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From USA Today - 3/1/2007:

Anaheim Ducks general manager Brian Burke has always been among the NHL’s most colorful wheeler dealers. In 2005-06, he overhauled his team midseason and made a strong playoff run. Last summer, he made a major swap to land franchise defenseman Chris Pronger. Heading into Tuesday’s trade deadline, Burke hoped to make a major splash. He was able to make one deal, but he was unable to land one of the premium forwards. This is his diary of his efforts to make the major deadline deal:

Wednesday, Feb. 7

We’re interested in Peter Forsberg, but when Philadelphia general manager Paul Holmgren calls I tell him we aren’t trading (first-round pick) Bobby Ryan. We go through a package and I reject several names, including Corey Perry. I say, “No.” Homer and I are fishing buddies, and he jokingly says he wants to help us win the Stanley Cup by trading me Forsberg. I say, “We’re out,” and Homer says he wants me to stay in.

Thursday, Feb. 8

Homer and I talk again on Forsberg and this time he talks about Perry again. He tells me that he has a better offer on the table than Perry and a high pick. I say Perry isn’t going anywhere. We discuss multiple names to go with the high pick and they ask for specific players (Perry, Ilya Bryzgalov, Chris Kunitz). I like Homer and want him to succeed, but I’m thinking we would be better off looking at Todd Bertuzzi and the possibility of landing another defenseman. But (Florida GM/coach) Jacques Martin isn’t shopping Bertuzzi yet. We are looking at defensemen around the league who could end up being available —Brent Sopel, Brad Stuart and Sami Salo. But I think Vancouver is trying to re-sign Salo.

Friday, Feb. 9

I speak to Los Angeles about Sopel. Trying to trade is like playing musical chairs. You are always afraid you aren’t going to have a chair at the end. You worry that if you say no on one deal, you may not get any. Also, there is a “keeping up with the Joneses mentality,” particularly in the Western Conference. Players, coaches and fans want you to add. The allure of making the right trade draws you in. Remember last season when Edmonton was on the verge of missing the playoffs, made some deals, including getting goalie Dwayne Roloson, and they go to the Finals. It’s the most pressure you face all year, and it’s also the most fun you have.

Saturday, Feb. 10

Phoenix offered me Ladislav Nagy for a first-round pick. I call Doug MacLean about the possibility of acquiring Fredrik Modin. He says he’s trying to re-sign him. One of my problems in trying to make a deal is that I don’t have a first-round pick. I’m thinking I could move defenseman Shane O’Brien to get a first-round pick.

Sunday, Feb. 11

I think Tampa Bay’s (GM) Jay Feaster is interested in O’Brien. Homer calls and tells me that two teams are offering two first-round picks and a player for Forsberg, and another team is offering a first, second and another pick. To me, this is too rich for our blood. I think it’s too high of a price for a rental player.

Tuesday, Feb. 13

Feaster tells me he is interested only in hockey deals, not rentals. I have a long talk with St. Louis Blues President John Davidson about Keith Tkachuk. They want Bobby Ryan in a package.

Wednesday, Feb. 14

Officially turn down the Blues. Vancouver GM Dave Non-is, my former assistant, tells me he is going to re-sign Salo. New York Rangers GM Glen Sather tells me he’s not a seller, at least not yet.

Thursday, Feb. 15

Forsberg goes to Nashville. Homer was frustrated with me. He said I didn’t know the marketplace. But I have to give him a lot of credit. He really helped the Flyers with that deal. Tampa Bay offers goalie Gerald Coleman and a second for O’Brien. We want a first- round pick.

Saturday, Feb. 17

I talk to Florida assistant GM Randy Sexton about Todd Bertuzzi, and he tells me “the guy we like is Perry.” I offer him profanity. If you are offended by profanity, it’s difficult to make a trade in the NHL. If you are going to try to rob me, at least wear a mask. We talk to Philadelphia about Kyle Calder.

Monday, Feb. 19

At the general managers meetings in Naples, Fla., Feaster sweetened his offer to a first-round pick and Coleman and he wants a third to go with O’Brien. I call Sather to see if he can better that offer for O’Brien.

