The Dump & Chase: Burke vs. Simmons

When Brian Burke accepted an invitation to visit Canadian troops in Kandahar, Afghanistan on July 1st he had to have known that there’d be some backlash. And backlash would rear its head in the form of Sun Media’s Steve Simmons playing voice box for the meathead faction of Toronto Maple Leafs fans when he took to criticizing Burke’s absence on the first day of NHL free agency. Burke unleashed some backlash of his own on Simmons late Monday when he fired back at the columnist, saying he was “deeply offended” by his comments.

Simmons became the bad guy in this spat the second he opened his mouth and uttered the words “troops” and “Kandahar”, even if he wasn’t directly critical of the nature of Burke’s overseas visit, but rather the timing of it. Simmons was adamant Burke should have been in the room for the Leafs’ chance to pitch to Brad Richards on Canada Day, as though his mere presence would have helped secure the heavily sought after UFA whom we all knew was on his way to New York with Glen $ather. If Burke was going to be the difference in the Leafs’ pursuit of Richards then it would have been to the tune of some $75 million and a term in the range of 11-15 years… nothing about that exactly bleeds Brian Burke.

The problem that Simmons has created for himself here is that he’s managed to come off as insensitive or maybe even anti-troops. That’s not really the case, though. Had Burke took the day to visit the Shriners then he’d have had the entire hockey media sphere questioning his priorities, and we’d all be laughing at clips of him rocking a fez. Instead, Simmons echoes the sentiments of a bunch of dipshits, the same dipshits that probably criticize Burke for apparently favouring American born hockey players. Sure, had his visit been set for June 27th or July 5th then Simmons probably would have had no choice other than to keep his mouth shut or applaud him. Burke is an American, he was visiting Canadian troops on Canada Day – it was a noble and patriotic thing to do as the general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs or any other team for that matter.

The most glaring mistake in all of this was Simmons actually believing that Burke could have played difference maker in negotiations with a guy who likely had very little intention of becoming a Toronto Maple Leaf, and the columnist’s subsequent shortsighted rant on the matter. The cynic will say that Simmons’ job is to sell newspapers, and that he probably did by creating this maelstrom. It was impossible task for Simmons to publicly question the optics surrounding Burke’s absence without coming across as a complete asshole because it was in support of the armed forces.

Simmons wasn’t wrong to criticize Burke, just stupid.

Report: Stamkos and Lightning close on deal

Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos tweets:

Mike McKenna on Ed Belfour

Former Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender and current member of the New Jersey Devils’ system Mike McKenna reflects on the career of Ed Belfour for InGoalMag:

He was the first goaltender I saw shoot a puck high around the glass in warm-ups; probably sending a half-dozen biscuits in either direction during the session. This was a revelation; I’d seen Hextall shoot and score, but never before had I witnessed the curvature of the glass effectively utilized to beat the first forechecker and jumpstart a team’s breakout. Eddie possessed a strong forehand and could clear the zone with ease, something he often did during games. Additionally, Belfour – along with Joseph – helped popularize the paddle-down save selection, taking it from a desperation move to a preventative method of sealing the ice.

As his career progressed, so did his style in net, eventually gravitating towards a patient yet effective half-butterfly style rooted in conservative movements in and around the crease. He ditched low and wide in favor of a more upright and mid-width stance, partly because of back problems that had developed around the mid-point of his career. Whereas some goalies would have remained steadfast in their stylistic tendencies, Belfour proactively altered his game to fit his body.

In doing so, he became a more patient and consistent goaltender, leading the Dallas Stars to a Stanley Cup.

Oilers re-sign Peckham, ink two more

JW on the Oilers bringing back Theo Peckham, as well as a pair of UFA signings in Yann Danis and Ryan Keller.

Down Goes Brown: Behind the scenes of the Brad Richards bidding war

Predictably hilarious stuff from DGB:

7:49 pm – Richards reminds the bidders that his top priority is to win a championship and that’s why he’s invited four teams that have combined for two Stanley Cups in the last 40 years, before pausing and adding “Wait, that made way more sense before I heard myself say it out loud”.

Nation blogs launch JetsNation

What took you so long? No seriously, the good people at the Nation family of blogs have you covered for all things Winnipeg Jets.

OttawaGh0st’s overly long take on the Heatley trade