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Brian Burke clears up ‘misinformation’ in post-trade presser 02.19.11 at 3:55 am ET
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Great stuff from Brian Burke‘s presser on Friday. The Maple Leafs general manager went out of his way to clear up what he called “misinformation” this week surrounding the dealings between he and Tomas Kaberle‘s camp. Here’s what he had to say (video below):

“The player did not want to leave. I want to be clear on that. He asked for an extension several times, and I didn’t feel we were in a position to meet what I thought his demands would be. I said to him, ‘You’ve got to work with us to get something if you want to, and if not we’ll go from there.’

“He came back and he said that he would like us to start with the Boston Bruins. I said, ‘OK, that makes sense. We’ll try to get [Kaberle] there, but we’re not accepting a one team list from any agent or any player. We set our price, which was a first-round pick and a prospect off our list, not their list. I said, ‘If Boston meets that, we’ll make the deal, and if they don’t, we want two more teams. And if we [can't make it work with those teams], we want two more teams after that.’”

Here’s Burke talking about his team’s chances of still making the playoffs, and why he didn’t feel it was worth keeping Kaberle if it meant they’d be a No. 8 seed and get their rears kicked in the first round. It’s clearly not something he wants to talk about at length, as the second video shows.

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Burke: Lot of fiction in Kaberle reports 02.17.11 at 7:56 pm ET
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Nobody’s ever accused Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke of being shy. That’s why it isn’t a surprise that in the same week he said the Leafs weren’t done dealing, he took the opportunity to deny premature reports that he was “close” to trading Tomas Kaberle to Boston.

Burke said on NHL Live! Thursday that he has discussed deals involving Kaberle, a free agent-to-be whose current contract includes a no-trade clause, with multiple teams. He said he didn’t have a deal with Boston, and that the Bruins aren’t the only team Kaberle would accept a trade to.

“That’s not accurate. And I wouldn’t accept those terms,” Burke said. “That’s not fair to us. If those were the conditions I would tell the agent ‘no.’ That’s not acceptable. That’s not true. It’s not true that the deal is done with Boston. None of that is true. We continue to talk to multiple teams and we’ll see where it goes.”

Below is video of Burke’s interview:

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Report: Kaberle grants Leafs permission to only talk with Bruins 02.15.11 at 5:14 pm ET
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According to Sportsnet.ca, Maple Leafs defenseman Tomas Kaberle would be willing to accept a trade to the Bruins. In fact, Sportsnet is reporting that the defenseman, who has a no trade clause in his contract, has granted the Maple Leafs permission to discuss a deal with only Boston.

Additionally, The Fourth Period’s David Pagnotta has tweeted the talks between the two teams do not involve the Bruins sending the Maple Leafs’ first-round pick, acquired in the Phil Kessel trade, back to Toronto.

Kaberle will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli told WEEI.com last month that the Bruins were interested in adding a defenseman who could log substantial minutes. Kaberle, who has three goals and 33 assists for 36 points, has averaged 22:34 of ice time this season.

The Maple Leafs traded forward Kris Versteeg to the Flyers on Monday night, with Toronto general manager Brian Burke saying “we’re not done yet.”

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Brian Burke: Leafs ‘not done’ dealing at 2:00 pm ET
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What Brian Burke does leading up to the trade deadline will impact the Bruins. (AP)

Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke spoke Tuesday about his team’s recent activity and what Toronto’s plan is going forward. All of that is directly tied to the Bruins, as the B’s have the Leafs’ first-round draft pick this year from the Phil Kessel trade.

The Leafs traded former Bruins prospect Kris Versteeg to the Flyers on Monday night in exchange for first-and-third-round draft picks. Unsurprisingly, Burke, who willingly traded three picks — two of which were first-rounders — to the B’s in the Kessel deal, is not set on keeping the Flyers’ compensation.

“We put the third-round pick in play last night,” he said. “As soon as we had it, we put it in play to try to get a forward back. We’re not throwing in the towel here, and we’re not done yet, either.”

Asked whether the scouts are happy that he has 10 picks in the coming draft, Burke said the less picks he has on draft day, the happier he’ll be.

