Friday, June 30, 2006

Domi, Belfour no longer Leafs

It's the end of an era for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Tie Domi, one of the NHL club's most popular players for a decade, has been bought out, and the Leafs have also opted not to exercise the option year on the contract of Ed Belfour, the No. 1 goalie for the last four years. Read full article
TORONTO (CP) -- The Toronto Maple Leafs continued to drastically change the face of the NHL franchise by letting popular veterans Tie Domi and Ed Belfour go Friday.Coach Pat Quinn was fired after the team missed the playoffs, and new bench boss Paul Maurice will have a younger and faster team to work with next season."We're going to be able to start out in camp with a new direction, a new position direction with a lot of energy on the club," Leafs general manager John Ferguson said Friday at the Air Canada Centre.Domi, one of the most popular Leafs for a decade for his knack of standing up for his teammates, was bought out, and Belfour, the No. 1 goaltender the last four years, didn't have the option year of his contract picked up.To avoid paying enforcer Domi the $1.25-million US he would have earned in 2006-2007, the Leafs gave him two-thirds of that salary, which amounts to $833,000 spread over the next two years.The 36-year-old right-winger is fourth all-time in NHL penalty minutes. He scored only five goals last season. With fighting down and offence favoured in the new NHL, the Leafs decided it was time to close the book on the lengthy Domi chapter."The change in the game, the rules and the way it was going to be called, the transition game, speed -- those things didn't play to his strengths," said Ferguson. "It's become more of a special teams game, which is not an area where he excelled or was relied upon."Also, having acquired Andrew Raycroft from Boston last Saturday, the Leafs opted not to exercise their option on Belfour's contract for 2006-2007 that would have paid him $4.48-million US. He'll be paid $1.5 million to go away.Belfour, 41, missed the last portion of the regular season with a recurring back problem. He won 22 of the 49 games in which he appeared and had a 3.29 goals-against average and .892 save percentage.He passed the late Terry Sawchuk for second place in all-time NHL wins with a victory last Dec. 19."I know Eddie still wants to play," said Ferguson. "I've heard good things about his recovery and how he feels."Still, the Leafs wanted a younger goalie not as prone to physical breakdowns and Raycroft fits the bill.

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