Maple Leafs acquire defenseman John-Michael Liles from Avalanche for second rounder

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Boston Bruins fans might laugh at this notion, but many believed that the Toronto Maple Leafs’ power play suffered after the team traded Tomas Kaberle. Leafs GM Brian Burke targeted Colorado Avalanche defenseman John Michael-Liles to replace some of Kaberle’s offense during the trade deadline, but the Avs wouldn’t budge.

Burke got his man today, though. The Maple Leafs sent their 2012 second round pick to Colorado for Liles.

Liles’ occasional defensive lapses made him a scapegoat from time to time in Colorado, but people often overlooked his offensive talent. He rode a red-hot start to the 2010-11 season to a six-goal, 46-point campaign. That’s the second best total of his seven-year career (he scored 49 points in 05-06) and he never totaled less than 31 points in any season.

Liles has one season left on his contract, with a $4.2 million salary cap hit that is remarkably similar to Kaberle’s former mark of $4.25 million. That’s not to say that the two defensemen are carbon copies, though; Liles sports a more deadly shot and blazing speed while Kaberle gets most of his points because of deft passing and offensive instincts.

Either way, it seems like a great deal for Toronto and a seemingly inevitable one for the Avalanche. Colorado lost two offensive defensemen in the last few months as the Avs shipped Kevin Shattenkirk to St. Louis as part of the Erik Johnson-Chris Stewart deal. Hopefully it’s not time to kiss Colorado’s thrilling and wide-open system goodbye, but losing a trigger like Liles won’t help.

While the Maple Leafs might get the best of this trade, it does leave them with an awfully expensive blueline. Liles ($4.2 million), Dion Phaneuf ($6.5 million) and Mike Komisarek ($4.5 million) take up $15.2 million of cap space and Toronto needs to re-sign restricted free agent defenseman Luke Schenn as well. That being said, if Liles’ sometimes-explosive offensive abilities give Toronto enough of a boost to make the playoffs, people won’t complain so much about their pricey defense.

Milbury, Jones: Tkachuk walked the walk; Kings’ response was embarrassing

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The Los Angeles Kings got revenge on Matthew Tkachuk and the Calgary Flames on the scoreboard on Wednesday. But was that 4-1 win enough?

Mike Milbury and Keith Jones provided a lengthy “overtime” segment on NBCSN that brought about some really fascinating takes on the situation between Tkachuk and the Flames versus Drew Doughty and the Los Angeles Kings.

Watch the full video above, as it’s worth your time.

A few interesting lines if you’re (tsk tsk) skipping it:

Milbury: Believes that Doughty didn’t “do enough,” noting that star players sometimes have to stick up for themselves. On the other hand, Tkachuk showed that he can “walk the walk.”

He also gave the Kings a “C-, D+ if not worse” for their overall response. “Fight your own battles,” Milbury said of Doughty.

Jones disagreed to some extent, believing that Kings teammates won’t look at Doughty differently. But Jake Muzzin? He believes that Muzzin’s frequent defensive partner (at least over the years, maybe not this season) backing down from a fight was an embarrassment.

Spicy stuff.

For what it’s worth, Drew Doughty has one career fight (against Joe Thornton [!] in 2011-2) while Jake Muzzin’s lone bout came against Andrew Desjardins in 2012-13, according to Hockey Fights. Does that mean they shouldn’t have dropped the gloves on Wednesday? Milbury and Jones seem to believe that they should have answered the bell.

For more, check out a collection of the early violent moments and Tkachuk’s attempted shot at Doughty. The Kings win is summarized in greater detail here.

Measure of revenge: Kings delay clinching efforts for Flames, Blues

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Deep down, the Los Angeles Kings probably realize that their season will end on game 82. Still, they kept their slim playoff hopes alive on Wednesday night … and managed to spite a team they’re growing to hate.

OK, maybe the hate is almost totally focused upon Matthew Tkachuk, yet the disdain for that talented-but-tormenting rookie was palpable.

It didn’t feel like the Kings exacted physical revenge on Tkachuk, but beating his team 4-1 ranked as classic scoreboard vengeance. With that, the Calgary Flames (and by extension the St. Louis Blues) will need to wait to clinch a playoff berth.

Now, as much as tonight was about Tkachuk, the focus was also on a pugnacious player who once dazzled for the Flames: Jarome Iginla.

In what might be Iginla’s final visit to Calgary – at least as an active NHL player – he was one of the best players on the ice. His fitting curtain call included a “Gordie Howe hat trick” with a spirited fight, an assist and a goal.

Seriously, that fight with Deryk Engelland:

That goal included a bit of luck, but hey …

Iginla was named the first star of the contest, and cameras captured his big smile in enjoying a special night. For all the nastiness of that game, it was refreshing to see such a heartwarming moment.

For more on the violence, check out this post on the early stuff and this one on Tkachuk’s missed missile launch on Drew Doughty.

Kings and Canucks will square off in first NHL exhibition games in China

graphic via NHL
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It’s official: the NHL will hold preseason games in China before next season.

The league made the announcement on Wednesday night: the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks will play two exhibitions: one on Sept. 21 (Shanghai) and Sept. 23 (Beijing). How cool is that?

“It is a privilege and an honor for the L.A. Kings to represent the National Hockey League in China as part of these two games against the Vancouver Canucks,” Kings president Luc Robitaille said. “Growing the game of hockey is something we take great pride in and it is a big priority for our hockey club and AEG as a whole. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our players and our staff, and we are looking forward to the games taking place in two tremendous facilities in two remarkable cities.”

The press conference inspired some jokes tonight.

Some of the best bits came in roping in … Kobe Bryant and David Beckham?

Alrighty then.

Click here for more details.

 

Video: Drew Doughty (mostly) avoids massive Matthew Tkachuk hit

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Hockey is such a fast sport that it’s probably not so easy to make someone your “target.” Instead, a big hit often comes down to the right combination of circumstance and timing.

Still, there’s no denying that Matthew Tkachuk is gunning for Drew Doughty (and the Kings are gunning for Tkachuk) on Wednesday.

Doughty isn’t oblivious to that notion, either, as you can see him avoid what looked like a pretty terrifying hit above.

We’ve already covered the early violence in this game, and it’s quite possible that there will be more carnage going forward. Stay tuned.