Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun,
Yet as much as Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. prides itself on the fan experience, there are nights of church-pew silence where player chatter can be heard all the way up in the purples.
At the start of each period, the lower bowl can look like a ghost town, as the club suite holders tarry in their luxury boxes. The Leafs screen just about everything they can on a fairly new $50-million high def scoreboard/sound system and stage live hijinks around the rink. But with the notable exception of Luke’s Troops, in which Canadian Forces personnel get a heartfelt standing ovation every night, not all their skits and cartoons work.
Brian Burke was hired as general manager to put a winning product on the ice, which everyone knows is half the battle in getting people off their hands. But he’s not afraid to take the ball away from his games operations crew now and then.
He’s often seen with those big General Patton binoculars and on the road, he’s an early arrival in the press box, not only to see the warmups, but curious at what other clubs are doing to hold crowd interest.
“We will get this place rocking again,” Burke promised Tuesday, a day after unveiling captain in Dion Phaneuf and a new/old sweater design that fans had craved.
“We think we have made changes for the better already. It’s easy to create atmosphere once you are in the playoffs and that’s what we’ll be working toward next.”
from Paul Hunter of the Toronto Star,
On a team historically bereft of big-time scorers, Phil Kessel believes he can achieve what only one Maple Leaf has been able to do in the last 15 seasons.
That’s topping the 40-goal mark.
“I think I can score 40. I could have had it last year if I’d have scored (consistently). I had a lot of chances, plus I missed quite a bit of games,” said the 22-year-old winger as he passed through town for the unveiling of Dion Phaneuf as Toronto’s captain and Tuesday’s opening of Real Sports Bar and Grill, MLSE’s playpen beside the Air Canada Centre.
“I’m going to improve on last year. Hopefully, I’m going to be a better hockey player,” Kessel continued.
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
While Phaneuf repeatedly said during his coronation he won’t change anything now that he’s captain, Wilson has already cautioned Phaneuf that he may have to tone down his vocal presence.
“A woodpecker gets annoying after a while,” said Wilson. “We hear (Phaneuf) all the way down in the coaches’ office. Over 82 games, that can wear people down.”
The 25-year-old defenceman is blunt to a fault. The way some explain it, just like it was always Manny just being Manny, sometimes Dion is just Dion. He’s shocked to find things he says rub others the wrong way.
Before, Phaneuf could shrug and be the rebel. Now, he has to care. He’s the captain, and for all the players, some of whom won’t necessarily want to follow his every lead or make anything close to his $7 million salary next season.
from Mike Ulmer at MapleLeafs.com,
There are about six billion people on planet earth right now.
There is one captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
His name is Dion Phaneuf and he was unveiled to the media today at the new Real Sports Bar and Grill at Maple Leafs Square.
Six billion people. There were roughly that many on planet earth last year, and the year before.
There was no captain in Toronto.
One in six billion. Sounds about right.
The captains of the Toronto Maple Leafs have been men-about-town and abstainers, fancy talkers and quiet farm boys.
from Eric Stephens of Ducks Blog at the OC Register,
So would the Ducks consider trading Ryan for Kaberle? Murray did address that part of the speculation, calling it “ridiculous.”
As much as they want to upgrade their defense, it’s hard to see Murray trading a potential 40-goal scorer with significant upside for a defenseman who can be an unrestricted free agent in 2011 and has never shown an inkling that he would sign with a team in the Western Conference.
The Ducks would have the money to pay Kaberle but any deal would have to have the veteran also signing an extension. Otherwise, Kaberle would be gone in a year and they would have nothing to show for dealing Ryan.
And while he remains unsigned, Murray and Ryan’s agent, Don Meehan, are still talking. Both did tell the Register that there’s nothing new to report, with Murray adding that no further progress has been made.
On the surface, trading Ryan for Kaberle doesn’t seem to make any sense. Now if the Leafs were to include Luke Schenn or Nazem Kadri in the conversations …
Sources tell TSN that the Toronto Maple Leafs are expected to name Dion Phaneuf as the club’s 17th captain next week.
