Sunday Maple Leaf Weekend Review

Nasty day here, so while the kids catch a movie, thought I would try and wrap up the weekend. Lots out there being said, much of it accurate, all of it predictable. I have come away with one major conclusion. The NHL draft is yet another over hyped made for tv event. It’s great for the kids who get drafted. For the general public (excluding those who are die hard junior fans) it’s really a lot about nothing. It’s a time where media types create buzz and rumours to get idiots like me excited enough to watch.

“Burke was brought to Toronto to do more than the obvious. It’s a very difficult job, having inherited this mess. But as any sports executive will tell you, managing a team and managing expectations are very different roles. Burke has managed the team reasonably well. He needs to manage expectations better, and for him, that may include toning down the buildup rather than leaving Leaf fans in their all-too-normal state of wanting more.”

That’s entirely accurate and predictable. Simmons is right on all counts with that summation. Burke has no one but himself to blame for any negativity he his experiencing right now. That’s not a bad thing, and maybe that’s the way he likes it. The reality is he set big expectations and unfortunately didn’t fulfill them. There are consequences to that. He is a big boy and he can handle this.

Simmons’s by the way was also right in this assessment:

“Some things were meant to be forever, like late nights on The Fan 590 listening to Stormin’ Norman Rumack shmooze with the “future hall of famer” Jimmy Devellano or the NHL exec, Rick Dudley. For those of us who can’t sleep, and there are many, the abruptly fired Vampire was reason to be awake”

Graveyard shift aint sexy, but Norm did it well and got quality guests.

“Attendance at the union meetings in Las Vegas was so limited, it seemed as if one had wandered into a game in Glendale. Fact is, the PA did not have enough player reps at its own meeting to tally the vote on the critical issue of voting on the 5-percent cap escalator clause that eventually was adopted through e-mail tally”

I thought the same thing when I learned of the meetings. How freaking hard is it to get guys to go to Las Vegas for free?

“Much worse, and perhaps scandalous, is that a number of players went to Las Vegas on the union’s dime, partied, and never bothered to actually, you know, attend the meetings. Wait until the summer meetings in Rome.”

Now that’s funny, I mean these guys really are all Peter Pans. Not wanting to grow up, ya know. So it’s no surprise that they go to Vegas….VEGAS….and party right? But some allegedly got so hammered they didn’t make it to the meetings… Classic! Sounds like the Olympic games when certain players trashed their rooms. Good news is that hockey players are the “nice guys” of the professional athletes.

“Players who voted against the escalator did so in order to reduce escrow for the coming season. But their votes were short-sighted and selfish, for it always is important to have the cap as high as possible and the most money possible in the system. A higher cap means more available money for free agents — and approximately five-sixths of the players in the NHL will become free agents during the term of the labor agreement……The members of the NHLPA should understand they will be facing a negotiation in which Bettman and the Board will seek significant givebacks in nearly every area. Their performance last week that was marked by apathy, self-interest and greed, does not bode well for their future.”

Is Larry Brooks really name David Miller???? Has their been a more ardent supporter of Unions over the last 10-15 years than Larry “David Miller” Brooks?

“Finally, we asked Lamoriello who would be coaching the Devils this season.

“I might have a surprise,” said the man who is never surprised.

Introducing Mike Keenan.”

Now that would be awesome. Can you imagine Keenan coaching a Lou team? Talk about a fun place to play….

File this under stupid:

“Greater Toronto Area hockey organizers are happy to have Nazem Kadri as the new poster boy for the Maple Leafs, but they don’t expect the Middle Eastern community to start flooding minor hockey.”

Really?
Really?
I mean Really?

Did someone suggest they would? I mean come on. Why even write a story like that? Don’t get me wrong, I think the fact the Kadri has been drafted is fantastic, but to put pressure on the kid that all of the sudden throngs of kids are going to start playing hockey is, unrealistic and not necessary.

Want to know why I went to the University of Vermont?

