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Lamoriello on the Ottawa trade

by Chris Lund / Toronto Maple Leafs



Here's what Maple Leafs general manager Lou Lamoriello had to say about the multi-player trade that dealt Dion Phaneuf to the Ottawa Senators...

You've been complimentary of Phaneuf during your time in Toronto, what about this trade made you willing to deal him?

Well first of all, you're right Chris [Johnston]. I've been extremely impressed with Dion from day one. As I mentioned consistently, I came in with no preconceived notions so I really didn't know what to expect other than what there was as far as hearsay at different times. He has been impressive in every way whatsoever. The phone call I had with him, I expressed that. I meant it sincerely. He has been a great leader, he has handled every situation that's been asked of him and he is going to be missed, there's no question. But, a transaction like this has to be made for the reasons that they're made. That is staying with the plan that's in place.

What made Lindberg an attractive prospect to you to be included in the deal?

Well we certainly, as I've said repeatedly, have an outstanding scouting staff with Mark Hunter and his group. Mark had him very high on his list and we felt very comfortable that when we had to select players -- whenever you put this type of transaction together -- that he was one individual prospect that we targeted and he became part of the deal. He's a size and strength forward and he'll be given every opportunity. He'll be reporting to the Marlies but we'll look and see exactly how he'll fit into our prospects that we have.

How does this trade get you closer to being a good team two or three years down the line?

First of all I think the length of Dion's contract and the amount of cap space that is there, where that would put us at a given time, certainly not knowing where the cap will go -- and I always have had a feeling that it would level off -- this gives us the opportunity to do things. It also gives us the opportunity when some of our younger players are coming at the end of their entry-level contracts, who we have high expectations for, to be able to sign them. This was a transaction that certainly wasn't for today. Dion is going to leave, certainly, a hole in our lineup, there's no question. I think that what, as I've said continuously what the overall plan is, when you have an opportunity to do this -- and I don't think we're going to sacrifice anything up front. We hope with the players we did acquire who have potential -- one being an established forward who should fit into our top-six next year -- that what our coaching staff can do with them and sometimes a change of scenery bring the most out of someone. This is a transaction that I think we had no choice with.

What does it take to trade the captain of a marquee franchise like the Maple Leafs?

Well, it certainly wasn't easy and that would be an understatement. Because all of the right things come into place, especially when you've got a quality individual. Unfortunately this is part of the business, you have to separate the person and the player when you make these types of decisions and you have to make sure you separate your heart and your head. You have to make the decisions with your head. All things -- when you weigh positives, when you weigh negatives -- the positives certainly outweigh whatever the negatives are and you have to go forward. This certainly wasn't something easy, I don't think anything is easy when it comes to moving a player from one team to another and their families. I've always said that whenever I felt it was something that you get used to, you should get out of the business.

How did Dion receive the news? Do you intend to give the captaincy to anybody else at this time?

First of all I spoke to Dion as soon as the trade call was finished. I called Dion and spoke to him in Calgary, I'm still here in Toronto, and explained what had transpired. He was as classy as anybody could possibly be. At a time like that you put yourself in that person's position and you know that they're listening and you question what they're hearing. He responded in an extremely positive way, understood -- whether he agreed or not, you'd have to speak to him -- but he understands what we're doing here. He's been a part of that throughout the year. I just expressed to him how much I appreciate what he has brought to the things we've tried to change and how supportive he has been. He was just outstanding, I can't say enough about him... Mike and I have spoken and we do not feel that [giving the captaincy to somebody] should be done. We'll have alternate captains throughout the rest of the year.

Could you talk about how critical it was that the Senators picked up his contract?

We did not retain any salary so that's extremely important. As far as what Dion and how he affects Ottawa, I think only Ottawa can answer that. They've got, certainly, a quality player and a quality person going there. We did this because we certainly felt this was in the best interest of what are trying to do with the Maple Leafs.

Was there interest from another team that made you think of a different transaction?

You really don't want me to talk about that do you?... I have no comment on that.

How difficult is it with the salary cap being flat to pull off a deal like this and how quickly did it come together?

It's an understatement to say how difficult it is these days. Bryan and I have done a big deal -- when I say a big deal, not as many players -- back in the early 2000s. I think the relationship is where, when you get in to a conversation you either know whether you're going to be able to go forward or not. There's not any back and forth. The respect and understanding we have of each other, we've been in the business a while. It was something that came about, we had conversations, we spent the time necessary that had to be done. As far as how long it took, this is something that came off over the last week or so.

How active do you expect to be before the deadline?

I have no idea. You never know. We're certainly going to do whatever we can to make ourselves better and, not only today, but for tomorrow, whatever is done. I wouldn't even know how to answer that. If there was something evident we'd have it done.

Can you tell us the origins of the trade? How quickly did it come together?

It came fairly quickly, I'd prefer not to get into timeframe because I'll probably be wrong with the timeframe with these types of things. There was discussions like you have throughout the National Hockey League with reference to general managers. You talk about one situation and then a question comes up about another and you get intrigued with the question. You extend another question and that's what came about and here we are today with a major transaction.

How much were Mike Babcock and Brendan Shanahan consulted on this deal?

Mike will certainly be speaking and he'll express whatever thoughts he has but we're a very tight-knit group here and I think we've said that from day one. We work together extremely closely. We've got Mark Hunter, we've got Kyle Dubas, we've got Brandon Pridham, Mike, Brendan and myself. We're all on the same page when we're going forward. Our communication is open, it will continue to be open, we'll discuss whatever has to be done internally and whatever decision going forward, it's going to be a unanimous one.

What approach do you plan on taking with the Maple Leafs going forward?

I don't think there's any letter in the alphabet left out. I think it's A-to-Z. Whatever opportunity there is to make the Maple Leafs better certainly will be considered. If it's the right situation it'll be done. As far as pinpointing one area and not another area, no matter what it might be, whatever the availability is to us within the framework of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, within the framework of the salary cap, within the framework of our own players and our set of young players that are coming and when our plan is to get them in here. There are so many different variables that come in. I couldn't really answer what's going to happen next. I've always said we're going to have a five-year plan that's going to change every single day.

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