Sunday, January 31, 2010

Big Day in Leaf Land

Usually I sleep in until noon on Sundays for 2 reasons. 1) is because I love to sleep and 2) because nothing ever happens Sunday mornings before noon. Football hasn’t started yet and neither has the Raptors game. So I get my sleep and don’t miss anything.

That is until this Sunday.

I awoke this morning and checked Facebook as I was eating breakfast. The first thing I see on my newsfeed is a status update by my buddy Mcnea that reads, “Phanuef a Leaf. Who’d a thunk it?” I immediately went to to see if this was real and quickly discovered that it was true. The Leafs had traded the ultimate poo poo platter (Nikolas Hagman, Matt Stajan, Jamal Mayers and Ian White) for former Norris Trophy candidate and perennial all-star defensemen Dion Phanuef.

My first thought was to talk to NHL Insider Bryan Cruse. Here are his thoughts:

“The Leafs are absolutely horrendous, but at least we have something to cheer for. We can now cheer for Dion Phaneuf as he almost surely will tool players from the soft Eastern conference.

Some say who ever gets the best player in a trade, wins the trade, but I don’t agree necessarily. This was a very good deal for both teams. Toronto gets a fan-favourite and all-star defenseman who knows how to kick an ass for years to come, while Calgary has shored up most of the holes in their roster, at reasonable salaries.

In my opinion they booked their playoff ticket today but adding some offense. Their defence was pretty stacked, so it was obvious for a while that Dion would be the trade bait. I am just happy to see a blockbuster trade for the first time in recent memory and even happier it involved the Leafs and even EVEN happier that Toronto didn’t sell their future in the process.

I dreaded the worst when I heard who was coming here. I assumed that Luke Schenn would be part of some elaborate package including 2 additional 1st rounders. So today was a good day.

The Leafs also lost Jason Blake and Vesa Toskala, but of whom I hate with an immense passion. We eat JS Gigueres $6 million cap hit next year, but he is undoubtedly better than Toskala and realistically could be a #1 tendie again, so meh.

Things to look forward to:

-Lots of headshots given out by Dion

-Never seeing the patented Jason Blake wrap around, followed by a weak wrister to the crest, again

-Exelby surrendering the #3 without a fight

-An easier/more enjoyable experience as the Maple Leafs GM in NHL10

-Sexy fights involving Elisha Cuthbert and Carrie Underwood in the private boxes during Leafs/Sens games

-Komisarek to make a crack to Phaneuf about nailing his girlfriend prior to Phaneuf- followed by a fight between the two- followed by Komisarek’s trip to the ER- followed by Komi’s exile to NYI or worse

-Reading about Phaneuf’s new labels as “scrub”, “bust” and of course “overrated” now that he is a member of the Leafs.

Things not to look forward to:

-Pierre McGuire’s on-air orgasms when he sees the Original “Monster” play with the “Human Eraser”

-Still giving Boston a retardedly good pick.”

I had the same thought as Cruse when I first saw the trade. I figured they had either given up Gustavson, Kessel, Kaberle, Kadri or Schenn but in the end they kept their core together and gave up a bunch of guys that had no place in the teams long term plans. Anytime you can get a 24 year old all-star defenseman for a bunch of guys who have inflated stats you need to do it. Props to Burke on that one.

As for the Giggy trade I am not so sure. He hasn’t been the same since Hiller came around so going to a team where the other goalie is being labelled the future of the franchise doesn’t seem like a change of pace. He will get more playing time and will be reunited with former goalie coach Francois Allaire who was his coach when he was in Anaheim. If anything Leaf fans can take solace in the fact that the contracts of Blake and Toskala are gone now.

My only real problem with the trades is that they really hurt the Leafs up front. Yes they got a new starting goalie and an amazing defenseman but they gave away 4 of their starting forwards. Blake, Mayers, Hagman and Stajan all started and were all producing (in one way or another). Now their roster spots will be filled by guys from the Marlies like Hansen and Staalberg. This is only a problem because I feel like those guys need more time in the minors.

Lastly I want to comment on Keith Aulie. People seem to be dismissing his value in this trade and referring to him as merely a throw in. Two years ago he played for Team Canada at the World Juniors and he is a former 4th round pick. He is massive (6-5 208lbs) and plays a physical game that will fit in well with the Leafs. Given time to develop he could become a solid contributor for the Leafs and a top 4 defenseman.

Overall this is a big day for the Toronto Maple Leafs and their fans. I listened to over 3 hours of sports talk radio today and it seems like every Leaf fan is happy. How could you not be? Your team lost White, Stajan, Blake, Hagman, Toskala, and Mayers and you got Phaneuf, Giggy, Aulie and Fredrik Sjostrom. No one from the core was lost and no prospects were traded. That is a solid day if you ask me.

The rest of the year will be a challenge as scoring will be hard to come by but the team clearly needed a shake up and this was as big a shake up as you are going to get. It is also a great way to make fans forget that 24 hours ago the Leafs got out to a 3-0 lead against the Canucks and ended up losing 5-3 (with Andrew Raycroft in net for the 2nd and 3rd periods) in one of the most embarrassing hockey games I have ever watched.

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