Kukla's Korner Hockey
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.
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
Speculation abounds, for example, that Darcy Tucker is first on the buy-out list for this summer.
But what if the new GM wants to keep Tucker, or believes that given time, he could trade the veteran and get something for him?
The only sensible approach would be to put every important decision on hold, and to get a permanent somebody in by mid-June.
But that’s not the Leaf plan.
So while Peddie was ostensibly doing damage control, all it really did was make it abundantly clear that the dazed and confused Leafs are pursuing the future with continued maximum dysfunction as their guide.
from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,
Sundin is going to keep people waiting for his decision on whether he’ll re-sign with the Leafs, go somewhere else or simply retire and get ready for his induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Many NHL insiders believe after what’s been a taxing season full of disappointment, Sundin might decide to hang up his sweater and walk away, comfortable in the fact he’s had a tremendous career.
Given all the bluster about not wanting to be dealt at the trade deadline, it would seem unlikely that Sundin would sign elsewhere unless Detroit D Nicklas Lidstrom and fellow Swede does a full-court press to get him to sign with the Red Wings.
more NHL talk…
from Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun,
“It’s simply not acceptable,” said Peddie, indicating that the accountability for the Leafs’ shortcomings runs from himself to the board of directors all the way down the ladder.
“It’s very disappointing and very upsetting. We’re smart people, people who are very savvy in business. We thought we had a solid plan to move ahead but that’s not the case. In fact, we’re not set up that great for next year either.
“It’s very humbling to know we failed.”
Peddie said simply reaching the post-season is not the goal.
“It’s more than making the playoffs,” he said. “It’s about moving toward a championship. And, frankly, we made no progress toward that end.”
from Pierre LeBrun at Sportsnet,
The next move by Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment will determine just how long this funk lasts. It is the most important organizational hire, in my opinion, since the Leafs lured Cliff Fletcher away from the powerhouse Calgary Flames in 1991. Don’t need to spell out what that did to revive the Leafs’ organization.
Now they need a 2008 version of that Fletcher while the present-day Fletcher helps caretake in the meantime.
Once the season is over, the obvious names must be sought after: Brian Burke in Anaheim, Ken Holland in Detroit, Jim Rutherford in Carolina, Doug Wilson in San Jose, Doug Risebrough in Minnesota, David Poile in Nashville and Colin Campbell, the NHL’s executive vice-president and director of hockey operations.
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