Whitby Ontario native can avoid surgical recuperation, the re-occurrence of back spasms is enough to worry Mike Keenan and his Panthers. A year off apparently has still failed to rejuvenate Nieuwendyk and his back, and he may be facing the fact that he is just too old. The game is only getting quicker, and it's looking probable that Old Joe may call it quits. We have seen a very similar scenario with Brett Hull, who had enough class to save Wayne some cap room once he realized his body wasn't up to the task.

And just recently Brian Leetch damaged his knee and is sidelined for at least a month. So it looks like Ferguson's defense core was going to be depleted to its current status of a 3 men certified competent group anyway.

At this time the only player that has gone on to success is Alex Mogilny, who has recorded 13 points in 12 games. In this respect, it appears he's the only one the Leafs will have a hard time replacing. Czerkawski lived up to his reputation as a one-team player and has proven to be the bust Canadiens fans admired and enjoyed.

There was, and still is, an inordinate amount of questions about the Leafs off-season signees. But at least so far, Ferguson has, in relative terms, come up smelling like roses.

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Alec Brownscombe;
E-Mail: gbrownscome@cogeco.ca
MSN: alecbrownscombe89@msn.com

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