Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Pierre LeBrun at Sportsnet,
But there’s a guy available right now that can do the job and he’s a free agent: Doug Armstrong.
The Leafs fumbled the ball on Bob Gainey more than a decade ago, not they’ve got a chance to hire his protege.
Somewhere along the line, Armstrong’s reputation took a hit in the arena of public perception, probably because he didn’t win a Stanley Cup as GM of the Dallas Stars from 2002 to 2007 and his team struggled in the playoffs in recent years. That’s a major reason why he got fired. Of course, they made the playoffs EVERY year he was GM. Leaf fans take note.
Consider the evidence when assessing Armstrong’s case:
Q: Hey Damien: Do you think there’s any way the Leafs and Mats might structure something for next year that allows him to play the back half of the season only, if the Leafs are in contention? It would free up cap room, allow more ice time for some promising younger talent, and lessen the wear and tear on Mats. A healthy, rested Mats could be a powerful weapon for a playoff run.
A: Interesting idea, I suppose. But pointless, and there’s no guarantee Sundin would come back as the same player he was. Moreover, he might not be inclined to sit around not getting paid for half a season if he really wants to play.
More questions answered (mostly Leafs related) from the mailbag of Damien Cox of the Toronto Star…
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
We interrupt this regularly scheduled programming – otherwise known as the Stanley Cup playoffs – for the Maple Leafs’ pursuit of Brian Burke.
It begins today. Officially, that is. Unless Gord Kirke has presented the MLSE board with an entirely different game plan, Burke has been the No.1 target of the Leafs since John Ferguson was fired in January and he’s still the No.1 target.
This thing is now going to heat up quickly.
“It’s going to go from 33 1/3 rpm to 45 rpm in a hurry,” one source said.
Update 2:33pm ET: More on the “Burke to Toronto” stuff from Bob McKenzie at TSN.
from Rick Westhead of the Toronto Star,
The seller was looking to dump a pair of tickets in the red section and wanted to sell the personal-seat licences for $20,000 apiece, (Rob) Tanguay said. There was one hitch: Tanguay said the MLSE employee wanted him to bring $5,000 in cash – at the seller’s request – to cement the deal.
“After I bought the tickets, I looked up the seller’s name on Canada411.com and contacted him, asking whether he’d received the cash,” Tanguay said. “He hadn’t. I knew right then I’d been scammed. I called (the MLSE employee) back and asked why he had wanted the $5,000 and he told me that the seller was lying and he had given him the cash. I didn’t believe him but I didn’t do anything about it at the time.”
from Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun,
Blow it up, clean it up, pimp it up.
Some or all of the above will be applied to the Maple Leafs in the next six to 12 months as the hierarchy finally responds to three straight years of playoff stagnation, part of the Loserpalooza that began in the late 1960s. Interim general manager Cliff Fletcher will lead the assault, with marching orders to rid the hockey team of dead wood, supposedly handing off to a president/GM free of meddling from the suits at Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd.
It could mean a couple more nuclear winters for a franchise too used to watching Stanley Cup parades in other cities, though some would argue its necessity.
from the CP via Yahoo,
‘But Alfredsson took some of the heat off the Toronto Maple Leafs forward Friday by blaming himself for winding up on the receiving end of a blind-side hit from Bell that will force the him to miss the Senators’ final regular-season game and at least the start of the playoffs should they qualify.
“I think it’s more myself (at fault),” said Alfredsson, who’s out with an unspecified upper-body injury and a knee injury, although he denied he suffered a concussion. “Usually I’m aware of what’s going on around me and I had no idea he was coming.”
from Don Brennan at Off the Posts,
The guys on the ice when the Ottawa captain, leader and best player was drilled in the head were Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza, Anton Volchenkov and Wade Redden. If they weren’t going to try and rip Bell’s cage off and fight him, they should have at least jumped him and tried to give his broken jaw a good rub.
There was ample opportunity for one of the more physical Senators to go after Bell later, but that didn’t happen either.
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
Their “core” has been exposed as flaccid and wildly overpaid. Their management has been discredited and banished, with the team now left indefinitely in the hands of a man fired by the same team a decade ago.
For the next two to three years the Leafs will continue to make enormous profits, ownership will remain essentially absentee in its approach, a new management team will attempt to sort out the club’s chronic problems and there won’t be a Stanley Cup final appearance, let alone a Cup parade.
Sundin isn’t going to change any of that whether he returns or doesn’t. He’s still capable of being a difference maker. Just not to this 23rd-place Toronto hockey club.
from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
“He had been getting better,” Maurice said. “He came back to practice [Monday] and we had the expectation he would feel considerably better and didn’t, so he’s not playing. If he doesn’t feel better, he won’t play the rest of the games.”
However, when Maurice was asked to reflect on Sundin’s season, one of his best since coming to the Maple Leafs in 1994, he dismissed the notion Sundin’s days in Toronto are finished.
“I’ll answer that question and someone over here will take a piece of it and say, ‘Mats might be done for the year.’ ” Maurice said. “Then we’ll spend three weeks putting out a fire that you and I just created for no reason.
“There’s going to come a point in time, in six or seven years, when Mats retires. Then you’re going to spend the next 20 years with parades, tributes, Mats Sundin nights, the ashtrays, the coffee cups, matchbooks.
“We’ll let that all happen.”
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
To listen to various opinion-makers and theorists, the club is planning or should be planning buyouts of Bryan McCabe, Darcy Tucker, Andrew Raycroft, Mark Bell and Jason Blake, among others.
That would be madness.
To start with, buy out that many players and you’d end up with an annual cap hit upward of $6 million annually for between three to six years. It’s less than the $20 million cost of keeping them on the roster, but for a team that annually budgets to spend as much money as possible, paying that many players not to play becomes a significant, long-term impediment to improvement.
A far better approach – although a more expensive one for ownership – is to send unwanted players to the minors.
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