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Canadian Shake-ups, NHL Observations



Whether you love or hate Brian Burke, you have to, at the very least, admire how seriously he takes winning.  The man wants to win.  Like, right now.

There are simply too many players involved in the Toronto/Calgary deals to congratulate a winner.  But Burke knows one thing – players that are good-but-not-great are easy to come by.  You need the difference-makers to win, and Phaneuf is definitely one of those.

This pic of Wendell is G

Toronto had nothing to build around when Burke got there, and the guy seems to be aware that nobody has ever won anything “by commitee” (the current codeword for “trying to win without talent”).  The Penguins win around Crosby/Malkin, the Red Wings win around Datsyuk/Zetterberg, so Burke is building around guys like Kessel/Phaneuf/Komisarek.  Not quite on the same level, but better than the cores of a few other teams (Havlat/….Kobasew?).

At least Toronto fans will have a few A- players (okay, B+) to cheer for while finishing out the year — for them, it’s been far too many winter months of cheering for a team of C+ guys without a Mats Sundin, Doug Gilmour or Wendell Clark.  (By the way, how insufferable will Toronto fans be if Burke manages to transform them into good…. which I suspect he will.  It’ll be like mixing crappy Flames fans with obnoxious Yankee fans.  Plus, about 55,000 people already have one foot on a bandwagon that would immediately collapse under the weight all the new “diehards”.)

By the way, worth mentioning – I think Matt Stajan is a really talented guy.  The Flames did well by themselves in picking up a quality depth scorer.  In fact, I think both teams made a smart move.


I think DiPietro looks too bad on too many plays, too often right now.  I know he’s got rust to shake off; the guy hasn’t played goal in forever, but it looks worse than that.

I’m just really nervous about that big contract.  His numbers are fine, that’s not what stresses me.  I’m saying he just isn’t technically sound these days.  He doesn’t look balanced, his angles are suspect, he isn’t getting his pads flat post-to-post in the butterfly, and just doesn’t look like the old Ricky. 

Here’s to hopin’.


Is Matt Duchene gonna be last years Steven Stamkos?  Just kill it the second half of the year and be a legit NHL stud by next year?  I say yes.


If you’re the GM for Washington, don’t you go Brian Burke trying get a goalie for your team?  You can’t expect your guys to put up football numbers every night in playoffs, and those stupid, weak goals are just so disheartening.

Of all the stacked teams, San Jose really has the best total package right now (even though I like Chicago and Washington’s forwards better.  San Jose might have the best line in the NHL, but aren’t the best one through 12).  Nabokov is legit.

Happy February – it’s Superbowl week!  Your reward is an insider report on how TV news reports get made.



13 Responses to “Canadian Shake-ups, NHL Observations”
  1. St. Cloud Gopher says:

    A good Toronto will be as annoying as a good Red Sox team. Only Boston rooted for those failures, but since they finally won, there is Red Sox Nation. F ‘em!
    Anyway, just saw this on USCHO. I’m sure you’ve seen it (many times?), but just in case it was post-college I found it amusing.

  2. MikeB says:

    Who can Washington pick up in the Net?

    Marty Turco, Dan Ellis/Pekke Rinne, Johan Hedberg, Ty Conklin, Marty Biron/Dwanye Roloson, Jaro Halak/Carey Price, Josh Harding, Manny Legace, Chris Osgoode, Pascal Leclaire (I have given up on him… not sure if Brian Murray has however)

    There isn’t much out there that is a significant upgrade to Theodore/Neuivrth/Varlamov. The last of which is coming off IR soon, which should help.

    Like Bob Mackenzie said, the best player in the deal yesterday was Ian White. Who makes about 1/7th of Dion’s cash.

  3. Char says:

    Hate to tell you this, but Komisarek has looked worse than awful for the last year and a half. Phaneuf just gives Toronto two overpaid, overrated D-men. But, to paraphrase Jim Bouton, Brian Burke is not the sort of man to sit around when the situation calls for panic.

    Gee, Gopher, I’ve been a Red Sox fan since 1970. And you’re saying “F me”? After all the frustration I went through over the decades, still hoping for my team? When for years, our warm, happy moment was “Hey, the Sox won Game 6 of the greatest World Series!”? I always thought loyal, non-bandwagon fans were to be admired. And believe me, the vast majority of (non-bandwagon) Red Sox fans are as far from entitled as you can get. Yankees fans are always postitive they’ll win. Many if not most Sox fans, to this day, are sure the Sox will mess it up somehow.

    As for the Caps, IMHO Varlamov (who needs to get/stay healthy) and Neuvirth are both good goalies, but they’re babies. Give them time and they’ll be solid (especially Varlamov – IMHO he’s a keeper).

