Wrap Up On Burke’s Maple Leaf Cleansing

Long before there were blogs or twitter there was a daily email list for Toronto Maple Leaf fans in which the author, Steve Kee used to, from time to time call upon Leafs management to “throw a bomb” in to the room. Well sports fans, that is exactly what Brian Burke did today. He undid many of the errors of regimes past. Burke blew up the Toronto Maple Leafs. The question that remains is if he blew em up real good?

It was a good old fashioned hockey trade though wasn’t it? I mean it’s the type of trade that we used to try to make when I was in fantasy leagues. Hell, it’s the type of proposals you sometimes see on message boards on hfboards.com. It was a good old fashioned hockey trade.

The best part of the trade, to me at least is that none of the experts, and I do mean NONE had this anywhere on their radar. Eklund, Garrioch, Berger, Kypreos, Dreger….not a word anywhere. Yes, some believed that Dion Phaneuf could be moved NO ONE had him coming here.

I know I say this time and again, but the hell with a business plan, but man was it fun following this on twitter today!!! Seriously, Dreger, Arthur, Kevin Allen, Mckenzie, Brady (all the awesome hockey bloggers) were on this with all us fans chirping in. It was good old fashioned fun. It was why we love sports. It was amzing to watch it unfold on twitter. Minutes after the press release went out about a press conference, twitter came to life. Everyone seemed to think JSG was the deal given the Ducks recent goalie signing. Then boom! Dreger tweets that something huge is going on. What seemed like hours later he tweeted again that Dion was a Maple Leaf. It was almost electric on Twitter. Everyone started chiming in with shock and awe. After the presser the rumours continued to grow on the Blake deal. Burke said the second deal would bring cap relief. How could the buds be adding JSG and getting cap relief. The OC register posted a story that the deal was Blake, Toskala for JSG and a 1st rounder. Sheer elation hit twitter. It wasn’t until just before the presser to announce the deal that Greg Brady was first to tweet that there was no pick involved. Seconds later Burke announced the second deal.

Back to the lack of noise. We heard that J.S. Giguere could get bought out or dealt here, but it hasn’t been on anyone’s radar of late. Think about all the “insiders” out there, and not a single one caught word of this. It’s a HUGE deal, 7 players and no one had any sense of it. AMAZING. Blake? untradeable. Toskala? untradeable. Bam- both gone. For those who acquired the Maple Leaf players, one has to think that Aristotle had it wrong when he wrote about The whole being more than the sum of its parts.

So, without further ado- here is what has been said around the globe so far on the trades:

First- some noteable quotes from those involved:

“We are in buying and selling mode,” said Burke. “Our goal at the start of the season is to make the playoffs. I know people are going to think there’s an issue here as far as my sanity. It’s still our goal.

“We have some guys who are in rental modes as far as our contracts. We’re listening on those guys. We’re looking to add as well.

“I think this deal takes some offence out of our lineup. That’s the next question, who replaces that offence?”

It’s kind of funny when you think about it. Come on now, raise your hand if you thought the Maple Leafs roster as assembled could ever land anything close to Phaneuf without dealing Kaberle or Kessel? Seriously the collection of spare parts on the Leafs in our minds had next to no value. Everyone was saying that with the exception of Kaberle, Burke would be lucky to get a 2nd round pick for any of them if he could dump them. Talk about turning nothing into something. So, the question is, what now can he do with those left who he has deemed expandable?

““Watching (Tyler) Bozak play, I’m confident he can get the job done,” said coach Ron Wilson. “We’ll bring up Marlies, but I haven’t been fair with Wallin in getting him ice time, but he’ll get some now. John Mitchell has a chance to focus on playing better without looking over his shoulder.

“I didn’t calculate how many goals we’ve lost. We’ll have to find ways to manufacture offence, but I’m confident when you give ice time to people, you can never calculate how much offence they’ll make up, but they’ll have opportunities and they’ll score on some.

“But with one fell swoop, we made ourselves the youngest team in the league. We’re not looking back, we’re looking forward now.”

Ahhh yes, HOPE. The one thing we Leafs fans haven’t had since the day Burke arrived. There wasn’t anything positive happening with this team lately and there didn’t appear to be anything on the horizon either. Younger is a good start.

