Hit ‘n Run
Maple Leafs fire GM Brian Burke
TORONTO — The Maple Leafs have stunned the hockey world by axing their GM just days before the opening of training camp and the NHL’s lockout-shortened season.
Saying the change in leadership was about looking for “a different voice,” rather than a change in team philosophy, MLSE president Tom Anselmi said the decision was months in the making and followed an exhaustive review by the new ownership group.
“The news is coming as a shock but the decision didn’t happen overnight,” he said.
Conversations about Burke’s future in Toronto appear to have begun as soon as Bell and Rogers formalized their $1.07 billion purchase of a 75 percent stake in MLSE from the Teacher’s Pension Plan on Aug 22.
It was suggested at Wednesday’s press conference that MLSE’s new leadership simply didn’t like Burke’s aggressive style and persona.
“Brian had a style and we knew what we were getting into when he was brought in,” Anselmi said before adding that there are now “sober second thoughts” on Burke’s tenure.
“Did the four years of missing the playoffs factor into the discussion with the shareholders? Sure it did . . . but at the end of the day it was really looking for a different voice.”
Burke will be replaced by Dave Nonis, his assistant and long-time protégé, on an interim basis. Nonis, 46, also replaced Burke nine years ago to become general manager of the Vancouver Canucks following an ownership change in that organization.
“It’s a shock for a lot of people,” Nonis said. “(But) we’re not going to spend a lot of time grieving . . . we have things to do.”
Anselmi said Burke’s firing had nothing to do with rumours of a potential trade with the Vancouver Canucks for goalie Roberto Luongo.
But that didn’t stop Mayor Rob Ford from speculating. Ford told the Toronto Sun he thinks Burke’s inability to pull the trigger on a Luongo deal played “a big factor” in the GM’s firing
Canada loses world junior bronze to Russia in OT
UFA, RUSSIA — Canada's run of consecutive medals at the world junior hockey championship ended with a 6-5 loss in overtime to Russia in the bronze-medal game Jan 5.
It was the first time since finishing a worst-ever eighth in 1998 in Finland that Canada didn't win a medal in the tournament.
Valerie Nichushkin scored the overtime winner at 1:35 in front of 7,617 at the Ufa Arena.
The U.S. beat the defending champions from Sweden by a score of 3-1 in the gold medal final.
After 14 straight years of Canadians leaving the tournament with medals around their necks, "unacceptable" was the first word out of these players' mouths post-game.
"Fourth place for Canada is unacceptable," coach Steve Spott concurred. "Unfortunately that's something we're going to have to deal with and we're all going to have to answer questions too.
"Today was a tough game. I thought our players played extremely hard, but at the end of the day when you look at the big picture, the end result is unacceptable for our country."
Canada finished first in their pool with a 4-0 record only to lose to two countries they'd beaten in the preliminary round. The U.S. defeated Canada 5-1 in the semifinal.
Canada had the best 19-year-olds available to the team for this tournament because of the NHL lockout, minus a forward and a defenceman lost to injury prior to the tournament.
Russia was motivated for a medal because their country was hosting the tournament for the first time since 2001.
The Russians put Canada in a hole early with three goals on their first five shots. Jordan Binnington of the Owen Sound Attack made his first start of the tournament and was pulled at 7:54 for Malcolm Subban of Belleville Bulls.
The Canadians gave chase, tying the game three times to send it to extra time. They scored four power-play goals before Ritchie tied the game at 10:45 of the third.
Nail Yakupov scored twice for the host team, which also got goals from Alexander Khokhlachyov, Kirill Dyakov and Yevgeni Mozer.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jonathan Huberdeau, Mark Scheifele, Ryan Murphy and Brett Ritchie replied for Canada. Nugent-Hopkins, who plays for the NHL's Edmonton Oilers, had three assists and Murphy had two.
Russian goaltender Andrei Makarov, who plays for the Western Hockey League's Saskatoon Blades, made 40 saves for the win. Subban stopped 18 of 20 shots in relief of Binnington.
Canada was without defenceman Griffin Reinhart, who served the first of a four-game suspension given to him Friday by the International Ice Hockey Federation for high-sticking an American during the semifinal.
Vancouver police seeking charges against 40 more June 11 rioters
VANCOUVER — A Vancouver Provincial Court judge sentenced three Stanley Cup rioters Dec 21, as Vancouver police announced a new round of riot-related charges against another 40 people.
Two rioters received conditional sentences for their actions around a Blenz Coffee store on June 15, 2011.
Chelsea Andrews, of Surrey, B.C., received a three-month conditional sentence and must perform 100 hours of community service.
Eric Hodson, of Langley, B.C., was handed a six-month conditional sentence. Both have been banned from any Blenz Coffee location in B.C. for one year.
Another rioter, Willmar Ovando-Renderos, was sentenced to 45 days, to be served on weekends starting immediately.
His family was shocked at the sentence and was quick to defend the Surrey, B.C., man outside the courthouse.
The case loads are expected to increase further now that Vancouver police have recommended 168 more charges against another 40 people in connection with the June 2011 riot.
"I hope that news of more rioters facing charges brings a small measure of comfort to victims of the riot," said Insp. Laurence Rankin.
The department has now recommended 1,040 charges against a total of 315 people.
The charges include mischief, assault and arson resulting from the mayhem that included cars being set on fire, stores being looted and windows broken. Police say they are still receiving tips, including video and photos from the riot, and some have come from suspected rioters' family members.
Sundin, Sakic, Oates, Bure get Hockey Hall of Fame rings
TORONTO — Former NHL forwards Joe Sakic, Mats Sundin, Adam Oates and Pavel Bure were honoured at the Hockey Hall of Fame on Nov 12 as the hockey shrine welcomed its Class of 2012.
Sporting new blazers as honoured members of the Hall, the quartet received their rings at a press conference.
A formal induction ceremony was held later in the day.
Sakic and Sundin, who began their careers as teammates in Quebec City, were selected in their first year of eligibility. Oates and Bure got in after waits of five and six years, respectively.
Between them, the four new members scored 1,967 regular-season goals and added 3,786 assists.
Sakic spent his entire 20-year NHL career with the Nordiques-Colorado Avalanche franchise and served as team captain for 17 seasons. He scored 50 goals twice and had six 100-point seasons.
Sundin was a big, rangy centre who dominated the area around the net. The native of Bromma, Sweden made his name mostly as captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
He never won a Stanley Cup but was captain of Sweden's 2006 Olympic gold medal squad. He was also the first Swedish player to earn 1,000 NHL points.
Oates had 341 goals and recorded 1,079 assists — good for sixth on the NHL's all-time list — in 19 seasons with seven teams.
Bure, a right-winger known as the Russian Rocket, could pull fans from their seats with his spectacular high-speed rushes up the ice for Vancouver and Florida.
The Moscow native defected from the former Soviet Union to join the Canucks in 1991 and won the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year. He became one of the most exciting goal-scorers of his time with 437 goals and 342 assists over 11 seasons with the Canucks, Panthers and New York Rangers.
He had back-to-back 60-goal seasons in the early 1990s and had five seasons of 50-plus goals.
Bure joins fellows Russians Viacheslav Fetisov, Vladislav Tretiak, Igor Larionov and Valeri Kharlamov in the Hall.
Sundin is the second Swede to be inducted. The first was another Toronto great, defenceman Borje Salming.