Wild Day In Toronto Sports: Monster Mash, Dealing Doc, Raptors Moves

A happy early Wednesday am to all. Wild day Tuesday was. I am way behind on things so here is a rapid fire recap of the day.

First, as promised, we were able to find out who the brain was behind the brilliant hat question to Brian Burke yesterday. It was TSN’s Sheri Forde who asked the Hat Question of Brian Burke. We are told however that this wasn’t her gem, but rather the big wigs at TSN, Forde actually apologized to Burke in-advance of asking the moronic question!

Burke has been very busy and he, landed the Monster today. Here the Burkeisms for the day:

Monster Mash:

The Globe:

The sought-after 24-year-old Swede chose the Leafs over the Dallas Stars, Colorado Avalanche and San Jose Sharks because of a handful of factors. He was wowed by Burke’s determined approach and the hiring of goaltender coach François Allaire. The goalie also felt the Leafs offered him the best opportunity to grow as a player and he enjoyed his visit to Toronto, which took place in warm spring temperatures and before the city’s garbage collectors’ strike. “In the end, when I had time to digest all the information, I liked Toronto because it is a good young team with players on the way up, a good coach and a really good general manager,” Gustavsson said. “[Burke] made a few trips over to Sweden to talk to me and that showed me that the Leafs really wanted me.” …
Gustavsson remarked he likely will remain in Sweden to train, and next month he will skate with his former Farjestads teammates before arriving in Toronto in late August. Burke has his newcomer pegged as the backup and that’s okay with him.“Of course, this will be a new situation, it will be tough,” Gustavsson said. “I play hockey because I like to play. I’m coming over to improve myself and [eventually] be a No. 1. Whether that will happen in one month, one year or 10 years, I don’t know. “Now it’s up to me to make the best of the situation.”

Blair on Monster and Burke:

“So far it’s all just paper and good intentions but know this about the Toronto Maple Leafs: it would be a shock if they aren’t at least a more watchable team and vastly more interesting team in 2009-2010 now that they have landed Jonas Gustavsson in addition to their haul of free-agent defencemen. The point isn’t whether Gustavsson will be good enough to be a star in the NHL. Truth is, he might at most be a good backup. But my sense is that this was Brian Burke’s No. 1 goal this off-season: land Gustavsson, see what exactly the Maple Leafs have in him behind a reworked and likely more responsible defence (and whether he can stand up to the scrutiny that comes with playing for the Maple Leafs,) then figure out what to do for next year. And all it costs is money. No draft pick. Not even a useful third-line forward – which, as Burke will tell you, the Leafs unfortunately have in abundance.”

Kevin McGran, The Star:

“Landing the goalie is a coup for GM Brian Burke, who has already added Francois Beauchemin, Mike Komisarek and Garnet Exelby to stabilize Toronto’s defence. “I want to thank Brian Burke and his staff for giving me the opportunity to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs,” said Gustavsson. “It is truly an honour and privilege and I feel very fortunate to wear the Blue and White sweater. Toronto is a great city, with tremendous fan support, and I am very excited about the future.”

Michael Traikos, National Post :

“Toronto has 10 NHL defenceman – Beauchemin, Exelby, Jeff Finger, Jonas Frogren, Tomas Kaberle, Komisarek, Luke Schenn, Anton Stralman, Mike Van Ryn and Ian White – so Burke is likely to try and trade someone who can prevent goals for someone who can score them. Kaberle has generated the most interest. But Burke has not been satisfied with the previous offers and expects the puck-moving rearguard to begin the season in Toronto. Still, he expects the team to add either a second- or third-line forward through trade or free agency. “We’re not done. We still have cap room,” said Burke, who added that he has received a serious trade offer regarding a defenceman not named Kaberle. “I’ll probably take a deep breath now and see how things shake out. They’re still some names of interest and there will be some trade possibilities … the next thing there will be to see if we can parlay a defenceman into a forward.” The goal, said Burke, is to create as much competition for positions as possible.

