Ed. Note: Lots of holiday reading going up today for you guys. Merry Christmas.
Here we are the Christmas break, and Iâ€™d like to take the time to look back at what we saw in September, what we expected by Christmas and what we envision for the future of the Blue and White.
After enjoying his much-deserved holiday, Cliff Fletcher will sit down with Brian Burke in early January to structure his new role within the organization as per the man himself. It is expected he'll assume a role in the senior adviser capacity.
Random thoughts, 23 games in:
Matt Stajan is the leading scorer on the Leafs. Let me repeat that: Matt Stajan is the leading scorer on the Leafs, and is on pace for close to 70 points this season. One of the great unheralded results of a rebuilding project is the chance to see former role players excel in new roles, and Stajan has certainly proved that he is more than simply an effective checker and penalty-killer.
Brian Burke's exact intentions with the Toronto Maple Leafs will be the source of much speculation likely until after the Christmas season, but there may just be one tweak made in shorter order: locating a genuine heavyweight pugilist as a bottom six "hardhat" in his roster.
Today was the long-awaited day when Brian Burke was finally introduced to the Toronto media and fanbase. Highlighted below are several important quotes that stuck out to me as I listened to Burke outline his plans for building a championship calibre team here in the capital of the Hockey Universe: [more…]
In case you missed it:
"The Toronto Maple Leafs aren't waiting for Brian Burke to come in and start making moves, as the club traded defenceman Carlo Colaiacovo and forward Alex Steen to the St. Louis Blues for forward Lee Stempniak on Monday."
Lee Stempniak appears to be another high-cost, low-profile acquisition for Trader Cliff, who has developed a penchant for paying whatever-it-takes to land players that he feels are underrated and on the brink of a breakout.
With the Leafs blowing 3-0 and 4-2 leads, eventually leading to a 5-4 overtime loss, we have now hit what can pretty muchÂ be considered the quarter pole of the '08-'09 season.
Months of uncertainty and speculation are likely to come to an end in the next week when Brian Burke and his associates meet with Richard Peddie and the MLSE. The groups have already spoken albeit lawyer to lawyer last weekend to confirm the Anaheim Ducks had signed papers allowing their former GM to talk with other teams and if reports are to be believed, groundwork was laid on the forthcoming negotiations.
Ed. Note: Richard-Steven Williams, a UK-based NHL and European hockey enthusiast, will be joining the MLHS blogging team.
It's fantastic to have Richard aboard, he's an immense talent.
Here's his piece on Ron Wilson from a week ago.
From a source:
"I'm hearing Leafs will try to sign him immediately upon his release and Burke will be very reasonable in terms of money/term/bonuses to get the job-he really wants it. There is still some issue as to how long the Ducks will expect to keep him on which is clouding the timing somewhat. Leafs really like what Fletch has done and would happily let him finish out the year, but without a guarantee that Holland et al will be available or interested they have no choice but to get this done now. [more…]
Twelve games into the NHL season and the Leafs have garnered a 5-4-3 record. Considering NHL critics predicted the Maple Leafs to get humiliated this season, they are one of the biggest surprises so far.