The Spin will return March 2nd.
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|The light went on last night for Tusty - five times.|
If Jiri Tlusty’s five-goal game for the Marlies Thursday Wednesday night teaches us anything, its to not be too hasty in judgment on young hockey players hoping to one day become Maple Leafs.
Tlusty made a fool of himself with his web antics last year and hasn’t blown the doors off anyone as a professional, but then suddenly he had one of those nights that make you think that eventually, he’s going to get it.
“At some point, it’s like the light just goes on,” said Ron Wilson recently, not referring to any Leaf prospect in particular.
Same goes for Justin Pogge. To me, the way in which the Leafs have gone about trying to develop this young goaltender has been intelligent and exemplary, with the exception of sitting him down for almost the entire AHL playoffs last spring.
Whether Pogge makes it as a No. 1 NHL goalie now is almost beside the point. The idea is to bring him along slowly and hope he gradually finds his game and learns from his mistakes. It’s incredible how many want to make snap judgments on whether he can play or not, applying very different standards to his play than would be applied to a forward or defenceman.
Give the likes of Tlusty and Pogge time. After all, it’s not like the Leafs are going anywhere fast right now.
One final note. It continues to blow my mind that some insist Mats Sundin “owed” the Leafs the chance to trade him last winter and get draft picks and prospects for him.
Here’s what he owed the Leafs.
He owed them a willingness to play hard under the terms of his contract, to play through injuries, to provide solid leadership, to put points on the board and to set an example for young players. His job was to fulfill his playing contract, period.
To wallow in these ill-conceived, illogical past grievances against the player who was the team’s best for more than a decade is to demean not only him, but the franchise and the sport.
Now on to this week’s mail bag:
Q: It's interesting that GM Bob Gainey is the one dictating Alex Kovalev's sit-down for a few games. Doesn't that indicate the coach's lack of authority ? If this happened in Toronto, wouldn't the scribes and talk-heads be criticizing Brian Burke for meddling in the coach's realm? Me thinks so. Gainey's nice guy image and personal suffering seems to buy him sanctity. N'est pas?
Carlos Harvoski, Peterborough
A: All I can tell you is that if Burke did something similar with, say, Nik Antropov, the point on which I might criticize him would not be for usurping the responsibilities of the coach. The coach’s job is to take the players given to him by management and deploy them as best as possible. Gainey was perfectly within his job description to send Kovalev home. If he was to dictate ice time and linemates, that would be a different story.
Around this time of year in the NHL season, its always helpful when somebody sets the market.
That, to some degree, is what happened yesterday when Atlanta peddled 39-year-old defenceman Mathieu Schneider as a rental player to Montreal for a package of draft picks. The Thrashers get a second round pick in 2009, actually Anaheim's pick, and a third rounder in 2010.
The Habs get Schneider and a conditional pick that could be as high as a third rounder and as low as a fifth rounder in June, depending how the Canadiens fare in the post-season.
So a mid-range second rounder - the Ducks are 18th overall as of today - for a puck-moving rearguard with a few miles left on his chassis who is slated to be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
For a team like the Leafs that has a couple of defencemen to move, this is useful information. For GM Brian Burke, of course, there's a certain six-degrees-of-separation feel to the scenario, for it was he who traded Schneider from the Ducks to the Thrashers in the first place to clear up the cap space required to re-sign Teemu Selanne.
The Leafs, it's needless to say, have only one untouchable on their roster, and that's Luke Schenn. Otherwise, any player could be had, with different trade values assigned to them all.
The four players believed to be most in play, however, are rearguards Pavel Kubina and Tomas Kaberle, and forwards Nik Antropov and Dominic Moore. Kubina and Kaberle both have no-trade clauses and time on their contracts beyond this season, while Antropov and Moore are both pending unrestricted free agents.
Interestingly, the approach on all four is likely to be very different.
For Kaberle, don't listen too closely to what Burke is saying publicly. He's trying to set a market. But the approach the Leafs will take is that they will decide what they must get in a deal - let's say a first round pick and a top prospect - and then only listen to offers that hit that standard
Otherwise, Kaberle stays, at least until next February when his value might be even higher.
With Kubina, you get the best deal you can knowing you can always trade him in the summer when his no-trade evaporates. San Jose wanted him last winter and his value hasn't dropped, but if Burke has to wait until the draft to move the big blueliner, he'll wait.
With Antropov, the Leafs will take the best offer. Antropov's going, and the value on his services will be set by the number of teams Burke can get interested in the tall Kazakh.