“What I love about (Giguere) is, I’ve never had a goalie that worked this hard. This guy tries to stop every shot in practice,” said Burke. “He takes every scoring chance in practise as a personal challenge. Works like a dog. His technique is sound. He’s a battler. This is a guy who won a Conn Smythe in a losing battle (in 2003, when the Devils beat the Ducks for the Cup), and that doesn’t happen very often.”

This was, it appeared, Burke’s biggest problem with Toskala. It wasn’t necessarily the brutal play during games as much as it was his “preperation methods”. Burke clearly likes guys who work hard and try hard. JFJ’s goalie is gone. Toskala came in with huge expectations and he never lived up to them. When he was at his absolute best he should have been dealt.

“We want a battle in the net. Successful teams have a goaltending controversy all the time,” said Burke. “We want the guys battling for ice time. We want the guys where Ron has a tough decision: Who’s starting tonight?

“Successful teams have battles for ice time, battles for special teams. We’re trying to develop that. There’s got to be contests for jobs, contests for playing time. We haven’t had this here. We’ve had a sense of entitlement. We want to create tension where there’s enough talent level on the roster where the coach has a decision to make.”

I think that is correct. The problem is that neither of his current goalies have shown much to get excited about lately. Will that change? Let’s hope so.

““When you talk about Dion, when you talk about what you need in return, a big part was making sure you could get somebody who could handle the even strength minutes and fit in with the rest of the group,” Sutter said. “You had to get the defenceman back who could play those even-strength minutes and play that side of the ice, the right side. The next part was getting one or two forward that could play in the top nine, and clearly Stajan and Hagman can do that.”

The Ian White story is quite amazing. Going from a healthy scratch last season for how many games, to a key part of a deal for a guy like Dion is remarkable. As for Hagman, he is the only Fletcher move that has proven to have paid out what was expected. I think the biggest problem for the Leafs was that they had role players who had to play bigger roles on this team. Guys were expected to be 1st liners who are clearly 2nd or 3rd liners at best. They may very well excel in their new homes when less is expected of them.

“If the second deal happens, it’s manageable,” he said after the Phaneuf trade was announced. “Right now it’s like a new pair of underwear, it’s uncomfortably tight.”

Burke’s best line of the day, before the 2nd deal was announced, talking about the Maple Leafs Salary Cap situation.

Damien Cox:

“That it did tells you something about the way players are perceived and valued differently in different markets. See, most people see Phaneuf and his enormous salary and Hollywood girlfriend and colorful on-ice persona and think superstar. That White has more points than Phaneuf and a similar plus-minus on a much worse club would come as a surprise to many. So would the fact that in deals with Calgary to get Phaneuf and with Anaheim to get goalie J.S. Giguere, the Leafs gave up 57 goals and received only 11 in return. Still, both the deal with the Flames and the one with the Ducks share one component. The other club is taking most of the risk. If Giguere can’t play anymore – unlikely – the Leafs have added a big salary for next season, but dumping both Vesa Toskala and Jason Blake is a victory regardless of the return. At worst Giguere can mentor Jonas Gustavsson, a job Toskala didn’t exactly embrace. With the Phaneuf trade, Calgary added depth in the four Leafs acquired and may be a better team for the transaction.”

I think Damien is spot on. Everyone thought that either the current roster was worthless or unmoveable. Think about it, how can Burke lose on this deal. This team sucked, are they going to be any worse? Wilson and Burke saw things we would never see. They knew which parts were critical (probably few) and which were expendable. There were 2 guys who they probably would rather not have lost, Hagman and White. The rest of the group?????? PLEASE. In every trade there are players you don’t want to give up.

Calgary Sun:

“Ian White is highly under-rated.

Niklas Hagman gives the Flames another proven sniper.

Matt Stajan has setup skills, and Jamal Mayers packs a punch.

But none of these guys make the Flames more fearsome. ”

Perspective is a wonderful thing isn’t it? I think if I were a flames fan today I would be thinking what the hell!! Dion was a stud- having a tough time and this is all we got for him??

“Don’t get me wrong, the Flames win this seven-player deal hands-down — at least based on the expected short-term results — but there’s more to it than points and the prevention of goals.

