Boy, isn't Cliff Fletcher all business these days with the likes of Bryan McCabe? The message he has sent through the media and his agent is a blatantly clear: "We Don't Want You Here!"
Unfortunately for Fletcher, its all bark and no bite, having been de-fanged by JFJ's contract stupidity.
So its up to Bryan McCabe now to succumb to the trade that he stated and now doesn't want. It seems unlikely that Fletcher would go so far as to not play Bryan and risk that a grievance be filed by the NHLPA, and we all know the buyout is a non-starter.
So its a classic showdown. Or is it? All Fletcher can do is ask. Contractually speaking, he is in no place to make demands.
And what if McCabe refuses to go?
Could it be a chance for him to show that he is as tough as his contract says he should be?
To hold out in the face of Fletcher's blatant pressure tactics, in the face of the majority of fan sentiment that is siding with the GM, is tough stuff indeed. To insist on playing for an organization and for fans that say they don't want you, I think, takes massive, massive, cojones.
McCabe always seemed to have fragile confidence. Could this off season provide the training his head has long needed: to find the ability to fight through negativity and adversity and believe in himself?
If McCabe takes the ice in a Leafs uniform in September I will be impressed with the man. It will tell me he is not a quitter. That he has more belief in himself than most of us thought. Could it mean the difference in his play on the ice? It just might.
At the end of the day, McCabe may slink out of town. I'd be more than happy to see that. But part of me hopes that he sticks around and proves everyone wrong. Cliff may lose the battle, but McCabe playing good hockey could help the Leafs win the war.