Leafs president Richard Peddie making big predictions, wants Stanley Cup ring… somehow


This is the sort of story where haters of the Toronto Maple Leafs are going to get a big laugh and work on their most snarky way of saying, “Good luck with that.”

Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment president and CEO Richard Peddie has a special deal worked out in his retirement plan. With Peddie retiring at the end of the calendar year and after a history of running the Maple Leafs without the team winning a Stanley Cup, he wants to make sure he can get something to remember his days with the Leafs by on the chance they win it all.

Peddie has it set up so he’ll receive a Stanley Cup ring if the Leafs win it all after his retirement. The catch with this deal is that the Leafs have to win it all in the next three years to give him some hardware. The Toronto Sun’s Lance Hornby gets the details from Peddie.

“My retirement agreement is that I get a ring if we do it in the next three years,” Peddie said on Saturday, adding with a laugh “the next guy is going to get all the credit and get his name on the Cup. Which is cool, because I think hockey is the only sport where the suits get their name on the trophy.

“I’m down to 17 weeks to go, but who’s counting? It has been a lot of fun and we’ve done a lot of good things, even though we haven’t won. I feel really good about our four teams, Aron (Winter’s) makevover of TFC and I love what Dallas Eakins is doing with the Marlies. Brian Burke (Leafs) and Bryan Colangelo (Raptors) have some good quality players. I just wish they would have won while I was here. But I’m sure our fans are going to see some winners.”

Peddie is so sure that Toronto is going to see some winners that he’s making a big prediction for the Leafs for this season. Peddie tells Steve Buffery of the Toronto Sun that the Leafs are going to do something they haven’t done since 2003-2004.

Okay, let’s get this out of the way: Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. President Richard Peddie guarantees that the Leafs will make the playoffs this season.

“Absolutely,” Peddie said, when asked if he was certain about his prediction. “But I guess Burkie’s going to kill me now.”

At the very least Brian Burke will grumble at him and say something snarky. I guess that makes Burke the blogger of team executives. At least he doesn’t live in his mom’s basement, right? After all, it’s not as if Peddie is going to be around at the end of this season to face up to his prediction so you might as well go out thinking highly and leaving some of the fans feeling beyond hopeful.

Scary part here though is that he might be right. Adding Cody Franson and Matt Lombardi from Nashville could turn out to be a huge acquisition. Franson will help the Leafs blue line and their offensive production right away while Lombardi is aiming to be back this year after missing almost all of last season with a concussion. If Lombardi can come back and produce offensively the way he’s capable, the Leafs offense is a lot deeper. Throwing him in there with Phil Kessel and Nikolai Kulemin to go along with Mikhail Grabovski and Tim Connolly and the Leafs could be a threat to crack the top eight in the Eastern Conference.

Of course, the fact that Peddie gets a Stanley Cup ring if the Leafs win it all in the next three seasons makes this a bit more amusing. With the Leafs having missed the playoffs of the last seven seasons and often looking really bad in losing, the jokes are there to be made. That said, if Burke can get the Leafs turned around soon, Leafs fans might be all right with Peddie getting one more piece of jewelry to send him on his way.

Niemi blanks Pens, notches two assists in Stars debut

Antti Niemi, Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist

DALLAS (AP) — Antti Niemi recorded his 33rd career shutout and assisted on two goals in his Dallas debut, as the Stars beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 on Thursday night in the season opener for both.

Ales Hemsky had a power-play goal and an assist.

Rookie Matthias Janmark scored on his first shot on his first shift in an NHL game to make it 1-0. The Stars acquired Niemi and Janmark in trades earlier this year.

Dallas scored on two of five power plays. Jamie Benn, the NHL’s leading scorer last season, had a power-play goal in the third period.

Niemi made 37 saves to improve his career record against the Penguins to 5-1-1. He withstood a flurry in the final minute after Pittsburgh pulled goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for an extra skater.

Fleury had 21 saves.

The Stars are 4-0-1 in their last five home games against Pittsburgh, and have won three in a row overall.

Janmark skated down the slot, took a pass from Hemsky and shot between Fleury’s legs at 1:39 of the first.

The Penguins dominated the latter half of the period, but couldn’t score. Niemi’s best stop was a reaching glove save of Rod Scuderi’s drive from the blue line with less than 3 minutes remaining. Pittsburgh outshot the Stars 10-4 in the first.

Hemsky scored at 5:42 of the second on Dallas’ first power play. His shot from the top of the right faceoff circle went in over Fleury’s right shoulder.

The Penguins again had an advantage in shots, 13-11. Pittsburgh had chances in close, but Niemi turned those away. Midway through the second, John Klingberg cleared away a loose puck from in front of the net.

Seven seconds into the Stars’ fourth power play of the third period, Jamie Benn tipped in Jason Spezza‘s shot from the right point.

NOTES: Dallas acquired Janmark as part of a March trade that sent Erik Cole to Detroit. The rookie had been playing in the Swedish Hockey League. . San Jose traded Niemi’s rights to the Stars in June for a seventh-round draft pick. Also making their Dallas debuts were LW Patrick Sharp and D Johnny Oduya, teammates with Chicago’s Stanley Cup champions last season. . In his first game for the Penguins, Phil Kessel played in his 447th straight game. . Pittsburgh was 0 for 3 on the power play.

Fabbri’s first spoils McDavid’s debut as Blues down Oilers

Robby Fabbri, Justin Schultz
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ST. LOUIS (AP) — Rookie Robby Fabbri scored the tiebreaking goal midway through the third period to help the St. Louis Blues beat Edmonton 3-1 Thursday night, spoiling Oilers rookie Connor McDavid‘s NHL debut.

Vladimir Tarasenko had the tying goal for the Blues near the midpoint of the second period, and Troy Brouwer added an empty-netter with 18 seconds remaining in the third. Brian Elliott finished with 23 saves.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored in the first period for Edmonton and Cam Talbot had 28 saves.

McDavid, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, took 22 shifts, played 18:07 and was on the ice for Brouwer’s goal. He had two shots on goal, and struggled on faceoffs – winning only three of 13.

Fabbri, a 19-year-old forward — and McDavid’s childhood friend — was also playing in his first NHL game. The Blues’ first-round pick in 2014 was one of three rookies in the St. Louis lineup, joining defensemen Colton Parayko and Joel Edmundson.

Nugent-Hopkins gave the Oilers a 1-0 lead late in the first period with a fluke power-play goal. He lost a face-off but when Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo tried to clear the puck it bounced off Alexander Steen and past Brian Elliott. Nugent-Hopkins was credited with the unassisted power-play goal with 2:38 remaining in the period.

Tarasenko tied it a 9:10 of the second after getting loose on a breakaway with a stretch pass from Alex Pietrangelo and beating Talbot through his legs.

Tarasenko, who signed an eight-year, $60 million extension in the offseason, was the last Blues player to score in his debut.

NOTES: McDavid and F Anton Slepyshev made their NHL debuts for the Oilers. … St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina dropped the ceremonial first puck. … The attendance was announced as standing room-only 19,327.