Finally, Moore is the trickiest scenario of all. Teams are going to want him, and he's having a very strong season.
But do the Leafs? They plucked him off the waiver wire last winter, and if they could get a second rounder or the kind of young player with size and toughness that Burke wants, chances are they make the move.
What's a bit unclear is whether the Leafs intend on signing him if he isn't moved before the deadline.
But the approach on all four players - Kaberle, Kubina, Antropov and Moore - is very different.
You have to believe that at the very least, two of the four are headed out of town.
So I look at available Canadian hockey players and I see no fewer than 11 centremen worthy of serious Olympic consideration.
That's just the centres.
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|Savard and Green: Teammates in 2010?|
Sidney Crosby, Vinny Lecavalier, Joe Thornton, Mike Richards, Ryan Getzlaf, Marc Savard, Patrick Marleau, Travis Zajac, Jason Spezza, Jonathan Toews and Eric Staal. If you want to make it an even dozen, anyone who saw Andrew Cogliano skate at the all-star game in Montreal might argue you cannot leave that kind of speed off this team. Oh yes, there's also Derek Roy and Brad Richards.
See how quickly 11 became 14? And that's just the centres!
How, with a year to go before what may be the biggest hockey competition in the history of the country, will Steve Yzerman sort this out? Sure, you can shift one or two to the wing. Marleau for sure, maybe Staal.
But you can also get yourself in a lot of trouble by just putting a team together of seven or eight centres and expecting some to magically become solid wingers in both ends of the ice.
The choices won't be as hard among wingers, nor among the goaltenders, if only because nobody has stepped up to take a job away from Martin Brodeur or Roberto Luongo, and Brodeur hasn't even been playing.
On defence, we know it will be a transition time for Canada, with as many as five rearguards from the 2006 Olympic roster not on the squad this time. Which among the younger group are truly ready for this pressure-packed stage will be a tricky guess, and don't forget a couple of the twenty-something defenders froze in the spotlight at the world championships gold medal game in Quebec City last spring.
This we know. Some of the guys who look great now won't look so good next November, and some of the players who don't appear to be strong candidates now will be next fall. Also, while everyone loves change, you need that significant level of experience to win a competition like this.
So instead of saying this is the projected team, let's say these are the leading candidates for the 2010 Canadian Olympic team as of February, 2009. I'm not going to chicken out by taking a bunch of centres either. I'll only move one to the wing.
Here goes. And don't worry, I know you'll disagree:
GOAL: Brodeur, Luongo, Marc-Andre Fleury.
Fleury gets the nod as No. 3 because at least he's played in a Stanley Cup final. This should have been Carey Price's job to lose. Steve Mason? Not taking a sophomore who by the time this team is selected won't have 75 NHL starts on his resume.
CENTRE: Crosby, Lecavalier, Getzlaf, Savard, Mike Richards.
No Thornton? Are you kidding? Well, somebody has to be left off, and I want Richards on this team for his gritty attitude and leadership. Savard? He's the No. 1 centre on the best team in the league. I would worry with my group, however, that there isn't enough big-time international experience. But it's a heckuva group nonetheless, wouldn't you say?
LEFT WING: Rick Nash, Ryan Clowe, Simon Gagne, Eric Staal.
Great size. Staal is the only centre to shift over. Gagne, if healthy, is still among the best two-way forwards in the game. Apologies to Ryan (Captain Canada) Smyth, Milan Lucic, Mike Cammalleri and Scott Hartnell.
RIGHT WING: Jarome Iginla, Jeff Carter, Shane Doan, Marty St. Louis.
Came close to picking Devin Setoguchi over St. Louis. That may happen in the end. Dany Heatley currently on the outside looking in.
DEFENCE: Mike Green, Robyn Regehr, Dion Phaneuf, Shea Weber, Dan Boyle, Jay Bouwmeester, Chris Pronger.
Pronger gets to stay for now because of the experience, but he's on the bubble. Just never been that impressed by Bouwmeester in these big internationals and would be prepared to look hard at Brent Burns, Duncan Keith and Brian Campbell. Braydon Coburn and Dennis Wideman very, very close. But somebody has to stay home
TAMPA—The Maple Leafs waiver list is a busy place these days.
Last week, defenceman Staffan Kronwall went on re-entry waivers and was claimed by Washington, and today forward Jeremy Williams cleared waivers on his way back down to the minors to join the AHL Marlies.
