Kukla's Korner Hockey
from the Toronto Sun,
For most of his illustrious career, the man known as Cujo has been the top dog between the pipes.
But the veteran goalie, who has been a starter for most of his playing days, admits that he would accept a supporting role if it meant donning the blue and white again.
“To be back here again? Ya, absolutely I would, for sure,” former Maple Leaf Curtis Joseph revealed during a phone interview last night.
Leafs officials have publicly stated that they would like to find a backup to “push” incumbent Andrew Raycroft, who endured an inconsistent roller-coaster season en route to tying Ed Belfour’s franchise mark for victories with 37.
from the Barrie Advance,
While admitting Raycroft did have some bad moments, Tucker believes Raycroft may have been a little overworked, and needs to get a solid backup – someone who has the confidence of his teammates and who can fill in without the quality of the team’s performance suffering.
“I think obviously you’ve got to find somebody that can jump in and win us some hockey games when Andrew’s not in the lineup. When he’s in there, we need him to be great. Every team needs good goaltending. We had it for the most part last year, but there’s games where Andrew could be better, as well as a lot of the rest of us who could have been better,” said Tucker.
“I don’t think you can ever create good chemistry on a team if you’re blowing it up constantly. And I think that our team needs that sort of chemistry to be a good hockey team, especially in the City of Toronto,” he asserted. “We’ve got a good group of guys, and if we can augment that with some good young guys and some free agents, I think we’re fine.”
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
The Maple Leafs quietly are attempting to lure an experienced senior executive to head up their hockey operation, Sun Media has learned.
Two high-profile National Hockey League executives have confirmed they were contacted by associates of the Leafs, seeking their interest in taking over the hockey operations of the struggling club.
Both said they weren’t interested and both asked that they not be named for obvious reasons.
At the same time, it has been learned that Maple Leafs CEO Richard Peddie recently met with legendary ex-coach Scott Bowman in Buffalo to discuss a senior position, quite possibly as team president with the Leafs.
While Bowman denies having met with Peddie and denies having interest in a position with the Leafs—“I have no interest at all,” he said in a telephone interview—Peddie was given the opportunity to deny he met with Bowman for several hours and chose not to.
from Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun,
Unrestricted free-agent winger Ryan Smyth would be a perfect complement to flank Sundin, but keep this in mind: If he was looking for a five-year deal worth $5.5 million, then his demands aren’t about to drop. Daniel Briere? Chris Drury? They might very well be too pricey.
How about what’s referred to as “The Wilbur Plan” in reference to former Leafs executive Bill Watters, who yesterday floated the idea of pursuing free-agent forwards Scott Hartnell and Paul Kariya.
Or, perhaps, do they take a flyer on Alexei Yashin at a bargain-basement price?
Then there is the issue of whether free agents even want to come to Toronto and be under the spotlight 24/7.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have agreed to a one-year deal with captain Mats Sundin for $5.5 million. It includes a no-trade clause.
An announcement is expected later today.
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
Never mind that the Leafs have gone 40 years—a lifetime for many—without winning or even playing for the Cup.
What is troubling, as the club plods directionless in the bottom half of the National Hockey League, is that the 40 years without a championship seem eerily capable of dragging into several more.
A statistical analysis of what makes a Stanley Cup champion sadly indicates how far the Leafs have been and remain from being a Cup winner.
from the Toronto Sun,
Ferguson must make a decision on unrestricted forwards Jeff O’Neill, Travis Green and Michael Peca and restricted defenceman Carlo Colaiacovo. It’s unlikely all three forwards will be back, with the 33-year-old Peca having to take a salary hit if he wants to stay and prove a broken leg hasn’t affected his game. O’Neill’s 20-goal ability was not enough to keep him from being a healthy scratch at the end of last season.
The most interesting call could be in goal, where coach Paul Maurice had indicated he would like the hot-and-cold Andrew Raycroft to play 65 to 70 games again, while Ferguson has spoken of bringing in a veteran to both spell off Raycroft and push him for the No. 1 job. Ferguson says that doesn’t mean UFA Jean-Sebastien Aubin is through here, but it’s likely the GM won’t extend the $525,000 one-way deal he had last year.
from Tim Wharnsby of the Globe and Mail,
Antropov, 27, is often injured and has seldom contributed for elongated stretches. He skated onto the Toronto scene in 1999-2000, and in the past four National Hockey League seasons he has missed 83 of a possible 328 games he has been eligible to play in because of injury. Yet his truncated participation and mediocre production resulted in his salary being doubled.
The likeable Kazak has never scored more than 18 goals in a season. Heck, Jeff O’Neill scored 20 goals this past season. Is Ferguson going to double O’Neill’s $1.5-million salary, too? Not likely.
Sure, Antropov has played on the right side of captain Mats Sundin for a couple of years now. But that doesn’t justify Antropov’s new deal. The last time we checked the Leafs haven’t won many playoff series with him.
from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
Once Toronto Maple Leafs general manager John Ferguson gets Mats Sundin signed, before the June 15 deadline to pick up the option on Sundin’s contract, and then gets himself signed to a contract extension by the end of the month, he will set his sights on a more important signing, at least as far as the team’s immediate future is concerned.
Ferguson’s No. 1 target on the free-agent market, according to those who know him best, is winger Ryan Smyth. Then again, you could say this about every GM in the National Hockey League with a minimum of $6-million (all figures U.S.) per year to spend.
There are four top-end forwards among the pending free agents - Smyth and centres Chris Drury, Daniel Briere and Scott Gomez. Given Smyth’s pedigree as a gritty character player who can score, he will be the object of the fiercest bidding war.
To answer a few of your emails all at one time, Nik Antropov has NOT re-signed with the Leafs. Perhaps close to signing, but not a deal yet.
added 12:04pm, Fan590 in Toronto reports the Leafs have agreed to a contract with Antropov, 2 years for $4.25M. Contract hsa not been finalized.
Now, what about Yashin, who wants him?
added 11:12am, from an open letter to Yashin from The Maven,
Who could have figured the nosedive that followed the wonderful Spring war with the Maple Leafs? Not me.
But it happened—and it was messier than a spilled Samovar.
You know what I’m talking about. The business about this coach not handling you right; and Steve Stirling not being your kind of mentor and Michael Peca being a pain in the prose.
And this and that and the other thing and you being the captain as well.
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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