Burke pulls off blockbuster trades
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.