Kukla's Korner Hockey
Globe & Mail writers Matthew Sekeres, Eric Duhatschek, Allan Maki and Tim Wharnsby have put to together an assessment of the draft situation for all six Canadian teams. They take a look at each team’s available picks, specific needs, salary cap space and the progress of their top picks from last year.
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from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
So here’s how Cliff Fletcher proves he’s not yesterday’s man.
For the Maple Leaf general manager – let’s drop the interim tag, shall we? – to demonstrate he has a true sense of vision beyond finding a way just to get the club back into the playoffs, he needs to do something other than contradicting himself and hiring old friends.
So how about coming away from this weekend’s draft in Ottawa with not one, but two quality first-round picks?
from Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun,
“If you are going to do something, now is the time,” Fletcher said yesterday from Arizona. “A lot of trade discussions have already taken place.”
A month from now, the likes of Darcy Tucker, Bryan McCabe and even Mats Sundin—the team’s veteran core dating back to the Pat Quinn era—all could be wearing different NHL jerseys. There are rumblings that McCabe would be willing to waive his no-trade clause in order to go to the New York Islanders on Long Island, the site of his off-season home.
“Hopefully, our team is going to look substantially different,” Fletcher said. “If we can bring in at least five or six players, new faces, that would be good.”
From Dan Wood at Ducks Blog,
Burke, though, isn’t the only name being bandied about by the out-of-control Toronto media. Reporters who cover the Leafs have also mentioned Doug Wilson of the San Jose Sharks, David Poile of the Nashville Predators, Darcy Regier of the Buffalo Sabres, Doug Risebrough of the Minnesota Wild, Jim Rutherford of the Carolina Hurricanes, Jay Feaster of the Tampa Bay Lightning and even Ken Holland of the Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings. Along with Burke, that’s more than 25 percent of the general managers in the league, and the supposed logic is that any or all of them could become available after next season.
If nothing else, Toronto’s “brain trust” has given all of these men tremendous leverage to negotiate new contracts with their current clubs. Even worse, the Leafs brass has created more than one potential conflict-of-interest scenario. What if, for example, any of these general managers happens to swing a trade with Toronto, particularly if the deal might be construed as somewhat one-sided in either the short- or long-term? You think that might just raise some eyebrows at NHL headquarters?
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.
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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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