Thursday, May 28, 2015
Authors Posts by Maple Leafs Hot Stove

Maple Leafs Hot Stove

Founded in 2008, Maple Leafs Hotstove (MLHS) has grown to be the most visited unofficial team-focused hockey website online (Quantcast). Independently owned and operated, MLHS provides thorough and wide ranging content, varying from news, opinion and analysis, to pre-game and long-form game reviews, a weekly feature piece, the "Leafs Notebook", along with a Web TV show the "Maple Leaf Hangout".

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BUFFALO, NY - NOVEMBER 15: Buffalo Sabres fans celebrate a second period goal as fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs react on November 15, 2014 at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

It looks like Nazem Kadri’s lesson on the sidelines is going to be a three-game affair. He won’t play tonight or Friday in Calgary.

This isn’t likely something the Leafs do if they’re in the middle of a playoff chase, but with a few of their veterans getting shut down for the season with injuries and the tank fully on, Leafs management seems to be taking the opportunity to teach Kadri a lesson for what Shanahan described as a pattern of unprofessional behaviour. And they’re choosing to do it very publicly, which screams “desperation measure” after the past few months of drama in Leafland.

Before this gets completely out of control in the media (too late), take note of this quote: “Naz is an important part of our future. We like Nazem Kadri. His teammates like him.”

Brendan Shanahan addresses Kadri scratch:

Peter Horachek gets a bit testy after barrage of Kadri questions:

Here are the projected lineups:

Buffalo Sabres Projected Lineup

Matt Moulson – Johan Larsson – Tyler Ennis
Marcus Foligno – Philip Varone – Brian Gionta
Nicolas Deslauriers – Zac Dalpe – Cody Hodgson
Jerry D’Amigo – Tim Schaller – Matt Ellis

Andre Benoit – Zach Bogosian
Nikita Zadorov – Andrej Meszaros
Mike Weber – Rasmus Ristolainen

Matt Hackett
Anders Lindback

Scratched: Tyson Strachan

Injured: Zemgus Girgensons (lower body), Evander Kane (shoulder surgery), Patrick Kaleta (lower body), Cody McCormick (blood clot), Josh Gorges (lower body), Chad Johnson (lower body)

Toronto Maple Leafs Projected Lineup

James van Riemsdyk – Peter Holland – Richard Panik
Joffrey Lupul – Tyler Bozak – Phil Kessel
Leo Komarov – Trevor Smith – David Booth
Joakim Lindstrom – Zach Sill – Brandon Kozun

Eric Brewer – Morgan Rielly
Dion Phaneuf – Jake Gardiner
Andrew MacWilliam – Tim Erixon

Jonathan Bernier
James Reimer

Scratched: Nazem Kadri

Injured: Stephane Robidas (shoulder), Roman Polak (hernia), Nathan Horton (concussion)

Status report: The Maple Leafs, who had only five healthy defensemen, recalled MacWilliam from the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League on an emergency basis. … Meszaros and Bogosian will be game-time decisions for the Sabres. Each participated in the morning skate.

Who’s hot: Booth has goals in three consecutive games. … Holland has points in four straight. … Moulson has four points in his past five games.

TORONTO, ON- SEPTEMBER 22 - Toronto Maple Leafs left wing James van Riemsdyk would get a goal tender interference penalty for running over Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller as Buffalo Sabres defenseman Chad Ruhwedel looks on in the third period as the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Buffalo Sabres 5-3 in preseason action at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, September 22, 2013. Steve Russell/Toronto Star

Next to zero chance the Leafs catch Arizona, Edmonton or Buffalo at this stage, but they fell back into fourth last with Carolina’s point against Columbus last night, which was conveniently 3-point game among the two teams closest to the Leafs in the standings.

