Kukla's Korner Hockey
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.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
Just how Burke goes about getting the Leafs on the winning track will be the most compelling part of watching the new regime operate — who stays and who goes among players and front-office staff.
However, it will be interesting to see how Burke handles the communication demands in a market that’s unlike any he’s ever worked in before; and in an era with more information sources than ever before.
Burke’s never been afraid to try new things. The year his Ducks won the Stanley Cup, he wrote a trading-deadline diary for USA Today that was astonishingly good reading. Even if only referenced players who were actually traded (so as not to compromise the relationship between teams and players who were talked about, but not moved), his candor wasn’t especially well-received by every member of the general manager’s fraternity.
more plus many other NHL topics…
Update 3:19pm ET: (Alanah) Just a note… if you scroll to the bottom of Duhatschek’s article, you’ll see a note about HHOF broadcaster Jiggs McDonald being trapped in Bangkok along with many other Canadians. For more info on that and how their family and many others need help, you can check out this post I put up earlier as well.
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
Luke Schenn is the club’s only “A” prospect at any level. Burke and David Nonis, likely to be named the club’s vice-president and director of player personnel, are taking on a mammoth job with few assets.
Clearly, moves like acquiring winger Lee Stempniak for Colaiacovo and Alex Steen was born of the get-back-to-the-playoffs-as-soon-as-possible philosophy. Colaiacovo and Steen should have been moved for draft picks or younger players, not a player who could make the team better today but will be an unrestricted free agent in 2010.
Similarly short-term was the thinking behind the flawed decision to keep Schenn in the NHL this season.
“Great. He’ll be unrestricted just as the team starts to get good,” said a Western Conference source.
A complete tear-down is the only logical option, which will include moving players like Tomas Kaberle, Pavel Kubina, Nik Antropov and Alexei Ponikarovsky for future assets.
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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