Tuesday, Feb. 20

Sather talks to me about O’Brien, and Pleau asks if I want to revisit the Tkachuk deal and make it bigger. We decide it’s not going to work, but we are interested in Bill Guerin. Sather tells me he’s got a good offer for Aaron Ward from another team.

Wednesday, Feb. 21

I call Montreal’s (GM) Bob Gainey and push him about whether he’s going to move any of his defensemen. Gainey says he’s unsure if he’s selling. Timing is beginning to be a problem. I decide to push on this, but I don’t get anywhere.

Sunday, Feb. 25

Tkachuk is finally traded to Atlanta for Glen Metropolit and first-, second- and third-round picks, plus another first-rounder if the Thrashers re-sign him. Davidson and GM Larry Pleau hit it out of the park on that one. We decide to trade O’Brien to Tampa Bay. We need the first-round pick to get into the card game. We felt comfortable making the deal because of the way Kent Huskins had played when he was called up. Oilers GM Kevin Lowe thinks he could have trouble re-signing Ryan Smyth. Would I be interested? He said he would want a “Tkachuk style package.” I say we can’t do it. Craig Rivet is traded to San Jose by Montreal, and I call and whine to Gainey about not calling me back and telling me he was available. He tells me that I was late to that party, and he had been talking to Doug Wilson for three weeks. Fair enough.

Monday, Feb. 26

Modin re-signs. While at a game in San Jose, I initiate a deal for Brad May via e-mail. I know him well and like his toughness.

Tuesday, Feb. 27

We were in on several trades. We offered a first and a fourth for Bill Guerin, but the Blues liked the Sharks’ deal better. (Los Angeles GM) Dean Lombardi talked to me about how Mattias Norstrom wanted to stay in southern California and I offered him a first-, second- and third-round pick, but I now believe he never intended to trade him to us. The Anaheim-Los Angeles rivalry is real. We looked at Bertuzzi, but the price was too high. I wanted to make a deal, but I stuck to draft picks. I told our younger players that I wouldn’t trade them and I kept my word. But I did get May. He’s a great character guy with a sunny disposition.

    704

    Final Deadline Trades:

    Alexei Ponikarovsky to Pittsburgh for Luca Caputi and Martin Skoula
    Martin Skoula to New Jersey for a fifth round draft selection.
    Lee Stempniak to PHX for 4th and 7th rounders.
    Joey MacDonald to ANA for a 7th rounder in 2011.

    Wrap-Up: That looks to be a wrap on Brian Burke’s trade activity for the 2009-10 season. The Stempniak deal was obviously a form of loss-cutting on a pending UFA, but it’s a bit painful to remember who we sacrificed to acquire him in November of 2008 in two albeit underachieving first rounders in Alex Steen and Carlo Colaiacovo. The Leafs will not draft until the third round this year, and Burke did not succeed in that sense, however he moved the only piece realistically capable of fetching a second rounder for a semi-established young asset with the potential to replace Poni at an immediately cheaper price in Luca Caputi. It looks as though no takers could be found on either Wayne Primeau or Garnet Exelby, who look sure to now enter the FA market July 1.

    There seems to be details yet to unfurl surrounding the Tomas Kaberle situation this deadline, as once again Leafs fans were teased into believing a deal was pending (involving Hodgson, as it was reported, or possibly Alzner from Washington) only for what looked to be an imminent deal to be flatly denied by Brian Burke in the end. There are rumblings that Kaberle might have nixed a deal in similar fashion to the Jeff Carter situation at the ’08 deadline.

    From Garrett Bauman:

      143

      Although the Maple Leafs did not dip into the trade waters just yet, there were a couple events of importance that may determine how the next two days will shake out:

      - Alexei Ponikarovsky left practice with a knee injury but did later return to finish it, albeit gingerly. Nearing its conclusion, he did head into the locker room accompanied by the team’s trainers, but it appears as if he was walking under his own power. Needless to say, any potential injury scares may affect the number of bidding for the Ukranian winger, particularly if teams are unable to get one last look at him on Tuesday night.