Wednesday Links:

  • Anthony Petrielli: Leafs Notebook – March 10 (MLHS)
    Phaneuf is a lightning rod and that makes it tough to cut through the nonsense and see his real value. On a team like Detroit, they have a defense with Kronwall, Danny DeKeyser, Jonathon Ericsson, Kyle Quincey and now Marek Zidlicky (along with some decent young players); he would be going to go there and play a prime role on a perennial contender. To get some secondary pieces with zero futures would be an underwhelming return.
  • Jonas Siegel: Leafs finally tweak ‘stale’ top line (
    The break-up saw van Riemsdyk removed from the unit – paired with Peter Holland and Richard Panik instead – and replaced on the left side by Joffrey Lupul. The jolt seemed to work for van Riemsdyk, who scored for the first time in a five-on-five situation since Jan. 28 – a string of 18 games.
  • Kevin McGran: Morgan Rielly seeks silver linings with Maple Leafs (Toronto Star)
    He hints maybe he was too quiet as the team went off the rails. He was a young guy, after all, and playing limited minutes with limited success through last December and early January when things started to go downhill. He let the veterans in the room do the talking.
  • Charlotte’s Webster: Does Phil Kessel fade down the stretch? (Pension Plan Puppets)
    Based on the evidence shown here, there is no solid basis to the narrative that Kessel consistently underperforms (from an offensive perspective) in the later stages of the NHL season, relative to his ‘regular’ level of play. While his ICF/G was significantly lower in the last 40% of the games he played in both 2009/2010 and 2010/2011, that trend does not hold in the two most recent seasons I studied. Based on his point rate, we may even conclude the opposite, if anything. Kessel may not rise above and beyond his normal level of play as the season winds to an end, but it seems clear that from an offensive perspective, he doesn’t falter either.
  • Rob Longley: Fewer fans watching Maple Leafs on TV (Toronto Sun)
    The most recent debacle in a season full of them — a 6-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Saturday — attracted an average audience of just 743,000 on CBC’s Hockey Night In Canada.
  • Lance Hornby: Maple Leafs defence prospects likely to stay with Marlies for playoff run (Toronto Sun)
    But the farmboys are in the thick of the American Hockey League playoff race and management is reluctant to start pulling them out for what looks like a dead-end assignment with the Leafs. Any kind of post-season exposure, even if they ultimately come up short in the race next month, is considered valuable. So expect defencemen such as Stu Percy, Viktor Loov and Andrew MacWilliam to stay put for now.

Maple Leafs defenceman Dion Phaneuf, left, checks Islanders forward John Tavares in Toronto on Tuesday, January 7, 2014. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)

The Maple Leafs are icing a definitively tank-friendly lineup tonight in a meeting with the second-place team in the East, the New York Islanders.

Lineup Notes:

  • Nazem Kadri is scratched as a disciplinary measure after sleeping in and missing a team meeting yesterday.
  • Roman Polak has been shut down for the rest of the season to undergo a hernia procedure.
  • Stephane Robidas has been shut down for the rest of the season to undergo shoulder surgery.

Kadri addresses media:

Here is what is left of the Leafs lineup:

Maple Leafs Projected Lines

James van Riemsdyk – Tyler Bozak – Phil Kessel
Leo Komarov – Peter Holland – Richard Panik
Joffrey Lupul – Trevor Smith – David Booth
Brandon Kozun – Zach Sill – Joakim Lindstrom

Dion Phaneuf – Jake Gardiner
Eric Brewer – Tim Erixon
Morgan Rielly – Petter Granberg

Jonathan Bernier
James Reimer

Scratched: Nazem Kadri
Injured: Stephane Robidas (shoulder), Roman Polak (hernia)

Peter Horachek Game Day Presser:

Photo: NHLI via Getty Images

It seems to be theme of the 2014-15 Maple Leafs season — just when you think we’re at rock bottom, it finds a way to get worse.

Sunday Links:

  • Jonas Siegel: Interim Leafs coach wading through rough term (
    “There was no effort,” he said painfully afterward. “You never want your team to come into a game without the highest possible effort and approach to the game. There are no real excuses for it so I’m not going to make any. That’s unacceptable for me. I’m not happy about it.”
  • Chris Johnston: Maple Leafs’ loss met with apathy, acceptance (
    What might have been most notable about the proceedings was how little booing there actually was. A mixture of apathy and acceptance has sunk in here — undeniably for those in the stands and arguably for those in the dressing room.
  • Mike Johnston: Dubas – Brennan could get a shot with Leafs (
    “There’s a decent chance we’ll give him a look before the year is out,” Leafs assistant general manager Kyle Dubas told Sportsnet 590 The Fan Saturday.
  • Tyler Brooke: Dion Phaneuf Levels Blues’ T.J. Oshie with Devastating Hit (BR)
    Lone highlight of the Leafs’ night.