“It’s hard to believe two Harvard-educated hockey executives like Brian Burke and Peter Chiarelli would have, in the famous words of Strother Martin, such a failure to communicate. There they were on the NHL draft floor Friday night, both poised to consummate a major trade that had been negotiated over the previous two days. Burke wandered over to Chiarelli at the Boston Bruins table and said he planned to wait until after he’d made the seventh pick in the draft, and then announce a deal that would send veteran Maple Leaf defenceman Tomas Kaberle to the B’s in exchange for winger Phil Kessel and a 2010 first-round pick. “What do you mean? I’m making that pick,” responded Chiarelli. The Bruins GM believed the Leafs had included the seventh pick in this draft in the transaction, something Burke didn’t think he’d tossed into the mix. The deal collapsed then and there and the hockey world will have to wait to see if it’s resuscitated next week, next month or never”

Clearly a Harvard education is all that it’s cracked up to be. Come on folks. It can’t really be that complicated. Easy words to follow, I will trade you ___ if you trade me ____, the response is one of only 3 possibilities, yes, no, or what about ____. I mean, next your going to tell me you didn’t make a trade because of a fax machine jam…WHAT!!!!!???

These guys make big bucks and they can’t the details right in a trade?? I either have too much faith in the system or these guys pay as much attention to detail as little TSM does. One word, PATHETIC.

“Including yesterday’s draft, Burke has successfully added some youth and hope to the Leafs in the form of Christian Hanson, Tyler Bozak and first-rounder Nazem Kadri. He could know as early as today whether Swedish free-agent goalie Jonas Gustavsson will sign with the Leafs, and at noon on Wednesday will begin trolling for free agent help along with 29 other talent-hungry clubs. If Burke can realize a profitable deal for Kaberle, the club’s most talented European, the club’s new North American-first direction will be furthered and another younger talent will be added to the pile. Maybe he and Chiarelli didn’t combine their Ivy League educations successfully on Friday. But nothing was lost, with much still to be gained.”

Accurate assessment by Damien, one that isn’t really all that predictable. It’s good to see that the scribes in town aren’t dumping on Burke just yet. I think that time will be saved for just prior to training camp. If Burke hasn’t produced by then…well, he won’t face the same type of positive outlook from the likes of Cox. I think we all need to remember that Burke inherited crap. Those before him, left him next to nothing. We all know it. This isn’t going to come easy or quick. However, I still say that if Toskala played as well as he did 2 seasons ago, the leafs would have made the playoffs last year. Is this team far from a cup? HELL YES. Is it far from the playoffs? I doubt it. What this means is that Burke has to play his cards right. You can make the playoffs and still build a franchise. Don’t overpay for players, don’t sign stupid contracts. Make good draft choices, give players time to mature. Sign younger free agents and manage the cap properly. You can’t win the cup if you aren’t in the playoffs.

“But for all the bluster about truculence, Burke also wants the organization to be as light on its feet as a dancer in case the salary cap drops the season after next, and that’s why it’s what he does from this morning on that will really require prudence and forethought. It’s why even though Tomas Kaberle makes just $4.25-million (all currency U.S.) these next two years, now’s the time to move him because $4.25-million against the 2010-11 salary cap will likely be much more significant than $4.25-million against this year’s cap; certainly to any team looking to acquire Kaberle. It’s why keeping Pavel Kubina, a free agent after this year, makes sense, unless somebody seriously makes an offer that includes a top-two defenceman. There is value to having his ice time without needing to worry about having it in 2010-11.”

Jeff Blair has nailed it I think. I think that is entirely the plan. If the cap drops dramatically next year, can you imagine the position Burke will be in if he has been able to expand on his available cap space? Teams needing to dump players, free agents available and Burke with cash to spend. Can we hit fast forward to next year????

“You could argue that it will be easier to make hay in the free-agent market next summer; that Burke could very well come out of this summer with less than $20-million committed beyond next season. That would give him even more power next summer because in a market with a lower salary cap, free-agent prices could be diminished, and surprises could be in store as teams try to shed salary (let alone what might happen if there’s anything to Jarome Iginla tiring of life with My Five Sutters). That, too, is something Burke will think about. At any rate, for all the good work Burke wants to do in the draft and all the talk about building from within, it’s apparent that the Maple Leafs’ ability to manoeuvre in the free-agent marketplace will determine how soon they become the force Burke wants them to be. The draft will provide the base to build on, but his wallet remains Burke’s biggest ally in his bid to make everyone start hating the Leafs for the right reasons. ”

That sounds good to me!

