Now that the Maple Leafs have landed Wayne Primeau for their third or fourth line, the only matter of summertime suspense concerns the chances of trading Tomas Kaberle for a top six-forward.
Consider a few words on that subject as well as five others. We’ll call it a half-dozen musings for a midsummer day.
Thought number one. The Leafs will indeed trade Kaberle. Oh, I know GM Brian Burke has said moving the veteran defenceman is a long shot. The longest-standing Leaf has a nice contract and the other defenceman acquired by the team this spring; Francois Beauchemin and particularly Mike Komisarek
have rarely been compared with Bobby Orr. But I just don’t see how you bring Kaberle back after you had a deal for him with Boston. Likewise, how does Bruins forward Phil Kessel
, the other principal in the deal, continue as if nothing happened? Athletes will tell you, the first trade is by far the most traumatic. Just because it was halted doesn’t mean the players’ relationship to the club hasn’t been altered.
I can’t see Burke enduring a contract that makes Kaberle untradeable without his consent . Now that the free agent signing spree has played out, GMs are going to want to move players before training camp. This does not mean the Leafs will get Kessel, who would be an absurd bargain in a straight up trade for Kaberle, but I think at some point, Kaberle will tire of the uncertainty.
Thought number two. Maybe, in retrospect, Dominic Moore should have accepted what has been widely reported as a three-year-contract with the Leafs instead of generating a trade to Buffalo and then opting for free agency. Moore was an exemplary worker and the consummate third-line player who thrived with extra work and opportunity. But Moore did not stick in Pittsburgh, New York and Minnesota and the Sabres, who spent a second rounder to get him, are not believed to be pursuing him. Right now, Moore is looking for work.
Thought number three. Dany Heatley should rot in whatever hell he presently occupies. If I was Senators’ owner Eugene Melnyk I would schedule a meeting with Heatley and his representatives. I would explain to them that I was going to honor our contract to the penny and work around the damage that contract will inflict on the club’s payroll. But Dany doesn’t play. Not for Edmonton. Not for anyone and especially, not for Team Canada. He’ll get his money but he had better be sure to stay away from any risky endeavours and sports that would invalidate his contract because I am going to have people watching. In four years, he will be 32 and out of hockey for what passes for a lifetime.
I would give them 24 hours to think about it and toss their sad behinds out of my office. The lesson: I will always be a billionaire. You can’t take that from me. You will always be a hockey player and I can take that away from you.
Thought number four. Toronto’s biggest off-season acquisition? How about Francois Allaire as the Leafs goaltending consultant? The presence of Allaire went a long way in convincing hot-shot Swede Jonas Gustavsson
to sign with the Maple Leafs. Allaire isn’t just the best goalie coach in the NHL. Like the late Charlie Lau in baseball, Allaire and his pupils, from Patrick Roy to J.S. Giguere redefined the position. If I was longtime goaltending prospect Justin Pogge, I would put aside any desire for a change to work with a coach who specializes in maximizing guys with exactly my body type. Burke is looking for a new home for Pogge and that isn’t likely to change.
Thought number five. I know this is Canada and we love hockey but I can’t bring myself to read a single word on the men’s Olympic team. The Olympics are in February for crying out loud. I don’t read stories about retirement either.
Thought number six. It is a new, revitalized Alexei Kovalev who will lead the Ottawa Senators. Presumably, the Sens won’t have to pull Kovalev off a road trip just to get his attention as the Canadiens did last season. The Habs went from Howie Morenz, who died because he couldn’t play for them, to Kovalev, who often just didn’t quite feel like it.