Maple Leafs part with Domi, Belfour

The Toronto Maple Leafs placed veteran winger Tie Domi on waivers this morning, which clears the way for the team to buy him out of the final year of his contract tomorrow. Players must be placed on waivers in order to be bought out. If Domi clears waivers – which will happen – by noon tomorrow when the NHL’s free agency period begins, he will become an unrestricted free agent, meaning any team may sign him without compensation to the Leafs.

“We want to thank Tie for his many years of service to the organization,” said GM John Ferguson in a press release. “He became a fan favourite for a reason and we wish him well in the years ahead.”

It’s certain no team will claim him today, simply because it would have to pick up his $1.25 million (all figures U.S.) salary for next season. If a team wants Domi, it will simply allow the Leafs to buy him out, then attempt to sign him at a lower price in free agency.

Although the Leafs will be able to spread the buyout amount over two years, the full salary will go against their salary cap for next season.

The Leafs also today declined the option on goalie Ed Belfour’s contract for next season. The total of that payout is $1.54 million, but the salary cap commitment can be spread over two years. That means the Leafs will have $2.002 million in buyouts against the $44 million cap for next season. They will have about $26.7 million already committed in salary for next season.

Belfour, 41, missed the last portion of the regular season last spring 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.

“Eddie added a lot to the Toronto Maple Leafs and we appreciate all that he did for us,” said Ferguson. “At this stage, we are taking a different direction, and we feel privileged to have had one of the game’s great goalies play for the Maple Leafs.”

Domi, 36, is one of the most popular players in franchise history. He holds Leaf records for career penalty minutes (2,265) and single season PIM (365 in 1997-98) and led the Leafs in penalty minutes nine seasons, including eight straight.

Neither Domi nor his agent, Pat Morris, could be reached for comment.

Toronto Star