Leafs pull off trade, even with Burke waiting in wings

November, 24, 2008
Negotiations continue between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Brian Burke's lawyer to make him the team's next general manager, but a planned trip to Toronto on Monday was canceled.

Burke, his wife, Jennifer, and their two young kids arrived in Boston on Sunday only to find their home had a broken furnace. I know the feeling -- had that happen here two winters ago. You don't want a broken furnace in Canada!

In any case, Burke had hoped to come up here for the funeral of the father of Chicago Blackhawks GM Dale Tallon, but the furnace issues kept him in Boston. Of course, any mention of Burke's coming to Toronto was enough to warrant lots of media attention here.

"The purpose for my trip to Toronto was to attend Mr. Tallon's funeral, not for any other purpose," Burke told ESPN.com on Monday. "We had some domestic engineering issues that negated that trip. So, we're staying in Boston through the U.S. holiday."

In the meantime, the Leafs' current GM, Cliff Fletcher, made a noteworthy deal Monday, acquiring Lee Stempniak from the St. Louis Blues in exchange for forward Alexander Steen and blueliner Carlo Colaiacovo.

It's interesting that Fletcher would still be able to make such a move even though Burke could be hired any day now. It wouldn't be unusual for Burke to be asked about a deal before it happened, as those kinds of conversations often take place between NHL managers, but Burke told us the deal didn't have to go through him.

"No trade requires my consent, assent or even disclosure to me," Burke told ESPN.com after the deal was announced. "I remain in the employ of the Ducks."

As for the deal, Stempniak has the most upside offensively, although with the long list of injuries in St. Louis, the Blues get some much-needed depth.

Colaiacovo has never been able to stay healthy long enough to live up to his first-round draft pick potential, but this is a worthy gamble for St. Louis. Puck-moving defensemen are a valuable commodity, and if Colaiacovo ever manages to figure it out, this deal could help both teams.

Pierre LeBrun

ESPN Senior Writer



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