Leafs GM stays busy

Toronto Maple Leafs GM Cliff Fletcher is not waiting for Brian Burke to sign with the team; he is still making significant roster changes.

The team announced yesterday that defenceman Carlo Colaiacovo and forward Alex Steen were traded to the St. Louis Blues for forward Lee Stempniak.

Leafs nation has spent the last 6 months getting used to long-time players leaving town. There are now 11 players on the roster that played elsewhere just one year ago.

I have to admit that I like the direction this team is taking. They certainly aren’t going to be an overnight success, but I see this move – and other moves made this year – as a move in the right direction.

Apparently Stempniak thinks so too.

“This has been easier than I thought it would be,” said Stempniak. “I spent four years in St. Louis and enjoyed my time there, (but) it quickly went to excitement to come here, a team that’s going in the right direction and a great organization.
“Everything that comes with playing in Toronto – it’s the capital of the hockey world and who wouldn’t want to play here?”

Bruins spoil St. Patrick’s Day in Montreal

The Boston Bruins have been one of the best teams in the NHL as of late, and they continued their dominance as they won their ninth game in 10 on Saturday against the Montreal Canadiens.

The sellout crowd was none too happy with the end result. The evening began with a party, as the Habs retired Patrick Roy’s number 33, but the fans left disappointed as Boston goalie Tim Thomas stopped all three shootout attempts to give his team the 3-2 win.

Milan Lucic was the target of choice for the fans and for Georges Laraque. The young Bruin fought Montreal defenceman Mike Komisarek on November 13th, leaving the latter with a suspected shoulder injury. Habs coach Guy Carbonneau decided to match Laraque’s line with Lucic’s on Saturday, and the former Penguin enforcer spent the evening trying to goad Lucic to fight, but the forward did not bite.

Carbonneau felt as though his tactics worked, seeing as Lucic only scored when he was not matched against Laraque.

“I think it had an effect on Lucic, I don’t think he was as involved as he was in Boston,” Carbonneau said. “There’s more games to come, we’ll see how he keeps playing. But he was a lot quieter tonight than he was in Boston.”

Carbonneau was right about one thing: there are more games to come this season. I have a feeling the Habs-Bruins games will be fun to watch this year, especially as they battle for first place in the division.

Lightning add old face to new coaching staff

Mike Sullivan has rejoined the Tampa Bay Lightning as an assistant coach under interim coach Rick Tocchet. He was an assistant coach with the Lightning last season, but this is a whole new team.

GM Brian Lawton made a fairly generic statement regarding Sullivan’s hiring:

“We are excited to add Mike to our coaching staff,” he said. “He’s been here and knows the players well, and he’s an upgrade to the overall quality of our coaching. Mike is highly respected throughout the league and has been successful as a head coach at the NHL, AHL and international levels.”

I wonder who the Lightning will add to the mix next week. Maybe a defenceman?

Zednik out with arm injury

You have to feel bad for Florida’s Richard Zednik. He missed the last 24 games of the 2007-08 season when his neck was accidentally slashed by then-teammate Olli Jokinen’s skate. Now, he is out of the lineup with an arm injury and it doesn’t look as though he will return anytime soon.

‘‘It looks fairly long term, weeks anyway,’‘ said coach Pete DeBoer.