“We’re not going with 10 if I have my way. We’re going to try and do something with some of those picks,” he said. “Most draft picks, you don’t see the player for three years, and if we can do something shorter term, we’re going to do it.”

As for the decision to trade Versteeg when he did, Burke said that he likes to “get out in front of the trade deadline” before the “aisles become crowded.” He likened the days leading up to Feb. 28 to a “cattle stampede” and said he has heard that the Versteeg deal caused other teams to ramp up their efforts to get deals done.

“I know from talking to a couple other GMs that our trade set off a big surge of phone activity last night,” he said. “There’s only so many quality players available at the deadline, and I know there was a frantic response to this trade, but we’ve been busy on the phones now for a while.”

Perhaps the most interesting response from Burke came when he was asked about the decision to trade Versteeg. The team had acquired the winger in the offseason and he had 14 goals and 21 assists for 35 points.

“I remember when I was a rookie GM, I asked Harry Sinden back in ’92. I said, ‘Any advice?’ He said, ‘Yeah, when you get a player that’s not working out, fix it.’ Kris just didn’t mesh here,” Burke said. “It’s no fault of his. He’s a good player and he’s a good guy, and he worked hard. We felt this was a good price tag for him, and we made the trade.”

The Maple Leafs have 52 points on the season, which is the fifth-lowest total in the NHL.

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UPDATE: Burke says Leafs not in on Savard 06.28.10 at 4:17 pm ET
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Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke shot down speculation that the team is trying to make a deal with Boston to reunite Phil Kessel with current Bruins center Marc Savard.

“The rumor – what I read anyway – is that Boston is looking to move this player,” Burke told Fan 590 radio in Toronto. “We have some options presented to us over the weekend, trade wise, that do not involve this player (Savard) that we are looking at.”

Savard has been rumored to be on the block as of late. His contract includes a no-trade clause, but rumors have continued to swirl, including a report that he had waived the no-trade clause for a potential move to Toronto.

“Suffice it to say, the media are focused on one name,” Burke said. “And we are looking at multiple names – not including Marc Savard.”

Burke also stressed that he will not move defenseman Tomas Kaberle “unless we get exactly what we need as an upgrade at forward.” TSN first caught wind of Burke’s comments.

UPDATE: 5:54 — ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun has tweeted that a source in the Leafs organization has told him the team has not “ever” spoken to the Bruins about Savard.

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US Olympic roster to be announced at Winter Classic 11.03.09 at 12:34 pm ET
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As expected, USA Hockey announced that they will reveal their 23-man US Olympic Team roster during the Jan. 1 NBC broadcast of the Bridgestone Winter Classic between the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers at Fenway Park. Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas was the only current B’s player invited to the Olympic orientation camp on Aug. 17-19 in Woodbridge, Ill., but is expected to get some stiff competition for starting goaltending honors with Sabres goalie Ryan Miller. Kings goalie Jonathan Quick and Avalanche goaltender Craig Anderson among others.

There are three goalie spots on the 23-man roster put together by Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke. The XXI Winter Olympic games set in Vancouver, B.C. will begin on Feb. 16 and wind up 12 days later with the gold medal game on Feb. 28 during a two-week break in the NHL season. Team USA will begin their schedule with a game against Team Switzerland on Feb. 16.

The U.S. roster will include 20 skaters and three goaltenders. It is expected that all 23 players will come from the NHL.  Ron Wilson, head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs, is the head coach of the 2010 U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team, with Scott Gordon, head coach of the New York Islanders, and John Tortorella, head coach of the New York Rangers, serving as assistant coaches.

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Kessel Traded To Leafs for draft picks 09.18.09 at 9:59 pm ET
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Phil Kessel finally has found a new home after a protracted summer of fruitless negotiations with the Bruins as a restricted free agent, and landed in Toronto as part of a much-discussed deal that sent three high draft picks back to Boston.  Late Friday night, the Bruins confirmed the deal, which had been reported as a done deal on both TSN and ESPN earlier in the evening. The Bruins scheduled a press conference for 11 a.m. Saturday at the TD Garden for Boston GM Peter Chiarelli to discuss the bold, but not unexpected, move.