Also today, the Leafs put veteran forwards Bates Battaglia and Boyd Devereaux, both of whom have been with the Marlies all season, on re-entry waivers. As with Kronwall, its more of an effort to give those players an opportunity to be claimed by other NHL teams and get back up to the big leagues.
In Kronwall's case, the Caps picked him up for half of his remaining salary while Leafs are left with only 50 per cent of the remaining balance on his $487,500 salary cap hit. If Battaglia ($675,000) or Devereaux ($575,000) is claimed, the Leafs will again be left paying half the salary and assuming half the cap hit.
If neither veteran is claimed, they’ll have to go on the Leafs’ NHL roster for at least a day or two, and its possible that they might even end up playing some games on Ron Wilson’s roster.
This is Brian Burke’s style. He lost goalies Michael Leighton and Ilya Bryzgalov on waivers while with Anaheim because he promised those players they would get the opportunity to be claimed by other NHL teams, and they were.
Now on to this week’s mail bag:
A: I doubt it will reduce Antropov’s value. He’s been around for a decade, and teams know what kind of player he is. That said, if he were to get hot, he might fetch more before the March 4 trade deadline. I think Burke and Wilson are less concerned with Antropov’s points output and more bothered by his team worst plus-minus figure and overall play. Moreover, the Leafs are just not interested in signing him to a multi-year, big money deal this summer, and never have been.
On Kronwall, as explained above, Burke promised the defenceman he would be recalled at some point during the season to be put on re-entry waivers, and Burke kept his promise. This is a time of year when players are much more likely to be claimed.
A: I think everybody from coaches to players gets the blame. But I think when you look at the Leaf roster, particularly absent Mike Van Ryn and Tomas Kaberle from the blueline, its just not good enough. The blown leads, to me, are about iffy goaltending – not that any of the goals in Florida the other night were necessarily bad, but Toskala could have come up with one big save – and an absence of leadership from veteran players.
Don’t forget, this blown lead problem was also happened last year under Paul Maurice. That said, I am surprised to some extent the Leafs haven’t played better defensively under Wilson. Again, goaltending has been a big problem, and that doesn’t have anything to do with defensive systems. But I think the coaching staff and Burke don’t want to play a very conservative, trapping game, and the result has been a team that has scored a little more and given up a lot more.
So here's what we're supposed to believe.
At a time when he was in the first few years of a ginormous 10-year, $252 million contract to play professional baseball, Alex Rodriguez was merrily popping and otherwise ingesting a little of this, a little of that to juice his talent, all along knowing it was illegal stuff but not really having any idea what he was putting in his body.
According to Rodriguez, it could have been anything. Sugar. Strychnine. Cod liver oil. Flaxseed. Human growth hormone. Vitamin C. He had, and has, no idea what it was he was taking.
That's a little hard to believe.
Other parts of the carefully managed A-Rod/A-Fraud/A-Roid confession yesterday, on the other hand, were very believable.
That Texas Rangers team, it would appear, was Steroid Central for years, long before Rodriguez got there. That he says a "culture" was prevalent in the game and with that team that told players that taking performance-enhancing drugs was acceptable makes sense. That he felt pressure to do whatever he could to justify the biggest contract in baseball history makes sense as well, although it's a sad commentary on the insecurities of a superb athlete.
That baseball was turning a blind eye to an awful lot of shenanigans in those days as Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa put the game back on the front page with their home run-hitting feats is a fact, and it's rather humorous now to hear so many baseball people say they had no idea what was going on in clubhouses back then. The union, for goodness sakes, was apparently tipping players off to "random" drug tests, so somebody knew something.
C'mon. Everybody saw the explosion of muscles everywhere. Heck, McGwire's bottle of androstiendione was there in his locker for the world to see. Instead of an investigation, however, what we got was an admonishment not to ruin the fun and anyways, how could steroids help a guy hit home runs anyway?
Remember that? People used to say it all the time. Happily now, in Feb., 2009, in the week of Darwin's birth when the evolution of man in sport should be better understood than ever before, you're not hearing such nonsense as much.
So there are parts of Rodriguez's story that sound logical, and parts in which his conveniently foggy memory make him sound like Roger Clemens alleging that Andy Pettitte "mis-remembered" things from the good old days.
That said, Rodriguez was smart to get out in front of this story. He learned that from Pettitte and Jason Giambi and clearly has seen that the way in which McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro and Clemens have handled allegations against them is not the way to go. I would still argue that if McGwire had come clean about his drug use, the path to the Hall of Fame would now be clear.
