For those who don’t know, I actually live in Toronto (as of August) while most of the Classy team live in Ottawa.
Why do I mention that? To give other readers (mostly Toronto based) insight into why I’m still talking about the trades the Toronto Maple Leafs and Brian Burke made yesterday. And because we’re a general hockey blog (not just the Senators, or any other team). I’ve read a ton of blogs/articles/reviews on these trades and frankly, nearly all the articles lacked depth or original thoughts. I find these deals fascinating on a number of different levels, so here’s my (slightly different) take yesterday’s huge trade day.
Locker room drama
It’s no secret both Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf have worn out their welcome in Boston and Calgary dressing rooms. Phaneuf more recently and Kessel well… throughout his career (if you don’t believe me, take a read through Gare Joyce’s Future Greats and Heartbreaks). Everyone knows Brian Burke values players with strong integrity and character, so I find it interesting that Burke’s two big deals – and both are high risk bets – involve stars who’s characters/personalities have been questioned in the past.
Toronto star power, finally
Say what you want about all of the moves Brian Burke has made in his time running the Toronto Maple Leafs, but he’s finally bringing stars to Toronto! I’m not ripping John Fergusson Jr or players like Matt Stajan (a stand up professional, I must add), but it’s ridiculous that the team in the Hockey Mecca/Capital of the World (and highest valued team in the NHL) have gone years without having much talent/true stars in their prime, beyond Mats Sundin. Burke said he wanted to add to the entertainment value of the Leafs and he’s doing just that. Burke’s starting to justify Toronto’s sky-high ticket prices and that’s a good thing.
The popular thought behind Toronto trading four forwards yesterday was “Where are the goals going to come from?”. To be fair, the Maple Leafs rank 17th in the league in goals for. The team has averaged 2.6 goals per game this season… so yes, while they are losing some goal production, it’s not like they were shooting the lights out before the trades. Phaneuf’s presence will help free up more offensive opportunities from Tomas Kabele and Francois Beauchemin. And let’s be honest, the Leaf’s biggest problem this year has been keeping pucks out of their net (especially giving up early leads), not scoring.
Toronto’s a young team, finally
Moving foward, the Toronto Maple Leafs will be a very young team. When I look at their roster next year, it’s probably going to include Tyler Bozak, Christian Hanson, Viktor Stalberg, Nazem Kadri, and Jerry D’Amigo (or at least most of them) in addition to some of the regular players now (Kessel, Gustavsson, etc…). So while the short term future might be a bit rough, it’s definitely a good thing for an organization who’s long held a reputation of being a retirement graveyard. This team will be exciting to watch next season.
So those are my thoughts – overall, a good day for the Leafs. Hopefully you haven’t read all these thoughts elsewhere… or I may be traded to another blog (I will lift my No-Movement-Clause for West coast based blogs).
Stay classy, Toronto Maple Leafs.