Burke pulls off block­buster trades

Cape Breton Post - - SPORTS -

TORONTO (CP) — The Toronto Maple Leafs sac­ri­ficed of­fence for work ethic Sun­day — and GM Brian Burke is hop­ing the two big-name play­ers he ac­quired will rub off on their new team­mates.

Burke pulled the trig­ger on a pair of block­buster trades, ship­ping out six play­ers to ac­quire all-star de­fence­man Dion Pha­neuf from the Cal­gary Flames and goalie J.S. Giguere from the Ana­heim Ducks.

Toronto had high hopes com­ing into the sea­son, with Burke be­liev­ing his team had a shot at mak­ing the play­offs for the first time in five years. In­stead, a por­ous de­fence and lack­lus­tre goal­tend­ing have con­trib­uted to the Maple Leafs (17-2811) boast­ing the sec­ond-worst record in the league.

Burke dealt with both weak­nesses Sun­day, and said af­ter an­nounc­ing the trades that his team needed more play­ers who led by ex­am­ple — play­ers like Pha­neuf and Giguere.

“I think it makes a big state­ment about where we’re go­ing in terms of what’s needed to play here,” said Burke. “It should be clear to our play­ers that hard work’s go­ing to be a big part of that.” The of­fen­sive cost was steep. In the Cal­gary deal, the Leafs also ac­quired six-foot-six de­fence­man Keith Aulie and winger Fredrik Sjostrom. In ex­change, Toronto gave up de­fence­man Ian White and for­wards Matt Sta­jan, Nik­las Hag­man and Jamal Mayers.

The Leafs sent goalie Vesa Toskala and winger Ja­son Blake to Ana­heim in ex­change for Giguere, who be­came ex­pend­able af­ter the Ducks signed No. 1 goalie Jonas Hiller to a four-year ex­ten­sion Satur­day.

The trades re­move a fair chunk of Toronto’s of­fence, with the de­part­ing play­ers ac­count­ing for 57 of the Leafs’ 149 goals. Four of the Leafs’ top eight scor­ers head­ing into Sun­day are now wear­ing dif­fer­ent uni­forms.

“We’re just go­ing to have to find other ways to man­u­fac­ture of­fence,” said Toronto coach Ron Wil­son.

Some of it may come from Pha­neuf, who made the NHL al­lrookie team in 2005-’06 and has twice played in the league’s all-star game (2006-07 and 2007-08). Pha­neuf is hav­ing his worst of­fen­sive sea­son with just 22 points (10 goals, 12 as­sists) in 55 games, but Burke be­lieves a change of scenery will help the 24-year-old re­gain his form.

“ This guy’s a war­rior,” said Burke. “He’s got a can­non for a shot. He plays the game hard ... I want play­ers who play the game hard be­cause they’re hard to play against.”

The shakeup comes af­ter Toronto lost a 5-3 de­ci­sion Satur­day night to the Van­cou­ver Canucks to ex­tend its win­less streak to six games. The Leafs are tied with Carolina for the fewest points in the East, and sit 11 points out of the fi­nal play­off spot.

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