The crucial difference for Rodriguez when compared to McGwire and Clemens, however, is that he's still playing. He has a chance, over the next 7-10 years, to make all this seem like a bad memory, to perform clean at such a level that he'll be viewed no worse than someone like, say, Santonio Holmes, who dealt drugs as a teenager and went on to catch the winning pass in the Super Bowl.
The list of athletes with checkered pasts is long indeed, and that's the opportunity at hand for Rodriguez, to make his drug use of the early part of this century part of his past, but not his lasting legacy.
The biggest obstacle to doing that is the fact that he's just not a well-liked athlete by the media, his teammates, other players and his coaches.
Being A-Jerk is likely to now catch up to him more than being A-Roid.
The startling piece in the latest edition of Maclean's magazine in which Mike Sanderson, the father of the late Don Sanderson, speaks his mind on the issue of fighting in hockey truly puts the godfather of fighting on skates, Don Cherry, in a desperate light.
While Cherry has insinuated that Mike Sanderson, despite the death of his 21-year-old son after a hockey fight while playing for the Whitby Dunlops, still supports the notion that fighting is an integral part of the sport, the elder Sanderson says that actually isn't true at all.
Even worse, he objects to Cherry's characterization of him as a friend and kindred spirit who was there at Don Sanderson's funeral in Port Perry, Ont and later pronounced to a national TV audience that Mike Sanderson is a "hockey guy" who understands the role of fighting in hockey.
“He said we sat there like we were buddies (at Donald’s funeral),” Sanderson says in the Maclean's article written by Charlie Gillis. “I’m, like, no we didn’t.”
While some have been accused of using the death of Don Sanderson to further the effort to ban fighting from hockey, Sanderson's father seems to feel he's the one who has been used by those who would see the practice continue. Mike Sanderson says he supports a regulation that would lead to automatic ejections for fighting.
"Helluva rule," he tells Maclean's.
It's a powerful piece, one that vividly illustrates the suffering of a father over the needless death of his son, and his frustration that the act of fighting that led to his son's death is still seen by so many as an indispensable part of the sport.
You'd think more would want to listen to a father who has lost so much. Actually listen, that is, and not just hear what they want to hear.
The contributions of one Georges Laraque, it seems, have once more shifted the complex discussion of fighting in hockey.
That Laraque, the game's reigning heavyweight champion, has weighed in with some intriguing thoughts is meaningful, for none of the pro-fighting crowd will be able to shout him down, or claim that he has no business discussing fighting in hockey.
In an interview with TSN's Darren Dreger, Laraque called for players wearing visors to be prohibited from fighting and for fights to be stopped as soon as a player's helmet comes off.
Interestingly, Laraque said he's fully behind new regulations in the Ontario Hockey League on fighting instituted after the recent death of Whitby Dunlops defenceman Don Sanderson in a fight.
|RYAN REMIORZ/THE CANADIAN PRESS|
|Georges knows a thing or five about fighting.|
"The whole world is watching because some one in our sport has died," Laraque told Dreger. "The Ontario Hockey League made changes, so what examples are we (the NHL) providing. If we don't adjust, we're a bush league!"
In the OHL, new regulations say a player who takes off his helmet during a fight or undoes the chinstrap is liable to a one-game suspension. If a player removes his opponents helmet during a fight, he's liable to a one-game suspension and an extra two-minute penalty.
Laraque said no player without a helmet should participate in a fight.
"Every fight a guy ends up on the ground and risks hitting his head on the ice," he said. "It's simple. If the helmet comes off, or a player purposely takes it off, the ref should come in an stop the fight . . . It should be automatic . . . when the helmet comes off, the fight is over and if a guy throws a punch at a player without a helmet, he should get an extra penalty for that, too."
This is an interesting stance for Laraque to take. It comes on the heels of similar comments from NHLPA boss Paul Kelly, and shortly after NHL commissioner Gary Bettman called for a review of what he called the "rules of engagement" for NHL fighters. What Laraque must understand, of course, is that if his views were to become NHL law, less than half the players in the league - the non-visored ones - would be permitted to fight, and the circumstances under which those fights could take place would be very limited.
Given that Kelly and Bettman are also in favour of a rule that would grandfather in the use of mandatory visors, this would naturally, over time, produce the end of fighting in the NHL.
Laraque's comments add more fuel to the public debate raging over fighting in the NHL, and makes it more likely the NHL general managers meetings in Florida in early March which are expected to include a wide-ranging discussion of fighting could become very interesting.
Its the first time, really, that a big-name NHL enforcer has come out calling for tougher rules to regulate fighting.
