Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun,
The lanky free agent signee may have moved a big step closer to being one of the most promising in the league with his 15-stop performance.
It took him two nights—20 minutes on Friday and 40 more last night—but Gustavsson recorded a backhanded shutout, was named the game’s first star and will have tongues all around Leafs Nation wagging this morning.
As irrational as the debates will get, there was some added spice when starter Vesa Toskala let in a softy late in the first period on a shot he should have stopped.
Gustavsson had some Swedish accompaniment in one of the last bids to make an impression on management with the regular-season now just four sleeps away.
“I hate to invoke fictitious anchor and Bill Bonds impersonator Ron Burgundy, whose, “Stay Classy” became a cliche faster than grandma saying that her pearls constituted “bling bling,” but the utter arrogance of the Leaf fans in attendance, and their ignorance of the fact that they were in enemy territory, was plain old stupid. The yuppified crowd (I guess they can’t quite afford platinum seats at the ACC) gathered in impromptu mobs amongst the concourse crowd after the game, reprising their, “Go Leafs Go” chants, saying, “See you in April!” (to go golfing along with Burke’s goon squad?), and some moron didn’t seem to realize that the Red Wings-Maple Leafs rivalry still burns hot enough in at least one Detroit fan’s heart…”
-George Malik of SnapShots. More from George…
from Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun,
After many rejected nicknames, the winner came to Christian Hanson in a flash after he and Ryan Bozak and Viktor Stalberg just completed another high-energy shift.
“The Frat Pack,” Hanson said proudly. “You know, like Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack.
“We hadn’t come up with a good one yet. That’s your job (the media). Maybe we should hold a contest.”
Call them what you will—a Sun reader suggested Highway 86 in honour of their shared birth year—the Maple Leafs trio of NCAA grads has been one of the delights of camp for coach Ron Wilson.
from Tim Wharnsby of the Globe and Mail,
If the Toronto Maple Leafs’ in-house television station Leafs TV is in need of some off-season programming, it may want to follow around defenceman Garnet Exelby for a summer.
He’s part Marlin Perkins of the old Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom show and part competitor on The Amazing Race, the popular reality television series.
Since last season ended, the 28-year-old Exelby went bungee jumping in New Zealand and swam with bull sharks off the coast of Fiji, and he visited Sweden to work on his skating with an on-ice guru.
from Damian Cox of the Spin at the Toronto Star,
Kessel, says Chiarelli, demanded a trade and wouldn’t negotiate a contract, so that was that. Indications are that was indeed the situation, and Kessel’s statement that he “never once” demanded a trade was really just semantics. Whether his agent made the demand or whether his unwillingness to talk contract was a passive aggressive strategy, it really doesn’t matter now.
Clearly, Julien’s coaching style was part of the issue, and so the most fascinating part of Kessel’s career as a Leaf when it begins in two months or so will be how he and Ron Wilson are able to forge a working relationship. Wilson’s a demanding coach, and he can be caustic and pointed in his public and private remarks when he feels it is warranted. San Jose officials make no bones about the fact they believe Wilson’s riding of Patrick Marleau retarded Marleau’s development.
Understand this. While Wilson and Burke are friends from years back, Burke now has more personal prestige invested in Kessel being successful than in Wilson, a coach Burke didn’t hire. The Leaf GM will hope Wilson and Kessel get along very well, but it’s a great deal more difficult to find top six forwards than head coaches.
from Damian Cox of the Toronto Star,
Last winter, the Leafs were an outfit adrift without personality, a club that had scored a bunch of goals early in the season, was terrible defensively, wasn’t ornery to play against and, depending on the game, might fill out half or more of its lineup with skilled European-born and trained players.
Today, the Leafs are destined to be one of the NHL’s goonier teams, a club dominated by North American talent and muscle, a team that surely has a distinct personality sculpted entirely by Burke.
He has changed the roster, added front office personnel, lured one of the game’s top goalie coaches and revamped the pro and amateur scouting staffs. A club that not that long ago seemed unattractive to players with other choices has in rapid succession outbid stiff competition for Mike Komisarek, François Beauchemin, Colton Orr, Christian Hanson, Tyler Bozak, netminder Jonas Gustavsson and, really, Kessel.
For each of these players there were at least three bidders and in some cases four times that many. But Burke got them all.
Suddenly, the Leafs are a destination, mostly because of Burke’s personal touch.
A Maple Leafs general manager probably hasn’t acted with this much bully power since Conn Smythe was running the franchise years ago.
-Kevin Allen of Mucking and Grinding at USA TODAY. More on Burke and the Kessel deal.
from Damian Cox of the Toronto Star,
The Kessel trade, of course, fits with Burke’s make-a-big-splash-early history. He moved heaven and earth to land Chris Pronger for Hartford. He bagged the Sedin twins for Vancouver. Now he’s arm-twisted the unwilling Bruins into trading Kessel.
Of course there is risk for the Leafs, but arguably greater risk for Boston, which acquired Kessel through the draft just three years ago as a franchise-type player and may be unable to turn their newly acquired first-round picks into NHL talent.
The Leafs haven’t lost anything tangible yet. The Bruins have.
from Elliotte Friedman of CBC Sports,
The Bruins, understanding his strengths and weaknesses, protected him. He instantly becomes the most skilled player on the roster, but the highest-paid one too. In Toronto, that comes with a target.
I’m not convinced that the enormously shy Kessel will be comfortable in the spotlight. A white-hot hockey market is not the best fit for him.
Will he discover the work ethic necessary to become a truly great player? And, can the Leafs find a centre who was as good for him as Marc Savard?
added 8:43pm, Since Darren Dreger broke the news, let’s go to his story…
The drama surrounding Phil Kessel has finally come to an end as the Boston Bruins have traded their disgruntled sniper to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for a 1st and a 2nd round pick in 2010, and a 1st round pick in 2011 pending a trade call which is currently underway.
Kessel and the Maple Leafs then quickly agreed to terms on a new five-year, $27 million deal.
continued and below you can check how this story broke early this evening…
Brian Burke, president and general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, announced Friday evening that the team has obtained the rights to restricted free agent forward Phil Kessel from the Boston Bruins. In exchange, Boston will receive the Maple Leafs’ first-round draft picks in 2010 and 2011 and their second-round draft pick in 2010. Kessel and the Maple Leafs agreed to terms on a multi-year contract following the trade
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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