Photo: NHLI via Getty Images

St. Louis Blues Projected Lines

Alexander Steen – David Backes – T.J. Oshie
Jaden Schwartz – Jori Lehtera – Vladimir Tarasenko
Dmitrij Jaskin – Paul Stastny – Patrik Berglund
Steve Ott – Olli Jokinen – Ryan Reaves

Carl Gunnarsson – Alex Pietrangelo
Petteri Lindbohm – Jay Bouwmeester
Barret Jackman – Robert Bortuzzo

Brian Elliott
Jake Allen

Scratched: Chris Butler, Chris Porter, Marcel Goc
Injured: Kevin Shattenkirk (abdomen), Zbynek Michalek (upper body)

Toronto Maple Leafs Projected Lines

James van Riemsdyk – Tyler Bozak – Phil Kessel
Joffrey Lupul – Nazem Kadri – Richard Panik
Leo Komarov – Peter Holland – David Booth
Zach Sill – Trevor Smith – Joakim Lindstrom

Dion Phaneuf – Jake Gardiner
Morgan Rielly – Roman Polak
Eric Brewer – Stephane Robidas

Jonathan Bernier
James Reimer

Scratched: Tim Erixon, Brandon Kozun
Injured: None

Status report: Horachek said Erixon, who missed Toronto’s March 5 game against the Tampa Bay Lightning because of illness, is available for Saturday. … With Jokinen making his debut for the Blues, Goc is expected to be a healthy scratch. (

Who’s hot: Panik and Booth each have points (one goal, one assist) in back-to-back games. … Jaskin has two goals in the past three games. (

TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 29: Ryan Callahan #24 of the Tampa Bay Lightning races against Dion Phaneuf #3 of the Toronto Maple Leafs during the third period at the Amalie Arena on December 29, 2014 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)

Toronto Maple Leafs Projected Lines

James van Riemsdyk – Tyler Bozak – Phil Kessel
Joffrey Lupul – Nazem Kadri – Richard Panik
Leo Komarov – Peter Holland – David Booth
Zach Sill – Joakim Lindstrom – Brandon Kozun

Dion Phaneuf – Roman Polak
Eric Brewer – Morgan Rielly
Jake Gardiner – Stephane Robidas

Jonathan Bernier
James Reimer

Scratched:?Tim Erixon
Injured:?Trevor Smith (lower body)

Tampa Bay Lightning Projected Lines

Alex Killorn – Steven Stamkos – Ryan Callahan
Ondrej Palat – Tyler Johnson – Nikita Kucherov
Cedric Paquette – Valtteri Filppula – Jonathan Drouin
Brenden Morrow – Brian Boyle – Vladislav Namestnikov

Anton Stralman – Victor Hedman
Braydon Coburn – Jason Garrison
Andrej Sustr – Nikita Nesterov

Ben Bishop
Andrei Vasilevskiy

Scratched: Mark Barberio
Injured: Matthew Carle (abdominal surgery), J.T. Brown (upper body)

Status update: It appears Bishop will start Thursday after Vasilevskiy shut out the Sabres. … Namestnikov was called up from the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League to replace Brown in the lineup. (

Who’s hot: Stamkos has scored four goals in the past three games. … Holland had the game-winning goal for the Maple Leafs in a 3-2 win against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday. (

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SP-LOCKERS11APR Toronto Maple Leaf coach Ron Wilson talks to media on the last day of their season. April 11, 2011 TANNIS TOOHEY/TORONTO STAR

Former Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Ron Wilson talks to Dean Blundell & Co. to discuss his current sentiments regarding the NHL club, sympathizing with what Randy Carlyle has gone through, and on the amount of blame directed at captain Dion Phaneuf for the club’s poor performance.

