Thursday Mail Bag
With the GM meetings over, and with very little activity, its interesting to see the impatience start to build.
Of the media, that is.
Hey, we’re all guilty. Those of us in print, TV and radio want action, want stories and want controversy. In the case of the NHL, we want trades, particularly biggees. If they don’t emerge, we’ll manufacture ones supposedly close to being done as a means of creating a sense of impending drama.
That’s just what we do.
A fascinating offshoot of this is the suggestion in several media locales – my buddy Scott Burnside at ESPN.com got the ball rolling - that Leaf captain Mats Sundin should be punished and banished if he won’t waive his no-trade clause and allow Cliff Fletcher to send him somewhere for players and prospects.
If Mats won’t do it, the reasoning goes, tell him to get lost, that he’ll never be a Leaf again after this season, his No. 13 will be burned in effigy by the MLSE board at centre ice and even worse, they’ll hold another gala night in celebration of Tie Domi’s 1000th game.
I mean, seriously, do you think the Leafs are really going to scare Sundin into doing something he doesn’t want to do? He’s 37 years old with more than $80 million of NHL earnings, and people really think he’s going to curl up in a ball and cry if Fletcher yells at him?
C’mon, wake up. You can’t force Sundin to do anything. Moreover, a franchise with a disgraceful history of treating its captains should never, ever even consider doing anything less than first class with a player who has always been first class with them.
One further thought; the reason why players want to stay in Toronto even in losing times isn’t necessarily because there’s a “country club atmosphere,” although top players are never benched or sent to the press box in this city. It’s because the money’s great, the city’s beautiful and even when they stink, they’re still treated as wonderful heroes by the vast majority of people and given almost total privacy in their personal lives. Recall Chad Kilger recently leaving the team for undisclosed reasons, and then returning, with no one bothering him as to the reason why he left in the first place. It’s a comfortable place for players and their families where the pressure of media scrutiny isn’t nearly what its made out to be.
Now on to this week’s mail bag:
Q: Under the new CBA, is it still possible to trade players for future considerations? If so, what sort of conditions are attached? Is there a deadline for naming the future considerations? I am wondering about the potential for a situation at the deadline whereby, for example, Atlanta is ready to move Hossa to (for the sake of argument) Detroit but the teams can't agree on who goes the other way. Could Hossa be sent to Detroit for future considerations to be named later in the season? Would it have to wait for the off-season?
It might set up an interesting scenario for the likes of Tampa Bay, actually. Nobody is going to want Richards' albatross of a contract but could they theoretically trade him for a draft pick and future considerations, then make the considerations Richards himself in the off-season? It would be the ultimate rental.
Joe B., Ottawa
A: Joe, deals involving future considerations are still allowed. But those “futures” have to be detailed to the league, and the league would never allow a player, in essence, to be traded for himself. Philly and Winnipeg had a couple of these types of deals a few years ago, and they’re not allowed anymore.
Q: The draft selection this summer is projecting Stamkos as the first overall pick, followed by defenceman Drew Doughty and Alex Pietrangelo as the second- and third-rated picks, respectively. Every single reporter seems to insist that Stamkos would undoubtably go first overall if Toronto chose first. Considering how hard it is to get an elite defenceman in this league, wouldn't it be better to go after either Doughty or Pietrangelo or is Stamkos just that good and that much better?
Dave S., Toronto
A: If you’re the Leafs, you’re not even thinking about position. You’re going after the most talented player, whether it’s a centre, winger, defenceman or goaltender. To my understanding, Stamkos is the cream of the crop, and it would be shocking if the Leafs ended up with the first pick and didn’t take him.
Q: Damien, I keep hearing people say that Mats would have to have a pretty good reason for not wanting to waive his no trade. Yet no one has brought up the possibility that he could be leaning towards retiring at the end of this season. Do you think this is a posibility?
Stephen Woods, Roblin, Ont.
A: A possibility, yes. Likely? No. He’s not Scott Niedermayer, with a variety of other interests he wants to pursue or young children he wants to spend time with, and he’s not Peter Forsberg, banged up and battered after years of NHL competition. In fact, Sundin said earlier this season he’s enjoying the game more than he did when he was younger. At this point, there’s no signs he’d want to quit after this season.