      - The Penguins swung a trade for some veteran help on the blueline, sending a 2010 2nd round pick to the Panthers for Jordan Leopold. Later on during the day, the Predators sent their 2010 2nd round pick to the Oilers for Grebeshkov. This certainly puts an interesting twist on things if you believe the rumors and speculation. The Leafs were apparently offered a 2nd round pick and prospect for Ponikarovsky a few weeks ago, but now two of the most prominent teams mentioned in rumors (Pittsburgh this year and Nashville at last year’s deadline) have dealt that selection away.

      With Wilson, Burke and Kessel all taking the day to fly back from Vancouver, we might expect to finally see some action on Tuesday.

        517

        With the Olympics wrapping up (and in the process Canada securing the record for most gold medals, capped off by our Men’s and Women’s hockey teams), the focus among hockey fans now shifts to the NHL trade deadline.

        While there are few untouchables on the Maple Leafs’ roster, speculation is that only a handful of players are likely to be dealt between Monday and Wednesday. Here’s a look at some of the speculation surrounding the most-talked about candidates to swap jerseys.

          71

          For the second time in four days the Maple Leafs will face off against the New Jersey Devils, this time at the ACC. In what seems to be the most nonsensical decision made in recent memory by NHL schedulers, come this Friday the Leafs and Devils will have faced off three times in one calendar week. What’s up with that?

          As you are all undoubtedly aware, the Leafs have a few new faces in the fold, and we are all eager to see what Phaneuf, Sjostrom, and Giguere bring to the table as members of the blue and white.

          Note: I won’t get into trade analysis here; that has already been covered in excellent fashion by the MLHS crew in prior posts.

            652

            Let’s be honest, how many of you had either fallen asleep or changed the channel when your Leafs tied it up tonight?  In a comeback devoid of any explosiveness, Toronto teased you with the possibility of an overtime victory.  Hah! Should have known better, eh?

              220

              - The Toronto Sun has an interesting article up, talking about the future of several Maple Leaf players leading up to this year’s trade deadline. During an informal survey of hockey executives and general managers attending the CHL Top Prospects game, the consensus was that aside from Tomas Kaberle, Ponikarovsky would be the player who would garner the greatest return. It was speculated that he would perhaps net a late 2nd round pick, being comparable to but not as refined as Nik Antropov (who yielded the Rangers’ 50th overall selection last year).

              - The article follows up by noting that players such as Stajan and Stempniak might get “a sniff”, but not to expect a significant return. However, it appears Burke has not been particularly aggressive in dangling any of his players at the present time.

              - In another note, according to the Russian website infox.ru via the Toronto Sun, it appears as if winger Nikolai Kulemin will be named to the Russian Olympic roster for the Vancouver games. It’s nice to see that Kulemin’s solid all-around play this season is getting him some recognition from those outside the organization.

                191

                The second half of the season is underway, and the Maple Leafs continue to struggle. Naturally, speculation has begun to shift to what can be done to improve the roster, and which buyers on the market may have interest in what the Leafs have to offer.

                  58

                  Happy Boxing Day, hockey fans!

                  It’s a great day for hockey here in Leafland.  The World Junior Championship Tournament, featuring the Leafs’ highly-touted Nazem Kadri, officially gets underway this afternoon as Canada takes on Latvia.   Following the tournament opener, we are in for a treat Leafs take on their long-standing rival, the Montreal Canadiens.   And for those who are able to remain awake after all the holiday parties of the past two days, the Edmonton Oilers will visit the Vancouver Canucks in what should be a typical Saturday night Western Conference barn-burner.  Does it get any better?

                  Now, onto the Leafs-Habs preview:

                    95

                    Johnny Misley is the Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations for Hockey Canada, and plays a key role in enhancing hockey in Canada across various levels: from the grassroots programmes all the way up to the National teams. It was very kind of Johnny to take a few minutes to discuss the programme’s aspirations in the upcoming World Junior Championship in Regina as well as the Men’s Olympic hockey tournament in Vancouver.

