Well as predicted, by everyone in the hockey world, Brian Burke has taken the reigns as President and General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs. At least in principle. I feel stupid for even reading Scott Burnside's article, on Burke's other "potential" landing spots, but we all knew that those were reaches, just like most of Scotty's material. Now the rumor mill has been churning as to whether Burkie has been handling some of the decisions made, at least we thought, by Cliff Fletcher for the better part of a year, which include most notably the move to bring in Ron Wilson as coach, not to mention some woodpile dumps, and some maneuvers at the draft. My claim, at least I'm clinging to it, is that Burke's lunch with Sundin back in the beginning of the month was an attempt to inform the Swedish Captain, that he was going to be taking over the helm, and that he wanted that shiny dome back in Toronto, at least after posting pipe dreams of Mats in a Ducks uniform. The last deadline that Sundin or some media hack reported was midway through December, but we won't hold our breath for that. Either way, look for dramatic changes in the weeks ahead.
Oh the Isles, the Isles... Watching the Isles is like watching me play hockey, overmatched, undersized, yet hard working enough to get a few bounces to go my way. It was never more clear than in last nights game against the Canadiens in Montreal. Montreal dominated the game, in every aspect, holding the offensive zone for eras of time, and forcing the Isles to ice the puck more times than I've seen in a long, long time. Yet, interim goaltender Joey MacDonald has been solid, Mark Streit is definetely earning his free agent dollars, and Trent Hunter is attempting to put the team on his back and go hard to the net. And as Hunter bounces a garbage goal off of Price as he gets knocked to the ice while at the edge of the paint, the Montreal collective begins to wonder, and then shrugs it off, "Nah, that won't happen." But karma has a way of biting you in the ass. Ryan O'Byrne last year's purse snatcher, makes a pass back to Carey Price, but what's this? Carey's not there! He's on the bench, so an extra attacker can come out for the delayed call on the Islanders. O'Byrne puts into his own net tying the game for the Isles with less than 5 to play, which eventually leads to a scoreless overtime, and the inevitable skills competition. Joey Mac stops Kostitsyn and Tanguay, while Park rifles one over Carey's shoulder, and Bill G goes five hole. Isles win in a shootout. O'Byrne is serenated out of the Bell Center by the Canadian faithful. Bad karma? Purse snatching, Patrick Roy, we think there's a connection.
Boston has gone 9-0-1 over the last 10, with a hard to swallow shootout loss to the Rangers as the only blemish in that stretch. But Bruins fans refuse to get excited, acknowledging the road to April is long, and hard, and they've been disappointed before. But you can't help but get excited about teams that are exceeding their expectations.
Dallas continues to come apart at the seams with 6 wins since of the start of the season, 20 games in. Lets recap. Last year, surprise trip to Western Conference Finals, loss to eventual Cup winners. Acquire Avery. Begin losing. Turco loses his game, or his mind, we can't figure out which. Modano blasts his "teammates," and hints at a front office job. Brett and Les sign hard-working Mark Parrish. Zubov returns to lineup. Bring Sydor back to town. Morrow blows his ACL, gone for season. Ott somehow breaks hand in dance with the Ducks Montador. Woe is the Dallas Stars. The only silver lining out of this heap is the play of Trevor Daley, who someone in the broadcast last night mentioned, "is channeling Paul Coffey." I think Tippett called Daley into his office, and said I'm giving you the green light, this is your opportunity to come out from the shadows of this strong defensive core, even though we're not playing like it now. Make something happen.
Claude Lemieux, is so serious about his return to the NHL he was willing to go to China. He played two games with the China Sharks, the San Jose affiliate in Shanghai(?), and has now signed a tryout contract with the AHL affiliate in Worcester. The 43 year old, one-time Conn Smythe, and four-time Cup winner, played 18 seasons in the league, his last in '02-'03 is reportedly getting a shot because of his friendship with Sharks GM Doug Wilson. The opinions are mixed on whether or not he'll make the show, or whether they want him to.
But in other news for the Sharks, backstop Nabokov will return to face the Hawks tomorrow night, after missing seven games over a three week stretch. Nabby is apparently very anxious to get back between the pipes after being helped off the ice on the final save of a shootout win over the Blues. The look on the Sharks players having no goaltender to celebrate the win with was priceless. Every face read, "Is this it? Is this what brings this team down to Earth?" after a tremendous start to the season. But Brian Boucher did in an admirable job with a 5-1-1 record, winning the last four.
And I think that's all I got. Light night tonight, three games on the docket...
Blues/Preds - Shea Weber's fun to watch.
Thrashers/Leafs - Ugh.
Flames/Kings - Is Ersberg the #1? That position is day-to-day for the Kings, he gets the start tonight.