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Category: Toronto-Maple-Leafs

Gagne’s Return Sparks Bolts, Plus a Few Thoughts on Pat Burns

I’ve tagged him the Lightning’s “wild card” all season, even before the neck injury that cost him 18 games. After a pointless first six games in a Lightning uniform, it was hard to forecast what Simon Gagne might bring to Tampa Bay this season. After all, recent history tells us that productivity elsewhere may not instantly equate to success alongside Vincent Lecavalier in Tampa (see: Tanguay, Alex, both before and after his single season as a Bolt). Add in that lingering injury – the latest in a career full of them for Gagne – and there is still really no telling what the former Flyer might be capable of for the long haul.

But, for a night, the wait was well worth it for both player and team, as Gagne lifted the Lightning to a 4-3 overtime decision in Toronto with the decisive tally in the extra frame.

Lecavalier remains out for the immediate future, so whether these two end up meshing as intended is still very much up in the air. And, of course, sustained health for Gagne is always a question mark (though, really, isn’t it for all of us?) But if Gagne’s impact on the Bolts last night is any indication as to what he might bring to the table for Tampa Bay in the long run, as my ever-optimistic Bolts Beat co-host, Mike Corcoran, suggests ad nauseam, maybe there really is something special coming together for the Lightning this season.

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Filed in: NHL Teams, Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadiens, New Jersey Devils, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: pat+burns, simon+gagne, simon+gagne, vincent+lecavalier

Leafs May Have A New Owner

from Robert Cribb and Tony VanAlphen of the Toronto Star,

In what would be the biggest transaction in Canadian sport history, Rogers is in talks to buy the Toronto Maple Leafs in a deal worth more than $1 billion, sources said Tuesday.

The sale would include the Raptors, Toronto FC soccer club and the Marlies, the Maple Leafs’ minor league hockey team.

Buying a majority stake in Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment from the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan would transform Rogers, which already owns the Toronto Blue Jays, into one of the most powerful sports enterprises in North America.

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Wait.  Just Wait

from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,

Now, whether Burke can find his own alternate route looks uncertain, or even doubtful now, but rebuilding projects always look this way. Three years after drafting Alex Ovechkin, the Caps had 70 points. But George McPhee wasn’t fired. It’s been four years since the St. Louis Blues bottomed out and took Erik Johnson first overall, and after a fast start it appears the Blues are likely to be fighting for a playoff spot again this season. Don’t hear anybody calling for John Davidson’s head.

These things take time, yet so many want to scream “Failure!” at the Burke regime after just two years. Make no sense.

Similarly, reaching final conclusions on Phil Kessel, the closest thing the Leafs have to a franchise forward, makes no sense either. Bill Watters, the former Leaf executive and radio analyst on A640, called Kessel a “dog” repeatedly on the air yesterday, and maybe he’s right. Ol’ Wilbur has been around the game a long time and talks to a long of folks in the sport, so I’m certainly not dismissing his opinion.

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Filed in: NHL Teams, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Pressure Building In Toronto

from Elliotte Friedman of CBC,

It’s easy to sit there and say, “Fire the coach!” - something I’ve never really been comfortable writing about. (When asked a couple of weeks ago if (Ron) Wilson thought his job was in jeopardy, he replied that we’re already 0-for-50 with those predictions. He politely declined comment about this particular situation.) But you have to look at this objectively. In the aftermath of Saturday’s 3-0 defeat in Ottawa, I couldn’t help but think that Wilson’s got trouble, simply because Brian Burke may have to do something.

You can feel the pressure in Leaf land. The frustration is everywhere, from ownership on down to the players. Burke’s tried everything, from seismic changes (Kessel, Phaneuf, Giguere) to rushing Nazem Kadri faster than the GM wanted. Kadri’s call-up was specifically intended to wake the roster.

read on

Filed in: NHL Teams, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Burke’s Two Year Anniversary

from James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail,

Introduced as the Maple Leafs GM on Nov. 29, 2008, Burke’s plan to rebuild on the fly can charitably be called a work in progress two years in.

The Leafs have yet to make the playoffs, don’t have a first-round pick until 2012 and, after bottoming out in 29th place in the 30-team NHL a year ago with 74 points, are on pace for just 71 this season.

