mike babcock of the toronto maple leafs
Photo: Paul Sancya/AP Photo

Pierre LeBrun discusses the price to get Jake Gardiner locked up long-term, Sean Avery shares an amusing Mike Babcock anecdote, Elliotte Friedman provides an update on the William Nylander contract negotiations, and more in the Friday links.

Leafs Links

Sean Avery tells hilarious Mike Babcock story on Spittin’ Chiclets (iTunes)
Sean Avery joined the Spittin’ Chiclets podcast for a fascinating interview that included an amusing anecdote about his time playing for Mike Babcock in Cincinnati.

I loved [playing for Babcock]. I loved it. I mean, he’s a fucking lunatic.

I remember being called into his office one morning. He sits me down across from him and he’s like, ”Where were you last night?”

I start thinking to myself, “Jesus Christ, where was I?” I mean, I was asleep. I start second-guessing myself like, ‘Were you asleep?”

Yeah, I was fucking asleep. I absolutely was asleep.

I started thinking of John Wikstrom, my 6’6 roommate. “Where was Wik?”

No, he was beside me, I remember. I was asleep. I looked at him, “I was asleep.”

He goes, “No you weren’t.”

I said, “I don’t know man. Okay.”

He goes, “You slash my tires?”

I had never had a coach…. I was like, “No, I didn’t slash your fucking tires.”

He goes, “I know that you did.” And tells me to get up and leave. That’s it.

I had no idea whether I did it or didn’t do it at that point. I didn’t know what happened. I had no clue.

That was just how he played insane mind games with you. He pushed as hard as he possibly could.

LeBrun on Gardiner’s potential value on the open market (TSN1050)
Pierre Lebrun joined the Scott MacArthur show to discuss Jake Gardiner’s pending UFA status.

On Nate Schmidt’s contract as an indication of the price to get Gardiner locked up long term:

To your question about Nate Schmidt, it’s very pertinent. I would say to you that if Jake Gardiner wanted to sign an extension from the Leafs over the next six months, it’s going to be under $6 million a year — maybe a bit less than Nate Schmidt — but if he hits the open market, he easily eclipses $6 million because of the dearth of top-four defensemen available every summer on July 1st. Look no further than the financial bonanza that awaited Kevin Shattenkirk a few summers ago and he was healthy scratched a few games ago.

Definitely between $6-7 million for Jake Gardiner if he hits the market. Not as much if he wants to be part of this puzzle here in Toronto with all of the salary cap ramifications.

It’s supply and demand. There are not a lot of guys left. Erik Karlsson is the top pending UFA defenseman. That is a whole separate conversation. Whether he stays in San Jose or he hits the market, he is in his own world and that is different. After that, it is basically Gardiner and Tyler Myers who are the next best two UFA defensemen on the market this summer. That’s it. There are a few other guys, but those are the best two UFA defensemen after Erik Karlsson.

On the dialogue between the two sides so far:

Last week, Pat Brisson met with Kyle Dubas while Brisson was in Toronto. They talked about Gardiner. The reality is — and Gardiner knows this — that they need to figure out Nylander, Marner and Matthews first. They’ve got to figure that out.

I suppose if he really went low, they could say they could live with it either way, but I think the natural schedule of events here will be Nylander, and then I think Matthews and then I think Marner, and then I think Gardiner.

Brian Burke on heavy hockey, reviewing more plays (Sportsnet 650)
Brian Burke talks about heavy hockey, playoff hockey, play reviews, and shares his experience with the “Roxy Flu” out in Vancouver.

I had a lot of buddies in the police force there. We got up-to-date reports on who was in the Roxy and how late they were there.

I had a problem with one player in my first year there where I came into work at six o’clock in the morning and my red light is on on my phone. I play the message and it’s the constable saying, “You don’t know me, but Sandy gave me your number. Your player walked out of the rips last night at 2:30 in the morning.”

I call the player in. The players are paranoid. Now they’re like, “They’re following us.” He’s like, “Jeez, there are cameras everywhere.”

“No, you’re playing in Canada. A cop phoned it in. Wake up. People are watching you.”

The visiting teams found the Roxy a lot more than our guys did.

Brian Burke on Leafs’ mini-slump: ‘It was just a funk’ (Sportsnet)
Burke provides his thoughts on the Leafs getting their speed back in their win over the Jets, the team’s overall mix, and more on Prime Time Sports.

“This happens to teams and the more young players you have, the more frequently it happens. You know it’s not coaching. They’ve got a good coach, they’ve got good assistant coaches, the goaltending was okay, so it’s just a funk.”

MLHS Podcast – Episode #4 – Leafs forward lines, D pairings, Nylander (MLHS)
After a longer-than-intended sabbatical, the boys are back for Episode #4 of the Maple Leafs Hot Stove podcast, featuring a line-by-line and pairing-by-pairing breakdown of the Leafs first nine games of the season as well as a quick discussion on the ongoing William Nylander saga.

31 Thoughts: Goalies at odds with NHL over new equipment (Sportsnet)
Friedman shares the latest on the William Nylander negotiations: “On the long term, the team wishes to keep it under $7 million. On the short term, the player isn’t interested in something at or under $20 million on a four-year contract. It’s still a grind.”

Nik Kulemin wins court battle in quest for Canadian citizenship (National Post)
Interesting story here on former Leaf Nik Kulemin’s legal battle to receive Canadian citizenship for him and his family, who consider Toronto home. The former Leaf did not want to leave Canada or Toronto specifically, but he never received a substantive offer from a Canadian team when he became a free agent in 2014 and signed a big ticket in New York.