The very reason Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke wanted to add Phaneuf to his roster is that YouTube aggression that made the former Flames defenceman such a big hit in his rookie season and garnered him a Norris Trophy runner-up position in his second year in the NHL. ”

Hands down? Hmmmmm. As a Leafs fan one has to wonder if the author has seen these guys play lately. Does this mean if the Flames make the playoffs then the Flames win it? What if they crap the bed and lose to Vancouver 5-3 after being up 3-0? It will be some time before we can say something like winner hands down…

“The upside with the addition of Mayers, Hagman and White is they play tough. They should have no trouble fitting in with the Flames and the image they want to project to opponents.”

They play tough? Come on man. The Leafs haven’t played tough all year! There are a lot of things you can say about the guys who got traded, with the exception of Mayers who apparently was tough one day, none have played tough lately.

“Based on the old adage of the team which receives the best player wins a trade, the Flames are losers. But it will take time to prove that theory.

A long time.

Phaneuf has shown he can be a major factor in games — albeit some times for both teams — and has yet to tap all his potential. Not known is exactly how much potential exists and whether he’ll make use of it all.

Could he be the next Chris Pronger? Maybe.

He could also be the next Wade Redden.

That possibility is a major reason Sutter pulled the trigger on a blockbuster. As was the emergence of Mark Giordano.”

I think these comments are fair. The problem in the NHL is that defencemen take longer to mature. Hell how many of us at various points have wanted Burke to throw Schenn out the window? You have to have patience with these guys. It says here that Sutter didn’t think he had the ability to wait. Darren Dreger is now reporting os a huge deal between the Flames and the Rangers- “Jokinen to the Rangers for Kotalik and Higgins” so this trade was obviously a precursor to something else.

Eric Duhatschek:

“Your first thought, upon hearing the news that the Calgary Flames traded Dion Phaneuf to the Toronto Maple Leafs in a blockbuster seven-player trade, was probably the same as mine: When did Flames general manager Darryl Sutter start channeling one of his greatly unlamented predecessors, Doug Risebrough?”

How many times was this reference made today? Seriously, and I don’t think anyone is saying that Phaneuf is the next Gilmour. Given the parties involved it just was too hard to believe what we were hearing.

“Still, the operative point about Phaneuf is that he was a Calder trophy contender, was a Norris trophy contender and theoretically could be that again. Who, among the players coming Calgary’s way, fits that bill?”

That’s just it. As Leaf observers it just doesn’t seem possible does it?

“Typically, any team that acquires a core player without giving up a comparable asset in return wins the deal hands down. Score this one heavily in Brian Burke’s favour – and when the J.S. Giguere deal is complete, something that was discussed as long ago as last summer, that’ll be a win as well.”

I am not comfortable saying it’s a slamdunk win, I just can’t view it as anything less than a non-lose. It’s a lot like the Gilmour deal.

“But this isn’t enough for a core asset, not nearly enough – and cannot be explained away as simply a move to shed $6.5-million (U.S.) worth of Phaneuf’s annual salary. On some levels, it looks like a panic move, borne out of desperation for a quick fix.

In the end, that Sutter would give up on Phaneuf at this comparatively early stage in his career is probably the most surprising part of the deal. That he couldn’t get more for him in return is probably the most disappointing. ”

Trying to be an unbiased observer, that is exactly what I thought when I heard the details on the deal. What does Sutter know that no one else does? Is Dion a bigger dog than anyone thinks? It just doesn’t seem right.

David Shoalts:

“By the time the Giguere trade was completed, Burke’s cap situation was actually better than it was at the start of the day. He shipped out a total of $14.93-million in salaries for this season and took on $13.25-million. That represents a saving of $1.68-million over the rest of this season. ”

And now we know why teams have cap guru’s – watching and listening to the numbers today was quite amazing. James Mirtle has a great snapshot look at the number$ involved in the trade here

“Burke said the trades, in addition to improving the Leafs defence and vastly improving the goaltending, were aimed at shaking up a country-club atmosphere on the team that persisted despite a lot of off-season shuffling.

“We have had a sense of entitlement here and we’re trying to change that,” Burke said. “Today is an important part of changing that.”

And now we know whom Wilson and Burke seemed to think were a part of that country club attitude. The old guard had to leave before the new mandate could be carried through.