The Spoked 'B' and Phil Kessel filed for divorce on Friday night when he was traded to the Maple Leafs

The Spoked 'B' and Phil Kessel filed for divorce on Friday night when he was traded to the Maple Leafs

The Bruins are set to receive Toronto’s first- and second-round draft pick in 2010, and the Leafs’ first-round pick in 2011. With only $1.7 million worth of room under the salary cap, there was a distinct limit on potential position players coming back to Boston in the deal — and in the end there wasn’t a single prospect or established player sent to the B’s in exchange for a 21-year-old sharpshooter that led the team with 36 goals scored last season.

TSN reported that Kessel agreed to a five-year, $27 million contract with the Maple Leafs, which amounts to $5.4 million per season in average salary and in a cap hit to the Maple Leafs. Kessel had denied that he was looking for a $5 million per season contract earlier this summer while speaking with reporters, but the youngster earned that and then some from Toronto GM Brian Burke. Amazingly, Kessel becomes the highest paid player with the biggest salary cap hit on a Maple Leafs team in desperate need of scoring — and makes nearly $1 million more per season than defenseman Mike Komisarek’s $4.5 million per season.

WEEI.com first reported the schism between Kessel and the Bruins in negotiations several weeks ago, and the young goal-scorer reportedly steered a trade to Toronto by refusing to entertain a contract with any of the other potential trading partners for the Bruins. The Nashville Predators publicly voiced interest in Kessel, but the young sniper was determined to find a landing spot for himself in Toronto.

The question now becomes how an introverted young hockey superstar, known to shun the spotlight, will deal with the heightened scrutiny and attention he’s sure to receive as the new face of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Kessel will be Toronto’s highest-paid player at $5.4 million per year, and — as such — will be labeled as the savior for a downtrodden hockey franchise looking to Burke for a way out of the Northeast Division cellar. Kessel has never dealt with the pressure of being “The Man” in a hockey-crazed environment like Toronto, and there are some legitimate questions how he’ll handle the added attention.

Both teams are rolling the dice here. The B’s are keeping the rest of their team intact amid salary cap limitations, and banking that Kessel will never become a game-changing 50-goal scorer with the Maple Leafs. If that happens, then the Bruins could regret the move for years to come. The Maple Leafs are gambling that the 21-year-old hockey wunderkind is just growing into his fast skating speed and deadly wrist shot, and Kessel will turn into the dynamic offensive force Toronto was missing on their roster. 

The 21-year-old winger led the Bruins last season with 36 goals, and he added 24 assists to total a career-high 60 points in 70 games. The return to full health of left wing Marco Sturm from left knee surgery along with continued offensive improvement for Blake Wheeler, Milan Lucic and David Krejci will off-set Kessel’s offensive productuon in the minds of B’s executives, but none of those players have the youngster’s set of scoring tools. His game-breaking ability can’t be duplicated by anybody else on the roster, and that’s certainly a factor that looms large if the B’s go through offensive struggles during the regular season.

Kessel was the team’s third-leading scorer in the playoffs, collecting six goals and five assists in 11 games. In fact, throughout his B’s career Kessel was a point-per-game player in the playoffs with 15 total points in 15 playoff games over the last two seasons. But the young forward clashed with B’s coach Claude Julien over his willingness to always play the kind of impassioned two-way hockey that the Bruins coach demands, and was benched for three games during the 2007-08 playoffs.

Kessel, drafted with the fifth overall pick in 2006 out of the University of Minnesota, ends his Bruins career with 126 points on 66 goals and 60 assists in 222 regular-season games.

Kessel, who had offseason rotator cuff and labrum surgery and is expected to be sidelined at least until November, overcame testicular cancer in 2006, his rookie season in the NHL. In 2007, the Wisconsin native was awarded the Masterton Trophy for perseverance and dedication to hockey. Kessel also missed 12 games with a bout of mononucleosis and the shoulder injury last season.

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