More Globe:

Burke relayed a story on why he went so diligently after Gustavsson. At the world championship in Switzerland two months ago, Gustavsson made a stop with the handle of his stick in a game against the United States. When Burke chided the goalie about being lucky with the stop: “He told me that he practised that all the time. I don’t know if he was pulling my leg or what.”

USA Today/Kevin Allen:

” With GM Brian Burke having more cards left to play, it’s too early to offer any projections on where the Toronto Maple Leafs fit into the Eastern Conference in 2009-10.
But after the Maple Leafs signed Francois Beauchemin Monday, here’s what we do know about the Maple Leafs.
1. With the acquisition of Mike Komisarek, Beauchemin, Colton Orr and Garnet Exelby, the Maple Leafs are going to be far more difficult to play against next season. Komisarek is a big strong defender who will use his size . Beauchemin plays with an edge, and Exelby, while sometimes playing a bit out of control, is still among the best open-ice hitters. Orr is 6-3, 225. All four of those guys will drop the gloves.
2. They won’t be last in the NHL in goals-against, as they were in 2008-09. They should be 50 goals better this season. Improving the defense is also where Burke started in Anaheim.
3. While it isn’t certain Burke will trade Tomas Kaberle, the acquisition of Beauchemin gives Toronto a surplus of defense. That makes it easier to move Kaberle for a scorer, as was talked about earlier when there was discussions with Boston about Phil Kessel.
The Maple Leafs have nine established defensemen under contract right now, with a projected top four presently of Kaberle, Komisarek, Beauchemin and Luke Schenn. Then you still have Ian White, Jeff Finger, Mike Van Ryn, Jonas Frogren and Exelby. White played almost 23 minutes per game last season and Finger played more than 20 minutes. Two of those defensemen probably will be dealt, with Kaberle capable of fetching the best price.
Based on what we have seen thus far, it seems easy to start leaning toward the idea the Maple Leafs can be significantly improved next season.”

Rob Longley, Toronto Sun:

““I’m going to try to steal as many games from Vesa Toskala as I can,” Gustavsson said Tuesday in a phone interview from Sweden. “I’m a goalie and I want to play.

“I know the best goalie gets the ice time and if I play good I’m going to get the chance. We will be good teammates and try to push ourselves, but my goal is to be the No. 1 goalie.”

LeBrun, ESPN:

“”As you know, there’s two jobs where the athletes audition every night: pitchers and goalies,” Burke said. “It’ll be up to those two to sort it out, although it is our anticipation that Vesa will play the bulk of the games.” The signing came a day after an equally big-ticket acquisition in blueliner Francois Beauchemin, who signed a three-year, $11.4 million deal. At 29, Beauchemin has a decade of hockey in front of him. But he’s not a kid, either, which makes you wonder where the Leafs are headed in their rebuilding process. If people had expected a long journey back to respectability buoyed by high draft picks — à la the Pittsburgh, Chicago and Washington model — guess again. “We’re not doing a traditional model here. People should figure that out,” Burke said. “You look at the pre-cap rebuilding jobs, you look at Ottawa and you look at Pittsburgh, and basically the philosophy was, ‘Let’s finish dead last or next to dead last for 4-5 years and get top picks and we’ll turn it around.’ I don’t see any reason to repeat that here. I don’t think our fans here would be that patient. As long as they see a plan, I think they’ll be patient for a retooling, but not a demolition. “Stripping down to the chassis and rebuilding it is certainly not what ownership has asked me to do. We’re not rebuilding here, we’re retooling.”
“We’ve stacked up the blue line,” Burke said. “Even my harshest critic would have to admit that the blue line is in the top three or four in the NHL in terms of 1 through 6. We may not have that dominant No. 1 guy like some teams have, but 1 through 6, it’s a pretty good group.”