  4. jtbourne says:

    I know he’s been playing bad, and that Phaneuf is overrated. But what does it matter if they’re overpaid of they can make it work under their cap space? Its up to Burke to make it work financially – the bottom line is that Phaneuf is better than White, so they got better there. A to B. And an underachieving Komisarek is an above-average NHL d-man (hurt + underachieving = average).

    As for MikeB, if I was asked to rank every goalie in your comment, I’d put every single goalie ahead of all three Capitals tenders, minus Osgood and Conklin. Maybe Leclaire too. Personally, I’d have killed to get Giguere from Anaheim (okay, he gets paid too much, but you gotta make some effort to weld your weak link). And to reiterate, I’ll take quality over quantity when it comes to building a Stanley Cup contender. White is just more (affordable) quantity.

  5. MikeB says:

    No doubt the majority of the goaltenders I listed are better. But to get one you are giving up Neuivrth or Varlamov, plus a prospect (People would be gunning for Karl Alzner or John Carlson) and it wouldn’t be worth it for the increase in quality, unless we are talking Harding or Halak. Then the price goes up. The best move would probably be Marty Turco or Johan Hedberg both of which become UFA’s at the end of the season and provide some experience and stability that the Washington goalies lack, and might come cheaper then one goalie and a prospect.

  6. jtbourne says:

    Fair points man. I wouldn’t be worried about giving up Varlamov or Neuvirth for a proven guy, cause the best case scenario for those two goalies is probably to someday hear someone say “Neuvirth is a proven guy”. The point I was trying to make is, if I knew my stacked team lacked in one area, and that area is the one that championships hinge on, I’d be active. That’s all.

  7. Madeleine says:

    It’s been so long since I had hopes for the Leafs that this feeling is new for me. I like it.

    Found this nostalgic Leafs video on YouTube, pretty good for a laugh.

  8. Neil says:

    I typed a solid 200 words on the Dion deal and then realized you basically said it already in fewer words.

    Burke is a smart guy, he is clearing off his books and adding core pieces in preparation for some free agent signings. The leafs could improve a lot in the off season. LIke most people who say what they mean and mean what they say, Burke has a fleet of haters. I’ve always liked him for his honesty, you might not always agree with him but he doesn’t shy away from the media and he shares my dislike of Mike Milbury.

    I think the The Blake-Giguerre-Toskala deal works for both teams, no one wants a 6.5 million dollar backup, Toskala can’t handle the pressure in TO but he’s a questionmark at 4 million, and Blake is an ok top-6 guy with a small cap hit (2.5ish). I bet Giggy has a good year in TO next year but he certainly hasn’t been very good in Anaheim since Hiller took over. Where is the Giggy that won a cup and a con smythe? I bet Burke finds him.

  9. MikeB says:

    Niel- Blake has a 4m cap hit this year through 2012. He is a terrible contract.

    What about that Jokinen/Prust deal? How can you have two players tossed under the bus like that?

  10. Christianson10 says:

    Varlamov stood on his head in last years playoffs till the pens and Theodore is on a hot streak…but if they picked up conklin i would definately cry tears of joy

  11. Neil says:

    I don’t know how exactly they calculate it but has Blake’s cap hit in TO at 2.5 and in Anaheim at 1.5. Are they just calculating the part of the season he played for each team (meaning that Blake has a cap hit of 4 million next year)? I definitely agree that 4 million for Blake is a terrible deal.

  12. Blake says:

    Maybe it’s just the Wild fan in me, but I think I’d rather have a Havlat/Koivu core to build around than Kessel/Overrated/Overpaid. That’s just me though.

  13. KForbes says:

    Neil: Blake’s cap hit is $4 million next year and the year after. But his actual salary breakdown is $4.5 million this year and then $3 million both next year and the year after. The actual salary is of more importance to the Ducks, who operate under a bit of an internal budget. Giguere is set to make $7 million next season. So while they are only saving $2 million in cap space, Anaheim saves $4 million in salary next season (which basically flips over to Hiller). (all salary info I used is from… it seems to be more accurate than nhlnumbers when it comes to these calculations).

    With Washington, I think the real question is ‘when is Varlamov going to return?’ He’s been listed as being “close” for what seems like three weeks now. He seems to be the best bet to carry that team between the pipes. If I’m a Capitals fan, I would be concerned if he sees minimal time prior to the Olympics and then goes off to be a member of Team Russia (which is what it appears to be shaping up to be). But on the otherhand, he’s definitely the third goalie on Russia’s roster, so he’s unlikely to play. He has been practising in Hershey.

    On a side note of what might have been, I never realised how good a fit Giguere might have been in Washington. With Theodore making $4.5 million and coming off the books at the off-season, I would think Anaheim would have been interested. The only thing I can see Washington balking at is Giguere’s salary next year, with guys like Backsrom and Fleischmann needing a new deals.

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