Man, did a few people get riled up yesterday. All over the wording of a trade. Yikes. But that's the great passion there is for the sport of hockey in this town and in this country. People can care an awful lot about the smallest details.
So we'll leave the Luke Schenn trade debate for a moment. Never thought it would get that heated, and my goodness, some people out there get their feelings hurt rather easily. Hey, we all give and receive, and as long as the shots are within the confines of relatively polite discussion, I can take it and give it out, and so must those who decide to participate in this blog.
Actually, the past couple of weeks have been really encouraging in terms of the quality of the discussion. I know there are those out there who get all worked up when their comments don' t get posted, but folks, nobody out there has a right to be heard. It's my blog, and while some accuse me of posting only those comments I agree with, a quick look at the past months will illustrate quite vividly that isn't true. What I'm looking for is comments that add to the discussion or advance the discussion. If your comment doesn't get the job done, don't expect to see it.
Now, just for a quite diversion from the sport of hockey. I received this question this week, and rather than have it buried in a hockey mail bag, I thought we'd do a quick one off.
Q: The past few years I have found myself watching and enjoying tennis after mostly ignoring the sport for over a decade. The Federer/Nadal matches have created some buzz but do you think there are some players on the so called bubble that could consistently reach the finals in the majors or are we stuck (maybe lucky) watching Federer and Nadal for the next while? Women's side seems to be more wide open but is there a few female player's we can expect to see a lot of (on the court, not the tabloids). And while the game appears to evolve quicker than the bags under my eyes, what do you like about the current game and what would you like to see change?
David Miles, Burlington
A: Well, David, glad to have you back. To be honest, I tuned out of the pro game for about a decade as well. Right now, I'd say the men's tour is as good as it's ever been, but the question you ask is a good one. Can anybody consistently challenge Federer and Nadal? At the moment, only Novak Djokovic seems to be close, and he has one Grand Slam title to Federer's 13 and Nadal's six. Andy Murray has flirted with moving into challenging territory, but he's not quite there yet, although he's the best player on the tour without a Grand Slam title at the moment. Andy Roddick's time is over. Ditto for James Blake and Marat Safin. There are some young players capable of winning a Grand Slam eventually such as Gael Monfils of France, Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina, Marin Cilic of Croatia and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France. The question of whether we're going to be watching Federer and Nadal contest most of the finals in the future right now seems to revolve mostly around Federer. Can he maintain the incredible pace of making finals, or will 2009 be the year he drops off. Certainly at the Aussie Open he was outstanding until the fifth set of the final, but the French Open is next and then he goes back to Wimbledon for the first time in a long time not as the defending champion.
How quickly could this two-man rivalry get boring? Not yet, but certainly more players in the mix makes it more interesting.
The women's tour, meanwhile, is a bit of a disaster at the moment. Too many stars have disappeared and those near the top haven't had tremendous Grand Slam success (Jelena Jankovic). In general, the level of competition has fallen off, and the dreadful Aussie Open final between Serena Williams and Dinara Safina was evidence of that.
For the most part, I love the modern game. We could always use more net play in singles, but there is a lot of variety and there are many contrasting styles on tour. To me, the way in which the men, in particular, hit the ball with such ferocity has turned modern tennis into almost a violent sport, and the athletes are so much stronger and more conditioned that the level of play is really something to watch. Some pine for the days of Laver and Rosewall when there was more finesse than power, but not me.
So I’m thinking the next time the phone rings in the Toronto Marlies dressing room, Justin Pogge will answer and say, “Nah, I’m fine where I am. But thanks for thinking of me, Mr. Burke!”
|Pogge gets peppered ... again.|
Man oh man, is this kid getting a rough introduction to the NHL. Lesson One, apparently, is never to count on anyone on your team having even the faintest idea how to defend. It’s like Pogge won a raffle, and first prize was a game in net for the Leafs.
Second prize? TWO games in net for the Leafs.
It was nice for the Leafs to let Thomas Vanek get a hat trick without even having to sweat, and yes indeed, that was a sweet move Drew Stafford made on Mike Van Ryn the night after the player for whom Van Ryn was acquired, Bryan McCabe, scored the OT winner for Florida against the Leafs.
Hey, NHL teams are going to look bad from time to time. But everybody knows the toughest game for any team is the home game after an extended road trip - as Buffalo was last night - yet the Leafs showed little interest in jumping on the Sabres and perhaps picking up a surprise two points. That was a pathetic effort.