Brian Burke with Greg Brady on 640 Toronto:

“we are not done, logical next step would be to add a forward- time for organization take a break, I’m going fishing next week”
“enforcement of tampering is the problem”
“I went to Harvard Law School, I couldn’t negotiate the (ohlund) deal in 14 minutes”
“we have a sophisticated fan base, they know what is going on” (with respect to tampering)
“league would love to catch a team tampering, I know I worked there”
“I would be comfortable without a captain for this year, This is the Toronto Maple Leafs”

So. Head spinning yet. The Monster signing is a good sign. It’s the second time in a week where a top saught after free agent picked the home of David Miller’s garbage strike to play next year. We have heard for too long that no one wants to come here. Now the Raptors and the Leafs have been able to lure a couple of players (young and unproven maybe for the leafs in some cases) who easily could have gone elsewhere to come to the Big Stink. I really hope folks are patient with the Monster. It’s all going to be new for him.

Burke has to deal for help upfront and in my mind he has to deal Kaberle becuase he his an asset with lots of upside. Whom the other D he has an offer for is anyone guess. Burke told Brady that you view each proposal on it’s own merits. So even though he has depth at D, he wouldn’t turn down a deal for another just because of his depth. If you can improve and upgrade then you do. With that frame of mind, you deal from an area of strength when you can. Kaberle presents that opportunity.

I am troubled by what Burke told LeBrun about the re-tooling vs. rebuilding. Watters has said something very similar before. What bothers me is that Burke said that ownership and fans wouldn’t put up with a finish dead last philosophy. From the fans persepctive I think that is utter bullshit. We have suffered so long with mediocre finishes we would much rather have finished dead last and at least had a shot at a franchise player than the crap we have been shoveled. If it is true that the mandate to Burke was to retool and not rebuild than that really just sucks, and I have to wonder where the commitment really is. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with what he has done so far. I just had hoped these guys had learned that it was time to hire the right guy and do the right thing. Burke’s comments to Lebrun suggest otherwise.

Kids aren’t allowed hats in their first picture and the team doesn’t get a captain just because they don’t have one. I love that part of Burke. He truly respects the tradition of the Maple Leafs and what growing a franchise is all about. That is why he was hired in my mind anyway. He made it sound like it will be quiet for a little while, but here’s guessing his blackberry works fine on his fishing trip.

If that wasn’t enough, a US media outlet broke the Blue Jays are at least contemplating moving Roy Halladay. No shocker that JP goes to the southern media first on this one, it’s just his MO. In any event here is :

Doc Talk:


“Know this: if the Blue Jays keep Halladay and let him walk after 2010, they’ll get two draft picks. So two players won’t get it done. They’ll want to get something approximating what the Cleveland Indians received from the Montreal Expos in return for Bartolo Colon: Cliff Lee, Grady Sizemore and Brandon Phillips (the Indians also had to pick up the prorated portion of Lee Stevens’ $4-million – all currency U.S. – contract). They’ll want cost-effective players with one or two years of major-league experience at the very most and a prospect ready for the majors.Blue Jays assistant GM Tony LaCava was part of the Indians when they made that deal and was one of its architects because of his knowledge of the Expos’ minor-league system. “I’m not going to comment on this any further beyond today,” Ricciardi said. “We kept Roy away from free agency two times. The fact is he may want to explore free agency this time, knowing he can come back.” So if somebody is willing to pay the price, Halladay will be gone by the trade deadline. But the price remains what it was on Opening Day, and it won’t get any cheaper these next two weeks. Roy Halladay isn’t exactly being shopped around, but operators are standing by.”

Robert McLeod:

“Halladay, speaking to reporters before last night’s game in St. Petersburg, Fla., against the Tampa Bay Rays, said his preference to remain a Blue Jay is not etched in stone. “I want to stay, but I think it’s a situation you have to evaluate,” Halladay, 32, told reporters. “I’m really not at that situation just yet. If something does come up, you weigh your options at that point. I hate to put the cart in front of the horse and start saying ‘Do I want to do that?’ I think you just evaluate the situations when they come.”
“My goals have always been the same,” Halladay said. “I love Toronto. I want to stay here, but I want to win as well. That’s becoming more and more of a goal for me. Obviously, my first choice would be to do it here.“Like I’ve said in the past, whether or not our organization and my goals line up, it’s never always going to be that way. Sometimes teams have to take steps back, and I understand that.”

