TURKU, Finland (CP)
-- Winger Jonas Hoglund, unable to escape the soap opera surrounding Toronto's early exit from the playoffs, has rejected reports of unrest among the Maple Leafs.
"We fought our hardest in the playoffs," Hoglund said Monday at the world hockey championships. "We just didn't quite have it. But to read that stuff in the paper a day or two after our final game is just nonsense. There's no truth to it."
After the Leafs were eliminated by Philadelphia in the first round of the playoffs, the Toronto Star started the ball rolling by reporting a "festering rift," noting Shayne Corson, Darcy Tucker, Travis Green, Jyrki Lumme and Aki Berg were the only players to show up at a Toronto bar for the team's season-ending party.
"A lot of stuff gets blown out of proportion," said Hoglund. "Some reporters wrote that we had a team party and no one showed up. That's just bull. Everybody knew where they were going. Some people were going to Mats (captain Mats Sundin's) house, some people were going to that bar or whatever, so that's just nonsense."
Sundin arrived late Monday afternoon and practised with the Swedes.
Sundin wasn't scheduled to join the Swedish team here until late Monday.
Hoglund also dismissed reports that Corson was angry at the ice time given to Tom Fitzgerald.
"I don't know where they get their info but as a player, you get shocked and disappointed to read that in the paper. But I'm not surprised. I've been in Toronto for four years now so I'm used to it."
"You have what, 22 guys on your roster? Not everybody is going to be best of friends," Hoglund continued. "I mean on our team, everybody gets along fine. We might not go to dinner together every night but we get along fine. We have a job to do and we try to get it done to the best of our ability.
"I think, except for our start this year, we had a great season and we played well as a team. So it's even more disappointing to read that stuff in the paper."
Fellow Swede Mikael Renberg, standing next to Hoglund in the media mixed zone at Elysee Arena, called the Toronto reports "exaggerated."
|Mikael Renberg says all the recent Leaf talk is greatly "exaggerated".|
Graig Abel Photography
"When you live in a group like that for a year there's some guys that are happy and some that are not. That goes up and down. Sometimes you get to play a lot when you play well and sometimes you don't get to play much when you play bad. I thought we were a team that stuck together all year.
"But we're in Toronto, so as soon as there's a little thing it becomes a big thing."
Canadian defenceman Cory Cross spend nearly three seasons in Toronto and wasn't surprised to see the latest circus act.
"I was involved with that soap opera for about three years," said the Oilers blue-liner. "That's one of the reasons I wasn't too sad not to go back there."
Cross knows most of the Leaf players well and also downplayed the reports of dressing-room divide.
"There's cliques in every dressing room," Cross said. "Guys hang out with certain guys. And I think with the media always there and looking for stories . . . Obviously when they see a story they write about it. I mean, I'm sure there's some guys at fault, too, so it probably runs both ways."
Renberg, meanwhile, downplayed his unhappiness with Quinn over his ice time in the playoffs.
"No, I wasn't upset," Renberg said. "I just said I didn't play a whole lot and I don't know if I deserved to or not. Some games I had big-time problems getting into the games. But I don't complain or anything. It's always Pat's choice. And that's the way it is."
Renberg left for Europe quickly after the Game 7 loss in Philadelphia.
"I had to make a quick decision. If I was going to play here I had to leave right away because I wanted to go home (to Sweden) and see my daughter first. It's tough because you want to spend some time with your teammates but this is what I felt like doing. . . .
When asked if he'd be back in Toronto, Renberg seemed to send a mixed signal.
"I'm going to go back to Toronto after this tournament and packing up some stuff for the summer," he said.
Hoglund, meanwhile, will be a restricted free agent July 1. The Leafs must make a qualifying offer of $1.54 million US to retain his rights.
"The media reports after every year is that I won't be there but I've been there four years now and I expect to be there again," Hoglund said. "I love Toronto and love the team and love the organization so hopefully I'll be back. I don't know what their plans are but I expect to be in Toronto next year."
The players also took a forgiving view of Tie Domi's criticism of teammates who headed to the world championships, suggesting they didn't take the loss to the Flyers hard enough. There are eight Leafs participating in the tournament.
"Tie talked to Hogie and said he didn't really mean it in that way," Renberg said.