“Sather meanwhile categorized the contract demands from impending unrestricted free agent Nik Antropov, whom the Blueshirts acquired from Toronto at the deadline for a second-round pick, as “ridiculous.” “Based on the first volley from [agent] Mark Gandler, there is a slim chance [of Antropov returning],” the general manager said following the fifth round of the Entry Draft. “There’s a snowball’s chance in hell that’s going to happen. It’s ridiculous. I hate to criticize an agent, but let’s have a little bit of reality here.”
Antropov, who scored seven goals in 18 regular-season games for the Blueshirts but was barely a factor in the first-round defeat by Washington, earned $2.05 million last year. He’s believed seeking a long-term deal for at least $5 million per. Good luck to him.”

Ok, let the bring back Antropov banter begin. I think his agent missed the memo on the current state of the economy. When people say that the big players will get their money, the reference isn’t to height. I would be stunned if Antropov got anywhere near 5 million a year. Sather makes mistakes, but I can’t see him being that dumb. Gandler needs JFJ to get hired quickly. That from Larry Miller here

“I’m not proud of that fact and I’m not happy about it. I feel for this kid. Unfortunately, that’s the flip-side of this business. I don’t know yet what we’re going to do with him, but, when in doubt, what you do with a good, young player is send him a qualifying offer and then figure out [the next step] later.” That’s Howie quoting BB on Justin Pogge. Personally I don’t get the hesitation. You signed a good goalie coach. You are going to hire your own minor league coach. Why not qualify him and see what happens. There is no real downside whatsoever. Berger is here

There are a ton of rumours out there right now. I am not ready to buy many of them. Not questioning the sources, rather the substance. Lots of sites are claiming that LA took Bryden Schenn out of spite for Burke. I am having a tough time believing that. Guys don’t get to be GM’s and draft based on spite. It just doesn’t work that way. Now could a deal be worked out as suggested, where Kaberle becomes a King in exchnage for Schenn, sure it could. I love reading the banter on the various blogs. I especially love it when they don’t have E’s next to the rumours. I hope they are all true and Burke is talking deal with almost every team across the league. I think a lot of it is, however hot air and should be treated as nothing more than entertainment.

Speaking of entertainment, going to take the kids to UP.

Happy rainy Sunday.

TSM

Simmons is here
Brooks is here
Blair is here

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 3
  • comment-avatar

    Pretty much the only time I ever read the Sun is for Simmons Sunday column. Really great.

    On a Jays note, he mentioned how the Jays have had disappointing attendance numbers this year, yet their TV ratings are great. Up a fair bit.

    I wonder what the reason is for that? The interest is there, but people just seem to want to watch on TV more than go to the dome.

  • comment-avatar

    Pretty much the only time I ever read the Sun is for Simmons Sunday column. Really great.

    On a Jays note, he mentioned how the Jays have had disappointing attendance numbers this year, yet their TV ratings are great. Up a fair bit.

    I wonder what the reason is for that? The interest is there, but people just seem to want to watch on TV more than go to the dome.
    Oops…forgot to say great post! Looking forward to your next one.

  • comment-avatar

    The reason that the media aren’t jumping all over Burke is because he makes their job so so much easier. Let’s face it, Burke’s hamming it up over the past few months may have cost him an opportunity to move up in the draft. But Burke has managed to charm the pants off of the media and they don’t want to kill the goose that lays the golden soundbites.

    As for Antropov, I think that Sather is every bit as dumb, if not dumber, than JFJ, and good for him for trying to milk it. Anyone who would could give Redden the contract that he did and have it still not be his worst ever move has got to be in the running for worst GM in the history of hockey. He landed ass backwards in an Edmonton Oilers dynasty and the most impressive thing he’s done since is manage to circumvent any number of public smoking bylaws (though that cigar he chomps on often doesn’t even appear lit).