By nature, Phil Kessel has traditionally been a bit of an introvert when it comes to the media. The talented Toronto Maple Leafs star has often displayed a stereotypical Midwest humbleness in front of the cameras and that’s cool: Not every hockey player can be as polished and poised as David Backes or Steven Stamkos.
But Kessel has had enough apparently, launching into a diatribe about the Toronto media and how reporters and pundits have treated his captain, Dion Phaneuf. It was quite the scene.
Another NHL trade deadline has come and gone, and whenever it passes, there’s the urge to judge which teams were winners and which ones were at the other end of the competitive spectrum. Of course, any hockey fan paying close attention from year-to-year understands that 99 percent of all trades have to be judged over the long-term to be judged fairly. So bear that in mind as we do our best to break down the teams that came away from this season’s deadline – including the days leading up to it, when many of the biggest deals took place – looking great, and which ones came away looking questionable or worse.
Arizona Coyotes: There were two types of winners on Deadline Day 2015 – the winners who are loading up for a long playoff run, and the winners who stripped down their roster as part of a long-term rebuild. The Coyotes are clearly part of the latter group, and GM Don Maloney did a ton of work that will quicken the franchise’s turnaround: he shook down Rangers counterpart Glen Sather for (among other things) a top prospect (Anthony Duclair) and first-round draft pick; he also landed Chicago’s first-rounder and a prospect for Antoine Vermette. Read more
The Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings continue to negotiate a deal which would see captain Dion Phaneuf going to Detroit today, but the sticking point now appears to be Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith.
The possible deal would see the Leafs get Smith and forward Stephen Weiss in a deal for Phaneuf with the Red Wings assuming the remaining six years on Phaneuf’s deal at $7 million per season. Read more
The NHL trade deadline is only hours away. With Antoine Vermette dealt to Chicago and Curtis Glencross shipped off to Washington, the pool of available trade talent is quickly drying up. Here’s a look at the notable players who could be on the move and the clubs they’re linked to.
Marek Zidlicky, New Jersey Devils. The 38-year-old blueliner has a no-trade clause which will limit where the Devils can ship him. He’s an experienced puck-moving defenseman with a right-handed shot, which could interest the Ducks and Red Wings. CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty suggests the Bruins could also make a pitch. Read more
The last time the Toronto Maple Leafs traded a maligned defenseman to the Detroit Red Wings it was Larry Murphy, who went on to win two more Stanley Cups in Detroit and cement his credentials as a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. After all, four Stanley Cups looks a lot better than two on the career resume.
That was 1996-97 and Murphy was being booed every time he stepped on the ice in Toronto. The Leafs were so desperate to part with Murphy, they gave up the ubiquitous “future considerations” which turned out to be Detroit picking up part of his salary and allegedly sending then-GM a bottle of wine to then-GM Cliff Fletcher that summer.
A year later, the Maple Leafs made out a little better when they gifted another defenseman to the Red Wings in the form of Jamie Macoun. They at least got a fourth-round pick that turned out to be the useful Alexei Ponikarovsky in that deal. Macoun, meanwhile, went on to be a top-four defenseman for the Red Wings and helped them to their second consecutive Stanley Cup in 1998. Read more
There’s often a disconnect between rumor and result as the NHL trade deadline approaches. No so with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the month of February. Name the rumored departure and it’s happened so far like clockwork. Unrestricted free agents-to-be Cody Franson, Mike Santorelli and Daniel Winnik were supposed to go, and they did. Early. No dillydallying from GM Dave Nonis. Off they went for picks, a prospect and warm bodies Zach Sill and Olli Jokinen.
The moves signalled the beginning of a rebuild but not a demolition of the team’s core just yet. It was obvious Nonis would ship out the UFAs to ensure he got something with his team way out of playoff contention.
Then came the David Clarkson bombshell. Essentially buying out Clarkson’s contract by acquiring the injured Nathan Horton, who doesn’t count against the cap, sent a message to the rest of the team: Toronto truly wants to shake up its nucleus. The operation is broke and needs fixing.
Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier played arguably his best game of the season Thursday night, turning away 47 Philadelphia Flyer shots in a 3-2 victory, and it was all the more impressive considering he and his teammates learned of the Clarkson news shortly before game time.
The team called a meeting and Clarkson wasn’t there. Bernier said he and the players knew something was up at that point.
If all goes according to plan, right winger David Clarkson will be in the lineup Saturday night when the Columbus Blue Jackets take on one of his former teams, the New Jersey Devils. But it’s not his time in Newark that folks like to pontificate on, it’s his brief tenure in Toronto after Clarkson signed a big free agent deal with his hometown team.
Now that the dust has settled on the shocking trade that sent him to Columbus in exchange for injured winger Nathan Horton, Clarkson has revealed his thoughts on the turbulent times he had as a Maple Leaf, and they’re not as bad as you might think.