Dion Phaneuf Panthers
SUNRISE, FL - APRIL 10: Dion Phaneuf #3 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates in on goal with the puck against goaltender Roberto Luongo #1 of the Florida Panthers at the BB&T Center on April 10, 2014 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

The deadline past yesterday, but somehow the distractions seem just as bad if not worse today, with Phil Kessel and Kyle Dubas speaking out against media treatment of Dion Phaneuf, followed by the statement launched by Lupul and Phaneuf against the broadcast station that is a property of the corporation that part-owns the team. Never a dull moment in Leafland.

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The brutal incident with the unscreened tweet on TSN yesterday (we ask that you don’t discuss the contents of it in the comments) may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back as far as the Leafs and their media relations this season are concerned.

Honest technical mistake or egregious error in judgment by a TSN staffer, it seems to have been the boiling point.

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Dave Nonis got his work done early, opting to do next to nothing on deadline day. Outside of cashing in his pending-UFA trade chips, the Clarkson deal is the big bang of the deadline season, as the core remains untouched for now.

The net result of the past few weeks:

NSH 1st round pick (2015)Cody Franson
PITT 2nd round pick (2016)Mike Santorelli
PITT 4th round pick (2015)David Clarkson
ANA 5th round draft pick (2016)Daniel Winnik
STL cond. 6th round pick (2016)Spencer Abbott
Brendan LeipsicKorbinian Holzer
Nathan Horton
Zach Sill
TJ Brennan
Tim Erixon
Joakim Lindstrom
Eric Brewer

Media address expected shortly.

Dave Nonis Post-Deadline Media Address

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TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 21: James van Riemsdyk #21 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates his overtime game winning goal with teammates during NHL game action against the Winnipeg Jets February 21, 2015 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Leafs have found a place to offload pending UFA Olli Jokinen, sending him to St. Louis for a conditional sixth round draft choice.

The pick they grab here essentially factors back into the original Mike Santorelli and Cody Franson deal, making the return Brendan Leipsic, a 1st round pick and a sixth round draft pick fetched in this trade. Any asset gained here at all is gravy.

Joakim Lindstrom is a 31-year-old depth center with 6 points in 34 games. He’s an expiring contract takeback to make the dollars line up.

So ends the storied Olli Jokinen era in Toronto.

Jokinen clearly didn’t want to be here, and he couldn’t even be bother to stay off the bench for warm up before a game between the Leafs and Habs in Montreal, so good riddance. He’ll make only his second playoff appearance in an 18-year career this Spring.

NSH 1st round pick (2015)Cody Franson
PITT 2nd round pick (2016)Mike Santorelli
PITT 4th round pick (2015)David Clarkson
ANA 5th round draft pick (2016)Daniel Winnik
STL cond. 6th round pick (2016)Spencer Abbott
Brendan LeipsicKorbinian Holzer
Nathan Horton
Zach Sill
TJ Brennan
Tim Erixon
Joakim Lindstrom
Eric Brewer

WINNIPEG, CANADA - DECEMBER 3: Head Coach Dallas Eakins of the Edmonton Oilers discusses strategy with players at the bench during a third period timeout against the Winnipeg Jets on December 3, 2014 at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The Jets defeated the Oilers 3-2 in overtime. (Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)

Former Marlies head coach Dallas Eakins joined Bob Mackowycz on TSN Radio, touching on the Leafs rebuild, the market’s treatment of Phaneuf, and the futures of Rielly, Gardiner and Kadri.

Have we lost sight of how good Phaneuf could be?
I think it happens. It’s an easy thing to happen. When you get into a negative environment and there’s lots of losses, it’s very easy to pile on individuals. I’ve really kept an eye on Toronto since I’ve been gone. It’s an organization close to my heart because I was here for so long. I think a lot of the criticism of Dion and some of the others is unwarranted. The guy came into a situation where there was no captain and very little leadership. He was thrust into a role. I think he’s done the absolute best he can do there.

