Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun,
“The way I like my teams to play, we need to get bigger right away,” Burke said as the Leafs finished a 1-2 journey to California and Arizona. “It’s not that we don’t compete, but we’re not able to win some physical battles.
“I think a big part of winning hockey games is winning battles all over the ice.”
That won’t come easily or immediately given that initial trade offers to new GMs in need include an attempt at fleecing. But Burke is too smart for that, and given his belief that players shouldn’t be moved near the holidays, he likely won’t pull the trigger until the new year. Not that there hasn’t been talk.
“I’ve had some marvellous trade offers already,” Burke said sarcastically. “When you take over a team, everybody throws anvils at you. It has been really easy to say no. Trading and upgrading your team is not that easy to do in a cap system. That’s why I’m not making any bold promises or setting time frames.”
from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
The latest to experience the sting of Leafs head coach Ron Wilson’s teaching methods were defenceman Tomas Kaberle and left winger Alexei Ponikarovsky. Wilson, unhappy with Kaberle’s play in a loss Tuesday to the San Jose Sharks, kept him on the bench for the entire first period….
Kaberle, who was not told before the game he would be benched, was on the ice for all three Coyotes goals in the third period and finished at minus-3.
“Obviously, it was hard,” Kaberle said. “I take it seriously. That’s the way it is. I have to keep my head up and get my ice time back.”
Wilson, who may order his troops to stay here for a practice today before flying back to Toronto, was not sure Kaberle got the message.
“Yeah, he obviously sent a message back,” the coach said. “He was [minus-3].”
added 11:43am, from Damien Cox at the Spin,
Wilson, armed with a four-year contract, has the ammunition to fight back against that lack of, in his words, “accountability,” and he’s doing it.
Truth is, he’s been dissatisified with the work of Kaberle and Kubina for weeks, the two members of the Leaf defence corps with no-trade clauses in their contracts. New GM Brian Burke is already on record as saying such clauses are “coach-killers,” and quite clearly its in the plans of the Leafs to have both players willing to waive those clauses sometime before March in order to facilitate trades elsewhere that will bring draft picks and/or players to the club….
But the gauntlet has been laid down. And Kaberle, it’s clear, is in his final weeks as a Maple Leaf.
Brian Burke’s certification as Maple Leafs monarch has plural positives for Toronto. For the first time since the Conn Smythe-Punch Imlach Eras, Toronto boasts a commanding leader who gives a face to the franchise.
Smythe and Imlach have 10 Stanley Cups between them. Now an eleventh will be possible once Burke gets the house in order; and that will only take a year.
-Stan Fishchler at the Hockey Journal where you can read more hockey notes from The Maven.
from Jim Kelley at Sportsnet,
I’m not arguing that a Toskala move needs to be made today or even before Burke’s self-imposed Christmas no-trade zone (beginning Dec. 9). I’d even argue having him stay on until the Leafs establish an identity and where they are likely to finish this season, but at some point down the road, if Burke follows his game plan, goaltending has to be the No. 1 issue.
Burke knows that. His coach, Ron Wilson, knows that. Anyone who has watched Toskala’s total contribution in a Leafs uniform can at least suspect it.
He’s good; but not Stanley Cup championships good.
Toskala’s goals against average, including a solid effort Monday night in Los Angeles is 3.02, good enough for 34th on the NHL stats list. His save percentage a paltry .891, a not so good 38th place. But if teams are going to go big in this league and be a true Cup contender it can’t have goaltending that’s just good, it has to be great.
from Mike Milbury of Blogs and Colums at CBC,
Those of you who are old enough to remember the television comedy show, Dennis the Menace, are sure to recollect the grumpy old next door neighbour to the mischievous Dennis.
Somehow, someway, Dennis always found a way irritate the fastidious Mr. Wilson. Still, in the end, Dennis would somehow find his way back into his good graces.
The Toronto media can only hope for that ending with the Maple Leafs’ own grumpy head coach, Ron Wilson. It seems there is nothing the media can do that won’t ignite the man. Be it dumb questions, the inability to listen or perhaps thinking that they might know the game a little, the media always seem to get it wrong with Ron.
From Mike Ulmer of the Toronto Maple Leafs:
I was curious about the ramifications of the relationship between Ron Wilson and Brian Burke. They go back, as you may have heard, to their first week of school at Providence College in Rhode Island.
“There’s a reason best friends often don’t date,” I said. “You two have never run an NHL team together. Are you worried that the pressures of the job will affect the friendship?”
First, guys don’t like it when you refer to their business relationship as “a date.” Wilson let that one go, which was kind.
Second, this is a classic cart-before-the-horse question.
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
Tomas Kaberle is surveying the National Hockey League landscape, asking questions and opening his mind to the possibility of being traded by the Toronto Maple Leafs.
For him, that represents a whole new vision for his future. If he had done this last February, he could have been playing for the Philadelphia Flyers last night and scoring threat Jeff Carter would have lined up as a Leaf.
continued with more hockey notes tossed-in among other sports talk…
from Tom Harringon of CBC Sports,
Five years ago, I began doing research for a possible documentary on Burke for Sports Journal, the current affairs program I hosted for seven years. My interest was peaked after reading about a Vancouver radio host who made a lewd, suggestive remark about the wife of then-Canucks star Todd Bertuzzi.
Burke was outraged. He revoked accreditation for the station’s hockey reporters and pulled the club’s advertising from the station. The host was fired.
I contacted a wide range of reporters who covered the team on a regular basis to find out what was behind Burke’s actions. Whether they worked for newspapers, radio or television stations, one after the other told stories of Burke’s interfering, often intimidating style….
A producer described being invited to lunch by Burke then facing a verbal attack in front of stunned patrons. A hockey columnist said Burke met with his publisher on several occasions, demanding they dismiss the writer because of the thrust of his columns.
Others recalled scenes of Burke chewing out a reporter in the hallway outside the Canucks dressing room, in front of colleagues, with language that would make Andrew Dice Clay blush.
from Paul Hunter of the Toronto Star,
Those calling, or hoping, for new general manager Brian Burke to ratchet up the Maple Leafs’ rebuilding process by dumping veterans for draft picks, might be wise to tone down their enthusiasm.
During his years in Vancouver, Burke and his staff were not exactly draft day geniuses.
We all know that the entry draft is a guessing game at the best of times; an educated guessing game but a crap shoot nonetheless. And twice during his time heading up the Canucks, Burke completely crapped out on draft day.
Toronto will officially introduce Burke today at 2pm ET and you can watch at the Leafs site.
from Jim Kelley at Sports Illustrated,
You can bet that fans will be talking coast to coast about Burke’s rumored six-year, $18 million salary. They will surely go deep into the speculation as regards exactly how much control he received from the historically meddlesome management there….
Me, I’ll be wondering how all of Canada will deal with the fact that Canada’s team—and love or hate the Leafs, that’s what they are—is now being managed and coached by a pair of Americans.
I know we’re dancing around a touchy issue here, but my intent is not to deal in cultural stereotyping and bigotry. I’ve spent more than half my working life in Canada. I love the country and its people. The only point I’m making here is that hockey—at least from a Canadian perspective—is Canada’s game.
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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