So how much do we know about Pogge now that he has three NHL games under his belt? Just a little bit more than was known before. His size and obvious athleticism certainly make you believe he has a chance. There are times when he just seems a bit messy and out of control, as though he has no particular game plan but is reacting to every moment as though it were a brand new situation. If there’s progress, it’s minimal, but it’s still worth giving him more starts this season. Hey, the Leafs already know they’re going to have to get a goaltender next summer, and Pogge is going to be part of the picture somehow.
Between Pogge, Vesa Toskala and Curtis Joseph, Leaf goaltenders have the worst save percentage in the NHL, intriguing given that one of Cliff Fletcher’s moves during the off-season was to fire goaltending coach Steve McKichan and replace him with Corey Hirsch. McKichan had grown rather weary of being ignored anyway, but when you examine the performance of the Leafs and of their coaching staff, it’s hard on the basis of the evidence at hand to believe Hirsch was an upgrade. Certainly, Toskala has only gone backwards.
Just 30 games to go in this dreadful Leaf season. Now on to this week’s mail bag:
Q: Perhaps a bit premature but seeing that the Leafs are rebuilding it’s probably going to get worse before it’s going to get better. As a 43-year-old I have experienced some horrible years as a Toronto fan. It was so desperate that one of my heros in the early 80’s was Rocky Saganiuk ( I still have the jersey) Obviously there was not much to cheer for in those days.
So my question is since the Leafs made it deep in the playoffs in the mid ‘70s against the Islanders when Lanny McDonald scored in overtime, what year do you think the Leafs iced their worst team and why. I ask why because I don’t believe the least amount of points necessarily dictates their worst team.
Glen McMinn, Halifax
A: Well this is a different question. I’ve seen awful Leaf teams that quit and pretty good ones that played way below expectations. I’ve covered the team since 1989, so I’ll restrict myself to the squads of the past 20 years. I would say the Tom Watt-coached clubs of 1990-91 and 1991-92 were the worst I’ve seen, with the caveat that partway through the ‘91-92 campaign Doug Gilmour was acquired in that blockbuster deal with Calgary and changed the entire team. But for a season-and-a-half, the Leafs under Watt were horrible, a continuation of the decline that had started under Doug Carpenter after the optimism briefly generated by the team Carpenter guided into the ’90 playoffs. Watt replaced Carpenter in late October of the following season but couldn’t turn chicken, um, droppings into chicken salad. One of my favourite memories of Watt guiding the team training camp for the 1991-92 season, Fletcher’s first, was seeing Fletcher go down to ice level on the first day Newmarket and ask Watt, “Can’t you make them go faster?” Ah, the memories.
Q: Hey Damien!
What do you think of Cliff Fletcher's almost trades? The one with Philly, Jeff Carter for Kaberle, and the one with Anaheim, Bobby Ryan for our 1st round pick. The way both those players are playing right now it seems that the trades he didn't pull could have been amazing. They seem a whole lot better than the trades that he actually did!
George K. Toronto
A: The trades Fletcher made were unhelpful, to say the least. Maybe a second rounder for Mikhail Grabovski will pan out over time, although I think I’d still rather have that second rounder coming this June. I agree, had Fletcher been able to parlay Kaberle into Carter, that would have been a beauty. But was that the entire deal? See, there’s lots of rumours out there, but only the two clubs know what the give-and-take was on that possible transaction. Maybe the Flyers weren’t interested unless the Leafs tossed in something else. It’s convenient to let bits and pieces of trades that didn’t happen drop after the fact, but that can also misrepresent precisely what was on the table.
As far as Bobby Ryan, well, if that deal really was there, there was absolutely nothing stopping Fletcher from making it, was there? Kaberle had a no-trade, but if Anaheim had really been willing to move Ryan for Toronto’s first pick even if that pick was lottery protected, Fletcher could have pulled the trigger. That he didn’t tells me either the Ducks weren’t nearly as interested as some have made them out to be or that the trade involved other moving pieces that perhaps would have made it more costly for the Leafs. I think the only reasonable analysis of the work of any GM is to evaluate what he does, not what he would have liked to have done.
Q: Just wondering if you think Jiri Tlusty will ever develop into the top six forward he is touted as being or if he is just another bad move made by JFJ?
Patrick Savoury, Rose Blanche, Nfld.
Damien Cox, the Star's hockey columnist and associate sports editor, takes turns stirring up trouble and chuckling at the foibles of the sporting world. He'll start with hockey, Canada's ongoing passion play, and stick his nose into a few other games and places where athletes reside. You'll love some of his thoughts, hate others and get a chance to give your two cents on all of them.