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Corson not asking for trade

Tuesday, 18.02.2003 / 12:00 AM / News
Toronto Maple Leafs
TORONTO (CP) - Shayne Corson looked into the lights from the seven TV cameras set up at his stall in the Toronto dressing room and decided against it.

The Leafs veteran, who made his anger known the day before about being a healthy scratch in Toronto's last game, didn't elaborate on his unhappy state of affairs after practice Monday.

"I have nothing to say, talk to Pat," Corson said before heading to the showers.

That would be Pat Quinn, the head coach and GM of the Leafs who made the delicate but gutsy decision Saturday to not dress the 17-year NHL veteran against Ottawa. At the time, it was thought Corson sat out a second consecutive game because of a bruised knuckle. It turns out the knuckle had healed and he was more than able to play.

Corson says the situation has been blown out of proportion.
Graig Abel Photography
On Sunday, Corson said he'd be willing to waive his no-trade clause if the Leafs no longer wanted him. The 36-year-old is earning $2.45 million US this season and has a club option at $2.7 million for next season that the Leafs aren't expected to pick up.

By Monday night, Corson decided to open up and he had a change heart.

"What bothers me is people took it as me saying `Play me or trade me," Corson told the Toronto Sun. "Those words never came out of my mouth. I needed a couple of days to think about things and that's why I didn't talk.

"But now I look at it as a challenge. If I have to sit, then I sit. I'll just work hard and give them a reason to put me back in there."

Jonas Hoglund had been the pick of many media members to sit out. He scored the game-winner Saturday night with 44 seconds left. Score one for Quinn.

Quinn also wasn't made available Monday, and neither was captain Mats Sundin or Corson's brother-in-law Darcy Tucker.

Others were handed the task of discussing Corson's outburst, which came on the heels of Gary Roberts' much-anticipated return to the Leafs lineup. With Roberts back and everyone healthy, someone had to sit.

"I think we all know what Shayne's going through because it could easily be me or someone else," said veteran winger Tom Fitzgerald. "But we all support each other in here and that's the bottom line, we're a team."

Corson says he had never before been a healthy scratch in his NHL career and wonders if Quinn has lost faith in him.

"My mom (reminded) me that five years ago, people said I was done," said Corson. "Then I made the (1998) Olympic team and the all-star teams that year. This is just another challenge."

The fact is, Corson hasn't had a great season with four goals, six assists and a minus-4 rating in 33 games. On the other hand, his true worth is in the post-season, when he sacrifices his body like no other and plays an important role on the penalty kill.

"He's played very well for us in the playoffs," said Roberts. "And maybe down the road that's something we'll have to deal with when we get closer to the playoffs."

Corson and winger Paul Healey were the only players wearing white practice jerseys Monday, not the coloured jerseys of the players skating on the four forward lines. That probably means Corson will likely sit out again Tuesday night when the Carolina Hurricanes visit.

Corson's usual spot on a line with Tucker and Travis Green was taken by Alyn McCauley in the re-shuffling of forwards Saturday. McCauley had seen his shares of healthy scratches over the last few years before finally winning a regular job during last spring's playoffs.

McCauley, a junior star with the OHL's Ottawa 67's, understands what Corson is going through.

"A lot of the guys at some point in their careers have been the main guy, the go-to guy, the guy that's played a lot of minutes," McCauley said. "And then to be told you're not going to be dressing on a certain night, it's tough to take.

"You highly regard yourself and your abilities. Maybe the person that's making the decisions feels otherwise."

Green chose his words carefully when asked about his linemate's outburst, saying he'd probably feel the same way as Corson.

"We have a veteran club. No one wants to not play. I don't know what else to say," Green said.

Green said not to read too much into Corson's comment about the no-trade clause.

"Sometimes things get blown out of proportion," Green said. "When someone asks him whether he'd waive his (no-trade) clause, what else is he going to say? He hasn't come out and said `play me or trade me.' He's been around the league a long time and I know he has a lot of passion for this game. He wants to play hockey."

Fitzgerald says there won't be any negative effect resulting from Corson's comments, pointing out that Corson has earned the right to speak his mind.

"He's a well-respected person and hockey player," Fitzgerald said. "For him to say what he said, that's what he's feeling. A lot of people wouldn't speak their mind. Shayne's the type that does and I think that's a good attribute. He says what he feels and a lot guys, myself included, would just keep it bottled up and let it bother you."

In the end, McCauley says, unless you're Sundin or Alex Mogilny on this team, it could happen to almost anyone.

"Even (Atlanta star) Ilya Kovalchuk sat out a game this year," said McCauley. "It hits most players at some point in their careers and it's a tough pill to swallow."
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