Bruce Arthur:

“But that staircase remains stranded somewhere on the horizon, and in the meantime the Leafs had become a dead ritual of a team without a first-round pick. They were, in a word, pointless.”

Exactly- who the hell wanted to watch, as Brady and Watters said the other day there was NO reason to go to a game. The team sucked, they had no draft picks, the kids really weren’t playing all that much. There were more jersey’s in the stands for former Maple Leafs than current. It wasn’t a very good situation at all.

“And then Sunday, the dynamite. Goodbye, Ian White and Niklas Hagman and Matt Stajan and Jamal Mayers. And goodbye to Blake and Toskala, who might have been the two least tradable guys on the roster. Burke shipped out older guys, spare parts, replaceable pieces, toxic assets. Sure, White was having a whale of a season, but he’s not headed for a Norris Trophy anytime soon

Ah yes, Steve Kee’s proverbial bomb. Has ever a more accurate statement been written about the guys Burke dealt? Seriously. Older guys, spare parts, replaceable pieces and toxic assets! EXACTLY- it’s bang on, dead on and just purely brilliant.

“in the space of an hour, the Leafs GM changed the narrative of the entire season. Burke had spent much of the season reduced to a bystander; you saw him in the reaction shots during games, and in the occasional televised rant to the media. But he seemed neutered by the NHL’s cap system, like almost everybody else.”

I have wondered for months why the NHL teams even had GM’s. None of them have done ANYTHING since the beginning of the summer. We had heard lots of talk- but seen no action. There was no proof of life.

“But whether Burke has swung and missed or not, at least he’s taking a swing. This is the guy Leafs fans were thrilled to get; this is the guy who isn’t afraid to try, and isn’t afraid to fail. This is Brian Burke.”

Let me answer that one in the words of the immortal Hedo Turkoglu “BALLS”- Brian Burke has them. “BALLS” Brian Burke, unlike many of his GM breathern threw caution into the wind and pulled the trigger on 2 large deals. For that we should all be thankful. At least he was willing to take a chance.

“After being moved, Blake stood in a hallway in the Air Canada Centre and seemed visibly relieved.

“This is where it all is,” Blake said. “It’s not easy playing here. It’s a great organization, great fans, but there’s a lot of pressure. And it can get to you.

“Am I surprised? Yeah. Very. I never saw it coming. But I think it’s a good thing.”

A good thing? It’s a GREAT thing. Blake is another guy who never had a shot here. I hope he goes to Anaheim and lights it up. I hope he becomes the man. Most of all I hope he remains healthy for the rest of his life. Having said that, I am so glad that he is gone. The fact that we got something back for him is quite remarkable.

Bob McKenzie:

“If you subscribe to the theory that the team that gets the best player wins the trade, it’s pretty obvious who won the seven-player blockbuster deal between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Calgary Flames.

That would, of course, be… the Flames — because right here, right now — the best player in that group of seven is none other than Ian White.”

The numbers don’t lie. Statistically White is the leader. Again, you have to give it to the guy, he has worked his butt off.

“Calgary had to make this deal, and could make this transaction, for a number of reasons…..The Flames simply could not maintain status quo because their mix simply wasn’t right. They had to work too hard to score goals and had no choice but to change things up. This new mix will give them a better shot at generating goals.”

It’s always good to get that perspective. It’s just hard for me as a Leafs fan to see how this group helps them (Aside from the ability to make the deal they did tonight).

“Those who watch Phaneuf regularly say he continues to struggle in terms of being able to play the game without the puck. And that when the Flames leaned on Phaneuf to be better defensively, he bristled at the notion that he needed to change his game. Some might say it’s an ego issue, that Dion is happy being Dion and with how he plays and doesn’t like being told otherwise. Others would say he’s simply not good at that defensive aspect of the game and what you see is what you get. Others think in a less stringent defensive environment, where his strengths as an offensive defenceman and huge physical presence will be accepted and accentuated as is, that he will flourish and make the necessary adjustments to play a more complete game.”

It’s a gamble for sure. However, don’t ya think it’s one worth taking especially given the price paid?

“The other aspect of today’s blockbuster wheeling and dealing by Burke is that the Leaf GM is affecting a culture shock on his moribund hockey team, and that’s never a bad thing.