Advice to Brendan Shanahan, Leafs management? The fans in terms of managing expectations?
I’m not going to give any advice to Brendan [Shanahan] or Dave Nonis. Dave Nonis has a tonne of experience in the league and he’s an excellent manager. They’re going to find their way through this the best way possible. I’d just say to the fans that it’s been a difficult bunch of years. The team is in a difficult spot. If it’s going to be a rebuild, then you have to get behind it. I’m not sure what your options are. I think it’s always important to understand where your team is today. I know it’s been a very long run without a Stanley Cup. It’s something that pains me as a long time Maple Leaf fan growing up in Peterborough, Ontario. You have to understand where your team is today, get over what’s happened in the past and start looking forward. I’m very hopeful for the Leafs that they can get a plan in place and get the team to where it needs to be.

Among the young players you’ve coached and watch grow up in the Leaf organization, who is the last guy the Leafs should part with?
It’s a tough one to answer. My answer would be viewed a number of different ways – if you picked one guy, why didn’t you pick the other? The one thing I have learned is that if you say something positive about one person it means you’re saying something negative about the other. I got to watch Morgan Rielly play a game, I was just in Toronto recently — he played just an excellent game and his game continues to evolve. I still think Naz and Jake are still growing as players. Both guys, they’re very different players; I know Naz is an extremely competitive guy, and a guy I really enjoyed coaching because he’s a gamer. He’s a gamer. He’s always in a verbal war with the other team. A guy who will go out of his way to take a shot at a guy if our team isn’t doing well. That’s what you want on your teams –highly competitive people who aren’t going to fold the tent up. With Jake, Toronto is a very tough place for a defenceman to get his feet underneath him. I think he came in with a lot of fan fare. What happens there – when fans are fed a lot of grandeur, you expect huge things. I think Jake came in there with a lot of grandeur., and he is just now settling in and figuring out what kind of defenceman he’ll be. [He’s] A guy who is competitive in a different way than Naz is, but a guy that has got a skillset and a mindset you can’t ignore. It takes time with these defenceman — it will take until 4 or 5 years sometimes to get a really good read on a defenceman. Unfortunately, there’s really no other way around that.

TORONTO, ON- OCTOBER 7 - Toronto Maple Leafs President Brendan Shanahan during a sit down interview in his office at the Mastercard Centre. (Photo: Tara Walton/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

The heat has been turned up on this deadline. The Rangers have thrown down the gauntlet in the East with a big add in Keith Yandle, while Tampa responded late last night with a blueline addition of their own in Braydon Coburn, both paying handsomely for their purchases. Trades in the last 24 hours:

  • Tampa Bay trades Radko Gudas, 1st and 3rd round picks to the Philadelphia Flyers for Braydon Coburn.
  • Boston acquires Brett Connolly for two 2nd round picks.
  • Dallas Stars trade Erik Cole and a 3rd round pick to the Detroit Red Wings for Mattias Backman, Mattas Janmark, and a 2nd round pick.
  • New York Rangers acquire James Sheppard from San Jose for a 4th round draft choice.
  • Rangers acquire Keith Yandle, Chris Summers and a 4th in exchange for Anthony Duclair, John Moore, 1st and 2nd round picks.
  • Washington Capitals acquire Curtis Glencross in exchange for 2nd and 3rd round draft choices.

Late 1sts and 2nd round picks are flying around the League right now. Buyers are letting loose with the picks and the Leafs have to get in on some of this before the day is through.


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Pete Deboer on TSN Drive:

View on Clarkson and the trade:
Clarkson is a great kid. Actually, at the time, I really thought he as going to help the Leafs. It was case of Murphy’s Law; everything that could go wrong did go wrong… big contract, huge expectations, people throwing out Clarkson like Wendel Clark in that vein. He tried to do everything right; look at that 10-game suspension, that’s exactly what every coach wants his team to do, stick up for their best players, and he ends up with 10-game suspension to start the season. Trying to do the right thing, do what the coaches want him to do. Everything he tried to do went the wrong way on him. Unfortunately, Toronto is an unforgiving city, there’s nowhere to hide. It’s a shame because I think he is a real serviceable NHL player and I’m sure he’s going to help Columbus.

