Kukla's Korner Hockey
From Ed Willes at The Province,
As anyone who’s seen an Oliver Stone movie can tell you, it’s now clear that Wednesday’s TSN report was the first act in a sequence of events which will inevitably lead to Brian Burke and Dave Nonis reuniting in Toronto to run the Maple Leafs.
I mean, who would argue differently? The crack management team at Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment has long since targeted Burke as the man who would be king of their empire. Nonis, his close confederate and former first lieutenant with the Vancouver Canucks, has recently been made available amid an equally interesting set of circumstances.
Put it all together and the inescapable conclusion is Nonis has been approached to serve as a caretaker GM in Toronto while Burke completes the last year of his contract with the Anaheim Ducks. The two allies will then resume their working relationship in the Big Smoke in 2009-10 with Burke running the show and Nonis serving as his No. 2 and that will wrap up everything in a nice, neat package.
continued… and as Willes goes on to note, there’s some problems with this theory.
Update 3:44pm ET: Jim Kelly at Sports Illustrated doesn’t think the idea is as crazy as it seems.
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
From the day Richard Peddie’s lips were caught moving while Fletcher made the opening remarks on his second tour of duty with the Leafs to yesterday’s rather laughable press conference, it’s become pretty clear why the MLSE board hired Fletcher.
They wanted him to do their bidding – just as he did in 1996 when he was instructed to trade away a slew of high-priced veterans and not to sign free agent Wayne Gretzky – and they want his immense credibility in the industry to hide behind.
Beloved in the hockey world, he’s the perfect front man.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have fired coach Paul Maurice and sources tell TSN that the team has approached the Vancouver Canucks asking for permission to speak with recently fired GM Dave Nonis.
Nonis would be brought in to handle the Leafs’ managing duties through next season, with speculation suggesting the Maple Leafs would then approach Brian Burke at the conclusion of the season, with designs on Burke overseeing the entire hockey operation with Nonis continuing to occupy a management role as well.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have fired coach Paul Maurice, sources tell TSN.
Maurice had one year remaining on his original three-year contract.
added 11:42am, Leafs have called a major news conference for 3pm today.
Update 1:20pm ET: Some analysis from Adam Proteau at The Hockey News. To wit… Maurice was fired 3 months too late.
Update 3:06pm ET: Not much said at the press conference but a couple quotes from GM Cliff Fletcher related to the termination of Maurice and Randy Ladouceur . Specifically:
“This is the start of a new era for the Maple Leafs” and
“There will be substantial news coming from the hockey club in the next 6-10 weeks.”
from Duffer’s Dabbles at the Windsor Star,
A prominent National Hockey League source insists that the next general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs will be Colin Campbell, currently the senior executive vice-president and director of hockey operations for the league and the man who metes out discipline to miscreant players. Campbell, a former player and assistant coach with the Detroit Red Wings who was coach of the New York Rangers from 1994-97, has no previous experience as an NHL GM. If Campbell is the man, look for ex-Leafs coach Mike Murphy to be promoted from his role as senior vice-president of hockey operations (Toronto) to replace Campbell at the league’s head offices in New York.
more hockey talk…
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.
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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