With NHL trade deadline set to toll on March 3, Leafs know changes could come

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TORONTO - Jean-Sebastien Giguere was embarrassed to admit he has not spent much of his Olympic break actually watching the Games. His excuse is simple and understandable, considering part of his vacation away from the Toronto Maple Leafs was used to relocate his young family across the continent.

He does not have a television.

The 32-year-old goaltender, acquired in a trade with the Anaheim Ducks two weeks before the Vancouver Olympics, took possession of his new house in Toronto on Tuesday, one day before returning to practice with the Leafs on Wednesday. Some items appear to have gotten lost in the shuffle.

"My son made a snowball yesterday, he was all excited," Giguere said with a smile. "It's going to be different for us, too, just getting them dressed. We couldn't find their toques. It was a mess, you know?"

The team to which he has returned is in a similar state.

Toronto stumbled into the break on a two-game losing streak, tumbling to last place in the Eastern Conference standings, only five points ahead of the Edmonton Oilers for last place in the NHL's overall standings.

New faces have been added, with the promise more will be on the way when the NHL trade deadline tolls at 3 p.m. ET on March 3. The future is uncertain, highlighted by the fact Giguere said he has the house only through the rest of the season.

Everyone, he said, has something to prove.

"We need to put the past in the past and forget about it," Giguere said. "Just really focus on the future of this team, you know? And from what I've seen, the 10 days I was here, there's a lot of quality young guys, a lot of talent and a lot of energy."

The Leafs were put through an energetic practice at their west-end Toronto facility on Wednesday, even while coach Ron Wilson and forward Phil Kessel were on the other side of the country, leading the U.S. to a 2-0 win against Switzerland in the quarter-final round of the Olympic hockey tournament.

They will return at some point, along with fellow Olympians Tomas Kaberle and Jonas Gustavsson, to find out just what kind of team the Leafs might be heading into the summer.

Toronto has 21 games left on its schedule, and with the playoffs all but officially out of reach, it is reasonable to assume that some players will need the home stretch to audition for future employment.

"It's kind of almost like a new season," Toronto forward John Mitchell said. "Everybody's had some time off, time to recuperate. These 20 games are important for everybody, myself especially, so you're going to look at every game as a very important one."

Mitchell's dressing room stall, coincidentally, is nestled right in between those belonging to forwards Alexei Ponikarovsky and Lee Stempniak, two players most often rumoured to be on their way out of town.

"You see stuff on TSN, because you want to watch highlights, so you're going to get wind of stuff, for sure," Mitchell said. "It's really out of your hands. I can't say what's going to happen, but that's the nature of the business - people get moved."

Forward Jamie Lundmark was moved just before the roster freeze, picked up on waivers just as the Calgary Flames were attempting to send him back to the AHL. The former first-round draft pick is used to uncertainty, having been bounced from the NHL to the minors and, briefly, to Russia.

"I've been on different teams that have moved nine, 10 guys at the deadline, so it's nothing new to me," Lundmark said. "But it's my first day here, so I don't really know what's going on. We'll find out in the next couple of days."

Toronto resumes its schedule March 2 against the Carolina Hurricanes.

"We're all playing for something here," Giguere said. "But first and foremost, we're playing to try to make this team a competitive team until the end of the season. We have 21 games to make a statement."


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