In New Jersey, was it the NJ system that was responsible for his success there or was it Clarkson?
I think Clarkson is responsible for Clarkson. During his time in New Jersey, he was coached by Brent Sutter, Jacques Lemaire, by John McLean, by Pete Deboer. He scored 30 goals for Pete Deboer, but he also had 20 goals and 100 PIMs for Brent Sutter. All four of those coaches ran different versions of systems. I don’t think it’s that simple. I think this is something where he got behind early in an unforgiving city and could not get on the right side of it even though he tried to do the right things. There are a lot of cities where, if you hop of the bench to defend your best player, you are anointed a hero. They called him an idiot. It didn’t make sense to me. Unfortunately, he couldn’t dig himself out of the holes he put himself in.

On the pressure and attention of playing in Toronto:
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming the media. I think what happens is the same that happens with coaches and the same that happens with fans. You love certain players at 2 million; at 5 million you hate them. I know for a fact there was more than one or two other teams willing to give him that money or more. You’re carrying that around with you. If you’re not putting up 30 immediately and you’re not doing what everyone expects you do at five million-plus, it goes the wrong way on you. Not his fault he got that money, there was multiple offers for that or more. It’s the burden that came with it that really hurt him there.

If the first year was a write off, how do you explain what happened in the second year?
That’s a fair point. I think he probably dragged the first year into the second year. I thought he was better this year, he had 10 goals this year I believe. When I think of David Clarkson I think of 20 goals and 100 penalty minutes. He was always a big game player, when I had him in junior; he would score OT goals, I had him in the Mem Cup final, had him in the playoffs, had him score some big goals for us in the Stanley Cup playoffs. He rises to the occasion if he can get into those situations. I don’t have an excuse this year for why he wasn’t as good as he should’ve been. I thought he would be better, but there’s no doubt he was dragging things that happened last year into this year.

On Clarkson as a cautionary tale about FA:
Sure. I think we all know the red flags of free agency. I think every organization, every GM, every coach, if they had their choice, wouldn’t jump both feet into the deep end knowing the stories out there. At the same time, you don’t have much choice, either. Unless you’re taking the kids in the top five in the draft, you’re waiting 2-3-4-5-6 years on the kids. It’s the only way to make yourself immediately better. I think it’s a cautionary tale, but maybe it’s a cautionary tale that Clarkson was only there 15 months. I think he would’ve been a better player… That’s really early in a seven-year deal to be moving on from a guy. But I also understand that sometimes you have to make those tough decisions.


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Bob McKenzie

Bob McKenzie on TSN Drive:

On trading Horton for Clarkson and not Semin or Richards:
I couldn’t honestly tell you that I know for a fact there was conversation between [those teams]. What I can suggest that is, of those three you mentioned – Clarkson, Semin, Richards – Semin wasn’t a fit in the eyes of Columbus. They were not looking for a high-end, underachieving goal-scoring winger. I don’t think they were eager to bring in another center in Richards. I think Clarkson fit the profile of what they were looking for: A guy to go up and down the wing and chip in some goals. Expectation is not to fulfill the $5.25 million so much. Columbus is a hard-working, physical, in-your-face hockey team. As they look at those other options, Clarkson fit the profile better than anything else. They weren’t going to try to swing for the fences on a 40-goal year from Semin. They didn’t want to try to reprise Richards‘ role… A guy like Clarkson will look at Columbus as his salvation, whether he’s playing on the first line or third line, and they’re talking about putting him in either one of those spots.

On no insurance on Horton:
I’m not sure how many [contracts in the League] are uninsured, but I do know that there are exclusions on players who have had multiple concussions. You can’t get insurance on a concussion for some players. If someone has had their knee blown out three or four times, there might be exclusion on insurance on a knee. As for the details on the Columbus not insuring the contract, Jarmo and John Davidson would have the ultimate answer and can correct me if I’m wrong; my understanding is that, when they made the decision to sign Horton to that contract, he was coming off shoulder surgery. Knowing he was only going to play half a season, whether the insurance was too expensive, whether they just decided not to insure it, I think their intention was that, at the end of that first year, they were going to get insurance at that point. When he developed the back injury they weren’t in a position to get him insurance. As a result, he became an uninsurable contact.