                      94

                      Did the neutral zone trap morph into the shootout? The pre-lockout reason for altering the rules, transfigured into the shootout as teams play for the shootout more this season. If trends are any indication, perhaps the two memes have a direct correlation.

                        132

                        - The Globe sheds a little insight into Gustavsson’s heart condition, noting that the procedure went well and that he should be back between the pipes next week.

                        - Quick tip of the cap to Martin Brodeur for his 3-0 shutout win over the Buffalo Sabres on Monday night. The victory marked his 103rd career shutout, tying Terry Sawchuk for the all-time lead. Is he not the leading candidate for Team Canada this year or what?

                        - Speaking of Team Canada, I’ve got an exciting interview lined up with Johnny Misley, the Executive VP of Hockey Operations for Hockey Canada and right hand man to Bob Nicholson. We’re going to be touching on both the Men’s Olympic team in Vancouver, as well as World Junior team in Regina. Please add any questions you’d like me to pass onto him in the comments section below!

                        - Lastly, I’ve still got some tickets to the Islanders match up tomorrow night at the ACC. Be sure to drop me an email if interested.

                        [email protected]

                          402

                          Phil Kessel is a legitimate star in the city of Toronto.  Per sporting tradition, he now needs a nickname which is catchy, instantly recognizable, and also describes him as a player.

                          In the course of chatting with a source earlier in the week, the topic of Phil Kessel’s impact in Toronto naturally arose.  At which point the source mentioned, “it’s not every day a team can acquire a bonafide star, but the Leafs have found one in Phlair.”

                          Wait, what? Phlair?

                          “Yeah,” the source replied, somewhat sheepishly. “I don’t know where [the players] come up with these nicknames, but that’s what they’re calling him.”

                            101

                            According to Ken Roberts and www.sportsclubstats.com, the Maple Leafs have a 1.7% chance of making the playoffs at the moment…So, you’re telling me there’s a chance?

                            All jokes aside, I knew the chances were slim, but less than 2%? Is that really accurate? Apparently, Roberts’ site calculates a team’s chances of making the playoffs using a complicated algorithm much too complex to fully understand. But quickly, it takes into account many factors when calculating a team’s chances, including their current record, remaining schedule and goal differential.

                              1665

                              Watching the Leafs play this season has already clearly demonstrated 3 distinct and separate teams.   Team1 started the season on a dreadful 0-6-1 streak.  Team2 surfaced on the teams first extended raod trip, and although losing the opener by the closest of margins in Vancouver, they managed to rally off a string of impressive games, still falling short and losing in extra time or in a shootout.  Team3, continued to pick up a point in games and more recently have managed to win their last 2 in a row.  But, I was left asking the question, why the turn around?  If one was to read the various media reports, 1 man alone was responsible for the Leafs woes early on (Toskala) and now one man alone is the saviour and is responsible for the Leafs turn around (Gustavsson).

                                153

                                Despite an encouraging 3-0-4 record in their past 7 games, the Maple Leafs continue to explore ways to improve their roster with an eye to both the current season and the future.   The following is a rundown of the latest rumours making their way around the campfire in reference to the boys in blue.

                                  38

                                  The big club’s off until a Friday night date with the struggling Hurricanes, so let’s take this opportunity to review the progress of several Maple Leafs’ prospects across various levels and highlight upon the season’s surprises and disappointments thus far. The verdict: fairly encouraging results early on across the board.

                                    403

                                    I know, I know.  It’s just one win.

                                    But you have to admit, it still feels good.   Somewhat of a sense of relief is sweeping through Leafs Nation today.  A sense that, although there is still a long way to go, things are not at a total loss.   This team can find ways to win, and appears to be rounding into the sort of form envisioned by GM Brian Burke during a busy and much-hyped (over-hyped?) offseason.

                                      673

                                      The Leafs are set to visit the Anaheim Ducks as they continue to search for their first win of the season, and while one awkward stat is starting to creep up on them, it seems Gustavsson is ready, but possibly not completely game ready.