Brian Burke Toronto Bound?

The worst kept secret in hockey was officially announced this week in the Toronto media, that the Toronto Maple Leafs are, in fact, talking to former Anaheim Ducks’ general manager, Brian Burke.

Burke, who was in Anaheim when they won the Stanley Cup in 2007, has been rumored, since this past summer, to be the next Maple Leafs general manager.  These rumors got stronger in the off-season, when the Leafs hired Burkeʼs close friend and former Providence roommate, Ron Wilson, to replace the fired Paul Maurice as the head coach. Burke also didnʼt want to sign a long- term deal to stay in Anaheim, and continued to express a desire to move East and into a big hockey market.

People around the NHL thought it was just a matter of time, when Burke vacated the Ducks GM post earlier this month, that he would be the Leafs’ next GM.

Approximately a day after he was allowed to negotiate with other teams, it was reported that Burke, who also worked in the GM capacity with the Vancouver Canucks, was in the hunt for a lucrative deal with Toronto, for a contract similar to the Raptors’ GM, Bryan Colangelo. 

According to those reports, Colangelo is in the middle of a five- year contract that nets him 3.5 million per season. The sticking point with Toronto is that Burke wants the same sort of total autonomy that Colangelo has with the Raptors.

Currently things are at the preliminary stages, as Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment representative, Gord Kirke has been talking with Burkeʼs lawyer, Peter Gall. The next step will be Kirke getting the green light from the Board Of Directors, to make a formal deal.

Indications are that a formal meeting wonʼt transpire until this coming Wednesday, at the earliest. Stay tuned to 29sports.com for more information.

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Dustin Penner Scores Big!

Dustin Penner scores a big goal ina 7-2 win over Columbus after Craig MacTavish lite up on his latest performances.

“He’s not competitive enough — or fit enough to help us — so why put him back in?” said MacTavish, who made him a healthy scratch for the Oilers Monday night road game against the Detroit Red Wings.

“He’s never been fit enough to help us.” MacTavish gave no timeline in how long he will sit out Penner, who in 6 games has scored 4 points and a +6 rating.

Penner, who signed a five year 21.25 million dollar contract with Edmonton in August 2007, has, according to MacTavish, not played anywhere near his potential.

 “We signed him to be a top-two line player, and that’s kind of where it ended.” The difference was that we thought the contract was a starting point, and he’s viewed it as a finish line.” 

 

Originally a high draft choice in 2004 by the Anaheim Ducks, Penner enjoyed a solid rookie season in California, which saw him score 29 goals in 2006, while playing a solid two way game.

Looked upon as a future star power forward, the Oilers signed him to an offer sheet, and Penner was expected to continue with his rapid development in Edmonton. Last season he got off to a bit of a slow start, but still managed to put up a respectable 23 goals and 47 assists.

This year, however, the 26 year-old has found himself in MacTavish’s doghouse.

“It’s been one thing after another,” said the coach. “I can’t watch it — for certain not another two and a half years. What we’ve seen is inconsistency. We need him to be a better player.”

Coming into Detroit , the Oilers, who are 6-6-0 on the road this year have won two out of their last three games at Joe Louis Arena.

Glenn Anderson’s Wait is Over

Former six time Stanley Cup winner, Glenn Anderson, finally got that magical phone call this past summer, informing this 498 goal scorer that he has been elected into the ultimate shrine — The Hockey Hall Of Fame. Last week Anderson finally made it is own party in the Hall!

“Ever since I got the call on June 17, it’s something I’d like to soak in and remember forever,” said the Vancouver native, who was an important part of the Edmonton Oilers’ Stanley Cup dynasty in the 1980’s. “As you get closer to the day, you reflect on the history of how it transpired. How did I get where I am? Where did I come from? These are the questions you ask yourself.”

Anderson, who will be joining five of his Oilers teammates, Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, Paul Coffey and Grant Fuhr as honored members, admits that he still doesn’t know what to say in his induction speech on Monday night.

Without question, Anderson, who over his career scored 1099 points with the Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers and the St. Louis Blues, was the best fourth round pick in the history of the NHL.

Over his career, Anderson was known as a real clutch player, who always produced come playoff time. In 225 play-off games this winger, who was known for cutting to the net, scored 93 goals, which ranks fifth all time. He also registered 121 assists for a grand total of 214 play-off points, which place him fourth all time.