If nothing else, Burke and Calgary GM Darryl Sutter have provided us all a reminder of what it used to be like in the NHL, taking us back to the good, old days when managers weren’t afraid or restricted from taking a high dive into the deep end of an icy pool.”

Exactly, it was a really fun day today to listen and watch as this unfolded. These are things we traditionally only see once a year.

Darren Dreger:

“The Maple Leafs-Ducks deal is, temporarily, a win-win for both teams. But on the long term, the Toronto Maple Leafs are the winners on this deal because of what this allows them to do. On the short term, the Leafs will have approximately $1.5 million in cap space which they can manoeuvre between now and the March 3 NHL trade deadline. If you’re looking toward the long-term, you can look at the benefits in goal. J.S. Giguere’s contract expires after next season, so Toronto can weigh their options at that point.”

I agree with the guy who broke many of the stories today. Say what you want about DD, he gets the scoops and works hard.

Mike Brophy:

“So at the end of the day, the Leafs wind up with a stud defenceman and an expensive goaltender on the downside of his career; kind of a good-news, bad-news scenario.”

Brophy has more analysis in his article, but I got to sportsnet last and most of it has been written in the other columns too.

Scott Burnside:

“In short, this is a deal that smells ominously of panic.

Perhaps none of this might have come to pass had coach Brent Sutter been able to get more out of this talented Flames team. It was Brent, of course, who famously fled New Jersey this past offseason after failing to get a good Devils team out of the first round in two straight postseasons, claiming he wanted to spend more time with his family in Red Deer, Alberta.

Well, if you bought that line, you’d need to borrow a pair of old rubber boots from one of the Sutter farms. It came as no surprise to anyone that Brent moved swiftly to assume the head-coaching job that was made available when Darryl canned veteran bench boss Mike Keenan.

That little bit of synergy has now turned to a big bowl of muck.”

This is a very good article on the aura that is the Sutters. Take a look for more.

Allan Muir has a very good column (no exceptional nuggets specifically) that you can read here too

Puck Daddy:

“Brian Burke: The Environmental Protection Agency should have started its investigation of Burke by the time you read this, because there has to be something criminal about his massive dumping of toxic assets on Sunday morning.

The only valid concern here is that Burke has overspent on his blueline while Phil Kessel skates without another offensive player at his level. Burke was able to get away with this sort of roster in Anaheim, because Ryan Getzlaf(notes), Corey Perry(notes) and Chris Kunitz(notes) all made under $1 million and Dustin Penner(notes) made a pre-offer-sheet salary as well. The Leafs would have had a young player on that level making peanuts next season … but now the Bruins will. ”

Seriously, I know I have said it a few million times, but I can’t believe Burke got anything let alone Dion + JSG for the guys he let go.

The Anaheim perspective on the deal is here

Adrian Dater:

“The conventional wisdom on any trade usually goes: whoever gets the best player in a trade, wins the trade. It’s true that the Toronto Maple Leafs probably did get the most talented player in their
blockbuster deal with the Calgary Flames early Sunday morning. And it’s true that Toronto could be the “winner” of the deal in the long run.

But for right now, Darryl Sutter hit a home run for the Flames. I picked them to win the Stanley Cup before the season, and I feel better than ever about that pick now.”

Dater is the first out there to call this a homerun for Calgary, but time will tell.

“already had plenty of garlic, with A-list players such as Jarome Iginla, Robyn Regehr, Jay
Bouwmeester and Miikka Kiprusoff.

The Flames now have a better balanced sauce with the four Maple Leafs in the mix. Matt Stajan is a nice pinch of oregano. Ian White is a nice dash of basil. Ian White is the cilantro and Jamal Mayers is the

Sound goofy? Maybe. I’m hungry right now.”

Me too! In any event, I don’t know enough about the flames to comment. I remain steadfast that given the way the Leafs played I would be very hesitant to lay my hopes on adding any of them to another roster.

That’s all that’s out there for now. More updates as the day progresses tomorrow.

Oh yeah, the Raptors won again and the Argos tried to go cheap on a new coach and failed!

Wow what a great day, win or lose it was fun!

Damien is here

Calgary Sun is here

Eric Duhatschek is here

David Shoalts is here

Bruce Arthur is here

McKenzie is here

Brophy is here

Burnside is here

Puck Daddy is here

Dater is here

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