Morgan Campbell, the Star:
“”My biggest decision would be, do I feel that this (team) is going to go in a direction where we have a chance to win, and quickly,” Halladay said before Tuesday night’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays. “If it’s good for the team and it’s good for me then you go from there, but at this point it’s too early to tell. It’s just an option we have and maybe we’ll look at it.”

Bruce Arthur, National Post:

“But now that general manager J.P. Ricciardi has opened the door to a trade Roy Halladay – opened it, put out a sign, taken out advertisements with his favourite billboards – everything has changed. This cuts to the core issues of the Toronto Blue Jays. Playtime is over. Up until now, the Jays have been burbling along, and this season’s early surge has given way to a slow-motion fade as injuries pile up and the water finds its level. Going into last night, Toronto was 43-41, fourth in the American League East. More importantly, perhaps, they were 4-11 against the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays, the three teams ahead of them in the world’s toughest division. And of Toronto’s remaining 79 games, 39 were against those teams. So this season is like all the others since the World Series days of 1993 – destined to die one day at a time, all the way into autumn. What’s different, though, is that the team’s lone untouchable is apparently not untouchable any more.”
In other words, step right up, folks, and play our game. Ricciardi, evidently, still enjoys courting the out-of-town media, which makes sense for a man who may soon be out of town. He deigned to speak to the locals, too, telling the Post’s Jeremy Sandler that the idea of trading Halladay makes sense, especially if the best pitcher in baseball is not a lock to sign a contract extension before his deal runs out after the 2010 season. “There has to be a means to an end,” Ricciardi said. “You don’t want guys dying on the vine.”
Of course, the main reason Halladay’s career has been dying on the vine, one masterpiece at a time, has been Ricciardi. In the eight years he has run this team, not one meaningful baseball game has been played – not once, in his years of brilliance, has Halladay been given the ball in a game he really had to win.”
Well, not a lot of people seem to give a damn about this team right now – Toronto ranks 26h in the majors in attendance, Halladay or no Halladay. If it’s time for him to go, then trading Halladay is the most significant move this franchise could make. And it will be made under a interim team president in Paul Beeston, by a general manager that is believed by some who know him to have one foot out of the door, even if his contract has another year to run. He has made good decisions and bad decisions over all these years. Well, this is the big one. And that’s why the Blue Jays, from the very top on down, need to decide if J.P. Ricciardi is the man to make that decision. If he’s talking about it, they probably already have. Either way, he – and his bosses, all the way up – sure as hell better get this one right.”


“Halladay has certainly piqued the Los Angeles Angels’ interest. “Tony has talked to a lot of clubs, and he’s talked to Toronto,” manager Mike Scioscia told the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday, referring to Angels GM Tony Reagins. “Obviously, [Halladay] is a name that piques the interest of everyone in baseball.”

As I wrote a few days ago, the Jays need to do one of two things, either get him resigned now or move him. It’s that simple. Yes dealing him will be a hit at the gate, but no one is going anyway, so fewer no ones will go. There is a better shot that people will go if JP hits a homerun in this deal. I think Arthur in the post hit a homerun with his piece. We are at a deciding moment in the franchise. If they deal him and get a ton back it could salvage JP’s legacy here in Toronto. If he blows it……There is no room for error on this at all. This can’t be the trade of Clemens. Personally, I only want Roy to go, if he doesn’t want to sign an extension. Everyone seems to suggest that great things are coming for this team. It would suck if that were the case and he missed it by a year or two, it really wold.

Raptors Moves

Congrats are in order to Toronto Raptor Andrea Bargnani who has apparently signed a 5 year extension. Also sign and trade and three way deals seem to be all possibilities as Bryan Colangelo shapes up his roster for next season. Keep your eyes and ears tuned for the latest there.

For the time of year when it is supposed to be very quiet (see all the radio hosts and guests who are on vacation) it has been an amazing couple of days. Let’s hope it continues ALL summer so we have things to write about.


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