Q: Greetings Damien!
I'm a Leaf fan living in Scotland speaking on behalf of a small but loyal following (we stay up till 3 am to watch Hockey Night most Saturdays) and I can report that even over here we are subject to relentless Leaf bashing that fans of competitors undertake on a regular basis - sadly it is totally justified - and we're sick of it!
Our question is in regards to the next GM of the Leafs. If this organization is serious about winning then in my mind the person to take the wheel should come from the Detroit Red Wings. This club has been the class of the NHL for 15 years and has the rings to prove it. We'd prefer Kenny Holland or at the very least a managment duo of Scotty Bowman serving as Pres. with Jim Nill as the GM and whatever support staff they deem suitable.
If the Leafs are really serious, I can't see any reason such a regime can't be installed. Mr. Holland seems content in Motown but money talks; Mike Ilitch seems reluctant to let staff go but compensation can be arranged (again money talks).
Stuart MacLynam, Edinburgh, Scotland
A: Holland is right at the top of the Leaf list. The one thing I’d say is that working as a hockey executive in Detroit is very different than doing the same job in Toronto, and you’d want to feel comfortable that a person coming from Detroit would be able to do the same things in a very different market.
Q: Hey, Damien. Love your blog.
I'm not sure if you (or anybody else, for that matter) have already addressed this, but what is the situation with Mats Sundin's supposed "torn labrum"? To be in the top 20 in scoring on a team with a dreadful supporting cast is not too shabby for a player with a "career threatening" injury.
Any info on his situation and might it affect his potential trade/re-signing value?
Joe Berardi, Toronto
A: I think I’m reading some sarcasm here. Of course, the off-season story that Sundin’s hip was in such bad shape that his career was in jeopardy was simply baloney. I’m sure, like many of us, he wakes up and feels a little sore getting out of bed, but c’mon, he hasn’t even missed a game this season. So I’m guessing, Joe, that you’re wondering why that story ever got printed in the first place? Me too.
Q: I've been wondering why the Leafs haven't sent Raycroft down to the minors yet. They would have to put him on waivers, I realize, and possibly someone would pick him up (doubtful as that seems). Even if he was taken on re-entry waivers, that would suffice - saves the Leafs $1-million when the salary is split next year. Or are they just waiting to buy him out once the season's over?
Or could it be they're just waiting for the trade deadline to waive him? Giving Clemmensen or Pogge some time in the NHL so as not to put the tender groin of Toskala at risk would be ideal.
I say put him out of his misery, send him to the Marlies and see if he can get his confidence back. Since the Marlies are winning with regularity, it might be the perfect situation for him.
Matt Blackett, Toronto
A: He’s hardly in “misery” these days with the Leafs – they never play him. I’ve struggled to understand the way in which the Leafs have decided to use Raycroft since last season, and I think he should’ve been sent to the minors earlier this season. I suppose they’d tell you they don’t want to lose him on waivers. I’m not sure that’s a large risk. But playing the heck out of Vesa Toskala sure doesn’t make much sense.
Q: Hi Damien,
Love your work, hate the Leafs, love the Habs. I have question for you about rebuilding.
In today's cap era, is it worth trading all your talent away and building through the draft? People seem to think with the Leafs so bad they will automatically get the 1st pick, but that might not be the case. Even if they do, and they get top picks couple years, how will they be able to keep all these guys and build a team with depth (i.e. Pens). Then when you are good, you need to sign guys, which often means over paying for what you get.
So maybe blowing the whole thing up isn't such a good idea after all. Just wondering.
Graham Jack, Ottawa
A: Well, Graham, we’ve been been debating that subject for weeks in this mail bag. All I can say is that there are several ways to go about rebuilding, and that what people most want to see is a plan. That said, it’s undeniable that you need young, cheap players in the salary cap era to thrive, and the best place to get those players is through the entry draft.
Click here to send Damien a question and he'll answer a selection in his mail bag every Thursday in this space.