Kukla's Korner Hockey
From Paul Hunter at the Toronto Star,
His biggest worry at the start of the season wasn’t hockey, it was wondering whether he would see his three children grow up.
“My heart wasn’t 100 per cent,” he said at the NHL awards gala last night. “It took me a while to figure out that everything was going to be okay.
“It was a tough year, coming to a new city and new team. When you come in you have high expectations. When you get hit hard like that – it’s like walking down the street and you get hit by a semi, blindsided – it was a frustrating year, it was a disappointing year. I’m excited to start fresh next year. I know I’m going to have this the rest of my life and I know I’m going to be okay.
“I have something to prove.”
From Damien Cox at The Star,
So while the headlines today will note the fact that Cliff Fletcher will be GM of the Leafs through the 2008-09 season – oh gosh, aren’t we all shocked? – the truly important news is that Peddie will remain as team president.
Like a bad odour, you just can’t make this guy go away.
From the day Peddie ascended to the power position of having both the Raptors and Leafs report to him in 2003, the hockey club has gone straight downhill. You’d think his bosses might wonder why there hasn’t been a Stanley Cup playoff game at the ACC since 2004.
Instead, he’s managed to survive. Again.
From Michael Traikos at the National Post,
A day after disparaging remarks were made about his client, Darcy Tucker’s agent said the Toronto Maple Leafs forward has prepared for the possibility of playing in another city next season.
“This is a business,” Carlos Sosa said in a phone interview from his law office in Seattle. “And if the Maple Leafs want to make a business move between June 15 and 30 when they can buy out contracts, that’s their right to do that. We can’t control that.
“Is he going to retire? No, that’s out of the question. He’s got lots of years left. He wants to win a Stanley Cup. But if a buyout comes, we will pursue the other markets that come available.”
From David Shoalts at the Globe & Mail,
The Leafs do not expect to hire a new GM until the summer of 2009 because that is when the contracts of several of the top NHL general managers expire. Toronto sports lawyer Gord Kirke, who is one half of the search committee along with Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment president Richard Peddie, said this will give the Leafs the best possible field from which to make a selection. In the meantime, Fletcher will run the hockey team.
“Most of the [GMs] at the top of our list are under contract,” Kirke said Wednesday of the Leafs’ list of candidates. “Our information is there are several, you might even say many, who are possibly coming off their contracts at the end of the coming season. There’s a pretty good free-agent market coming up.”
From Damien Cox in the Toronto Star,
Look, Cliff Fletcher stated categorically on April 7 he wouldn’t be the one to fire Paul Maurice. A month after that, he contradicted himself and fired Maurice, saying it was his job to “clear the decks” so the next GM could make his own choice.
And yesterday? Why Fletcher contradicted himself again and hired a coach to a huge, long-term deal, thus clogging up the decks again. Best to write down things the man says in pencil, methinks.
Wilson’s a good coach, but Maurice was a good coach, too, and good coaches can’t overcome lousy, overpaid players, misguided and/or short-sighted management and clueless, fixated-on-23-per-cent-return owners who think tradition is celebrating Tie Domi’s 1,000th game.
Not that it was exactly a secret before this moment, but the Toronto Maple Leafs have formally announced their contract agreement with Ron Wilson. Press conference is being carried live now and can be seen at this link.
More on Wilson at Mike Ulmer’s blog at TorontoMapleLeafs.com, who shares his thoughts on the new coach.
At THN, Adam Proteau provides some analysis on the links between this and Brian Burke rumors:
Really, there can be no more doubt as to who Toronto’s targeting for the GM position. If the team wanted a “proven winner,” it would’ve/should’ve hired Craig Patrick or Neil Smith by now.
The fact they haven’t, combined with Burke’s unwillingness to sign a contract extension after the Ducks prevented him from even talking to the Leafs’ GM search committee –which I believe is currently being jointly sponsored by O.J. Simpson and Iraqis For Finding Weapons of Mass Destruction – tells you all you need to know.
Note: David Shoalts at the Globe & Mail also had thoughts on this yesterday
Update 4:01pm ET: Sharkspage provides a partial transcript of Wilson’s remarks today.
All the news from Spector:
Thankfully we’ll know in about three weeks what Sundin will do, putting an end to months of speculation over his future. I still have my doubts that the Leafs will buyout Tucker but I am convinced Raycroft will be bought out. As for Redden, why would the Leafs want him?
From Mike Brophy at The Hockey News:
Watching the Toronto Maple Leafs conduct business is always an interesting proposition.
Unlike watching a well-oiled success story like the Detroit Red Wings, a team that hires well, scouts well and gets the desired results, the Leafs are more like watching a drunken sailor on leave trying to weave his way through traffic while traveling westbound on Highway 401 East – on a bicycle.
plus more on the Leafs… if you’re up for that.
From Kevin McGran at the Toronto Star,
“An opportunity to coach a team, an Original Six team, is very intriguing to me,” said Wilson. “It’s a team that I began with, I kind of feel like I might have an opportunity to complete the circle. A team that maybe right now is ... in a little bit of disarray. And I’ve functioned very well in helping those teams get on the right path.
“With what lies ahead for the Leafs, having to go a lot younger, and all the situations that are going to happen with transition, I think I’ve been able with my experience to kind of navigate through all that. Hopefully I can get the Leafs turned around in short order.”
From Lance Hornby at the Toronto Sun,
Local TV stations have been running clips of Ron Wilson snapping at the media to underline the thorny side of the projected new coach of the Maple Leafs.
Wilson has coached more than 1,000 games, all in what can be termed non-traditional hockey markets: Anaheim, Washington and San Jose. Sensitive to being second-guessed, even for an NHL coach, Wilson never has faced four newspapers and four all-sports electronic outlets on a daily basis—and that would be just daily practices.
But Cliff Fletcher, who hopes to have Wilson under contract by Monday, is confident his man won’t burn in the atmosphere of the alleged centre of the hockey universe.
more odds & ends on the Leafs
Note: Tonight, TSN states that Fletcher and Wilson are set to meet again Sunday to iron out some issues, with the likelihood they’ll announce a 4-year term for Wilson within days.
Update 10:01am ET June 8th: Ron Wilson has reportedly been hired, but with the formal announcement expected on Tuesday.
Update 3:23pm ET June 8th: From the CP via the Globe & Mail,
“We have a verbal agreement but nothing’s on paper yet,” Leafs interim GM Cliff Fetcher told The Canadian Press on Sunday. “It isn’t a contract until it’s signed by the parties. And that won’t happen for a couple of days.”
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.
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