After two ugly losses this past weekend, Toronto has a 65-75-24 record under Burke, and his team-building strategy has been curiously at odds with what has worked for most franchises since the NHL’s salary cap was introduced.

With that in mind, here’s a look back at the good, the bad and the ugly of Burke’s first two years as Leafs GM.

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Filed in: NHL Teams, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: brian+burke

Developing A Winning Attitude In Toronto

from Bill Lankhof of the Toronto Sun,

Goalie Jonas Gustavsson says there’s a growing camaraderie.

“We’re all young and even the older guys like Kabe,” he said, laughing, “like our music. There’s a lot of energy.”

As late as the start of 2009, everyone was in the same leaky Leafs boat. Everyone sweated about it. Everyone was rowing. They just weren’t all necessarily rowing in the same direction.

“We’re trying to develop a winning attitude. The one thing about this team is that everyone hangs out together,” Schenn said.

It worked in Chicago, Versteeg said. It can work here. “When you have that chemistry off the ice, it sometimes helps out on the ice, too.”

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Not the Best Of Time For Lebda In Toronto

from James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail,

So far, however, all Lebda has become is the Leafs’ forgotten man on the blueline. The 28-year-old has been a healthy scratch for three consecutive games since being benched after his giveaway led to a goal early in a win last week over the Nashville Predators.

After 10 games as a Leaf, Lebda is a team-worst minus-9 and has fallen behind two youngsters with more than 300 fewer games NHL experience.

Instead of a new beginning, his start in Toronto has been a bit of a nightmare.

“It’s frustrating,” Lebda said. “Just this whole start of the year has been like that. Getting hurt in training camp, missing the first two, three weeks and trying to get back in game shape without those exhibition games.

“Now I’m in a hole and hopefully I get a chance here to climb out of it.”

read on

Filed in: NHL Teams, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: brett+lebda

Brad Richards to Toronto?

Leaf Nation is notorious for building castles in the air. Any time a major player hits the market via trade or free agency, the city of Toronto becomes obsessed, even convinced, that said player’s dream is to play for the Maple Leafs.

So when free-agent-to-be Brad Richards and the Dallas Stars drop in at the Air Canada Center tonight, the obvious question arises: Is there a chance the Stars’ Line 1 Center could find himself donning a Blue and White Jersey before the end of the year?

When asked about the possibility of being traded to Toronto by the media following the pre-game skate on Monday, Richards replied, “When the time comes, if that’s an option, Toronto’s always a No. 1 hockey destination. It would be great being a Canadian playing in Toronto, but we’re not even close to that bridge yet. And like I said, I’m focused here. I have so much respect for Joe Nieuwendyk, and to even talk about other teams is not even close to being fair.”

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Filed in: NHL Teams, Dallas Stars, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: brad+richards

Playing in Honour of Burns Tonight

As much as I’d enjoy watching the Leafs whoop the Habs by a score like 6-0, I really hope it’s a close game. Heck, I’d take a close game where the Habs win even than a blowout where the Leafs win.

I know there are Leafs fans out there who threw up in their mouth as I said that. I don’t care.

Because tonight is not about the Leafs. Nor is it about the Habs. It’s about Burnsie.

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Filed in: NHL Teams, Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: pat+burns

“My Dad Hates Losing”- Katie Burke

As Brian Burke prepared to mark his 1,000th game as a general manager in the National Hockey League this weekend, his daughter Katie Burke wrote to The Globe and Mail in response to media columnist Bruce Dowbiggin’s article on Friday. Dowbiggin reported a debate as to whether the media in Toronto is holding back criticism of the Maple Leafs General Manager out of sympathy, as Brian Burke continues to grieve the loss of his son Brendan in a car accident last year.

As Brian’s oldest daughter, I wanted to take a moment to clarify some of the assumptions made in the ongoing conversation within the Toronto media:

First and foremost, my dad hates losing. Hates it. He hates losing at Scrabble, he hates losing a bet, and he really hates losing hockey games.

Growing up, the first thing you told any friend who attended a hockey game with you was that if the team lost, they would be well advised not to speak to my dad after the game. I can guarantee you that there is nothing the media could write or say about the Leafs’ performance that my dad hasn’t thought himself, and no one is more critical of his own work than my father.

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: brian+burke

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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.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

Email Paul anytime at pk@kuklaskorner.com

 

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