The team has called a news conference for Monday afternoon, where sources say the Phaneuf announcement will be made, along with the unveiling of a new Maple Leafs sweater.
from Mark Everson of the NY Post,
While the Devils’ search for their next coach continues with Chicago assistant and Jersey native Mike Haviland believed to be the latest candidate interviewing for the job, sources say general manager Lou Lamoriello may be among the strongest bidders for Leafs defenseman Tomas Kaberle.
Kaberle, whom general manager Lou Lamoriello could be targeting, has been a regular trade subject in Toronto at the usual deal junctures, but Leafs GM Brian Burke recently circulated an e-mail to other general managers outlining the upcoming window in Kaberle’s no-trade clause.
Kaberle, 32, is to make $4.25 million next season, the last on his deal before he becomes unrestricted in 2011. The Devils will be making a decision on Paul Martin, who becomes unrestricted July 1 after earning $4.5 million last year. One other possibility is Dan Hamhuis, who also becomes unrestricted on July 1.
from Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star, AMaple
Leafs general manager Brian Burke, a Stanley Cup winner with Anaheim in 2007, has his own ideas on how to build a winner.
And he’s sure to be watching Wednesday night when the Chicago Blackhawks, on the cusp of their first Stanley Cup championship since 1961, take on the Flyers in Philadelphia in Game 6. A Chicago win means the Leafs would take over the dubious distinction of being the NHL team with the longest Cup drought (43 years).
The game is ever-changing and there are lessons the Leafs can learn from the Blackhawks and Flyers about how they made it to the finals:
Atmosphere matters. From their rocking pre-game theme songs to spine-tingling cheers for the anthems to post-goal celebrations, the fans at both Chicago’s United Center and Philly’s Wachovia Centre are having a good time.
At the Air Canada Centre, any attempt at cheering — especially that “Go Leafs Go” chant after a whistle — is immediately interrupted by an in-game advertisement or some lame promotion that basically sucks the life out of the building. The Leafs tried a theme song this past season — “Free To Be,” by Alan Frew, the former front man for Glass Tiger — but it was kind of slow and kind of preachy.
The Hawks are 8-3 at home in the playoffs and the Flyers 9-1 because their buildings are hard to play in….
from Michael Traikos of the National Post at the Montreal Gazette,
Ever since Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke sent a note to the National Hockey League’s 29 other teams explaining how Tomas Kaberle’s no-trade clause works, interest has reportedly grown for the puck-moving defenceman.
But while the Leafs are free to move Kaberle at the upcoming NHL entry draft, the 32-year-old’s agent suggested that teams might want to first find out whether his client wants to play for them.
Kaberle, who has repeatedly expressed his desire to remain in Toronto, has one year remaining on his current contract. That means that if he goes to a team that he does not approve of, he might end up being nothing more than a rental player.
“As of the draft, we don’t have a no-trade (clause),” agent Rick Curran said. “But it’s almost effectively a no-trade, because unless Tomas wants to go there most general managers that I’m familiar with are not giving up asset value for a one-year player who may not even want to come to my team. Especially with what Brian wants in return.’’
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
The two loudest and most stubborn men in hockey are claiming that all is well in their apparent war of words, while evidence to the contrary may indicate the opposite.
One day after Brian Burke said he was “sour, I can tell you that” about comments made about his Toronto Maple Leafs on Don Cherry’s Coach’s Corner segment on Hockey Night In Canada, Burke said he spoke to Cherry Thursday afternoon by telephone and indicated that “it’s no big deal, I promise.”
After Wednesday’s general managers meetings in downtown Philadelphia, Burke, the president and general manager of the Maple Leafs, appeared put out about what Cherry has been saying about the Leafs and Burke on Hockey Night and indicated he would have something to say after the Stanley Cup final was over.
Never one to hold back, Burke said: “We have been getting a lot of shots on Hockey Night In Canada and I don’t think the Stanley Cup finals is the appropriate place to start throwing hand grenades back.”
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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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