Individual number aside, the number one highlight for Anderson, in his stellar career, was being part of the five Stanley Cups won by the Oilers in their heyday.

“The draft pulled that team together, and the players revolved around Gretzky,” Anderson said. “When you’re playing with the best player in the world, you start doing things you never dreamed about doing.”

After a stint with the Leafs, Anderson was traded in March 1994 to the New York Rangers, where he won his sixth and final Stanley Cup ring.

Prior to his NHL career Anderson spent the 1979/80 campaign playing with Canada’s national team, which had its headquarters in Calgary . He also experienced the heartbreak of the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics, when Canada lost to the Russians, who — of course — lost gold to the Americans.

On the international circuit Anderson participated in two Canada Cups and two world championships, and had a stint with two European clubs, before retiring in 1997.

“I know there’s a plaque,” he said about getting into the hall. “I hear there’s ghosts in the hall, and I imagine my picture looking right at Father Bauer or Glen Sather (when we’re) ghosts at some point in time, when we’re no longer here and the lights are out, and Slats saying, ‘It’s past curfew — you’d better go back to bed.’

Currently Anderson resides in New York, where he works with the New York Rangers in PR. He will be going in on Monday with former Russian and NHL star, Igor Larionov, former official, Ray Scapinello and builder, Ed Chynoweth.

Approximately three months from now Anderson will, once again, be having his career celebrated, as the Edmonton Oilers plan to retire his number 9 jersey prior to a match against the Phoenix Coyotes.

“This (going into the Hall of Fame) and the banner in Edmonotn are two different scenarios completely,” he said. “My tenure was mostly with the Oilers, but my hockey career was not just in the professional ranks in North America .

 

The Professor…Igor Larionov in the HHOF

Last week a true gentleman was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Though Igor Larionov had a stellar NHL career, that included 3 Stanley Cup rings with the Detroit Red Wings, this forward nicknamed the ‘Professor’ will always be known for his dominating play on the international circuit.

Larionov, who didn’t start his NHL journey until the age of 29, first made a name for himself in 1979, when he dominated with 6 points, in pacing the Russians to a victory in the World Junior Championships.

During that same tournament there was a scrawny kid involved named Wayne Gretzky, who of course today is the all time leading NHL scorer, and knows a little about evaluating talent.

“Everyone knows that Igor was such a great player,” said Gretzky. “His passing and vision were spectacular and he was one of the brightest students of the game He was always learning, always helping and always teaching.”

Larionov was also instrumental in leading the Soviet Union past Canada in the 1981 Canada Cup. His best years in international hockey came with the famed Red Army team, where he dominated, with fellow line mates Sergei Makarov and Vladimir Krutov, on what was called at the time — ‘the greatest line in hockey history’.

In his prime, the Professor was known for engineering headlong offensive rushes at full speed, before hitting the breaks and making accurate passes to the trailing defenseman. 

It wasn’t until 1989 that NHL fans got to see him on a regular basis, as he kicked off what was a stellar 14- year career,that saw him register 169 goals, 475 assists and a plus 104.

In Vancouver he was a steady influence on a young, up and coming superstar,  Pavel Bure. He also played for the San Jose Sharks and Detroit Red Wings, where he would go on to win three Stanley Cups, before moving to the Florida Panthers and New Jersey Devils, where he retired after the 2004 season.

“When I was growing up and playing hockey in the Soviet Union in the 1970’s and 1980’s, my goals were to win in the Russian league, play for the national team and win gold medals in different events around the world,” said Larionov.

 “My goal in joining the NHL was to win the Stanley Cup. That opportunity came on one of the greatest teams I’ve ever played for(Detroit  Redwings). To me that is the highlight of my career.”

Today Larionov resides in Southern California with his three children, who are all trying to make it into the movie/music business.

“It’s a tough business, and not very easy,” said Larionov, who had his best NHL season in 1996, in scoring 73 points and an impressive +37.

“They are trying to find their way, like everybody else in L.A They’re doing some music and some acting. It’s not like hockey, where people can see if you can play or not.”

After Monday’s induction, Larionov will officially be the fourth player from that powerful 1980’s Red Army club to have a plaque hanging in the Hockey Hall Of Fame. He will join legendary goaltender, Vladislav Tretiak, Viacheslav Fetisov, and defenseman Alexei Kasatonov.

“It’s a big honor to be included in the Hockey Hall of Fame with the greatest people who played or contributed to this game. I’m looking forward to the experience.”