McKenzie on this deal as “legal” cap circumvention and the NHL’s view:
In this particular instance, obviously the League didn’t have a problem with it because they approved it. The League didn’t like backsliding contracts, which were technically legal in old CBA, and put in punitive measures that made them retroactively illegal. I don’t know that they view the Horton situation exactly the same. I don’t think Horton will play and most people don’t, but is it 100% clear cut he won’t play again? I don’t think you can necessarily say that. As long as there is a chance he could play, then certainly Columbus and Toronto are in their rights to do that. How did other NHL GMs respond? Most get it, but I know for a fact that some don’t like it, and some probably voiced displeasure to the League. That displeasure is not going to result in anything tangible in the short term.

Other interest in Clarkson:
The Ottawa Senators were amongst a number of teams that had talk to the Leafs about a Clarkson trade. Now, the type of deal that those teams were looking for was basically to put the Leafs over a barrel. You have no options, therefore we’re going to give you, for example, Colin Greening, who has a couple years left at a little above $2 million, and you’re going to give us Clarkson and eat 50% of his salary the rest of the way. The Leafs were in position where they had to consider that, but I guess they had the Columbus option, serendipitously, the uninsured Horton contract, and didn’t have to do [other option]. There were teams out there who to think Clarkson is a viable NHL player. “3 years, $2.5 million a year? Bring him in, we’ve got no problem with that.” It’s the $5.25 million and the fact that he went off the rails so bad that magnified the situation. David Clarkson is not a useless hockey player. He is a player who has gone down the wrong road in Toronto and has to rediscover his game. I’d think there’s a chance he does that in Columbus. I hope it does because he’s a hell of a good guy, and nobody deserves what he goes through. I’m not absolving him for not getting the job done; he didn’t play well enough, case closed. Some of that is on the Leafs, but most of that falls on Clarkson. He’s got to work hard to try to rehabilitate his game. He won’t have to live up to the contract to the same extent. It won’t be perceived the same way now that he’s crashed on the rocks. Anything that you get from him here on in is a bonus compared to the nothing they were getting from Horton.

Is there a chill on playing for the Leafs based on Clarkson?
I think it always takes a special player. I always say there are two types of players: Those who have the ability and wherewithal to play in a Canadian market, and those who don’t. I don’t know the Clarkson situation would scare them off as much of the fact that Leafs haven’t been a good team for a long time and may not be for a very long time. I’m not sure the Leafs right now even have to worry about free agency. If they’re going down this rebuilding route with drafts and prospects, they should just close up shop on that font; close up the wallets, sit on their hands, and take up the course of action they say they’re going to take.

Columbus Dispatch beat writer Aaron Portzline:

On the insurance situation:
There was a pre-existing condition with the shoulder and they knew it was profound enough to miss half the season. It was a bit of a gamble, but you could get away with not insuring him that season. The half season was already gone with the shoulder. The risk is, you have to get in before the next year and insure him. When they went in to insure him for the next year, his back had degenerated to the point where they were stuck and it was impossible to insure him. I’ve talked to other teams around the League who say there are teams who have taken the risk but that it’s inexcusable. It’s like buying a Ferrari and saying nothing is going to happen to it because I’m parking it in the garage.

On which side initiated the idea:
I think we can rule out mutual origination. From the Columbus side, they’re claiming it is theirs. The insurance mess up is a 17-and-a-half million-dollar hit. That’s huge for any team, especially for a small market team. The thinking was maybe you can turn that contract into cap room. Who desperately needs cap room and who is willing to do something crazy to get cap room?

Columbus has a hole in the right side of their lineup and [Clarkson] was on their list in 2013 and if they didn’t get Horton they would’ve barked up that tree. Once they gave it a whirl, it came together really quickly, more quickly than most people would think for a deal with this many layers and this much texture.