Brian Burke

Brian Burke wants to make the Leafs better – now


Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke went on Fan 590 with Bob McCown and Damien Cox on Wednesday and – as usual – didn’t just trot out the same old cliches. Instead, he provided a very frank state of his team (as well as some hilarious critiques of Sports Illustrated), and the general takeaway is that he’s itching to make a trade.

When the radio hosts asked Burke if he’s done making deals, Burke said this:

“My answer is no. If I can improve this team tomorrow I’ll make a deal tomorrow that improves it.”

The January guy

Burke admitted that he’s a “January guy,” as he made many of his biggest moves – including acquiring Dion Phaneuf via a big trade – well before the trade deadline rolled around.

“(General managers) make more mistakes at the deadline and on July 1 then during the rest of the year. The math doesn’t work at the deadline … I’ve never been a big deadline guy.”

OK, so we’ve established that he wants to make a deal and would prefer to do so sooner rather than later. The biggest question is, what will Burke’s biggest focus be: the present or the future?

“It depends. If I could get a kid that I really believe was going to be special, I always do that unless I thought we thought we were going to have a parade … we’re looking to add and get better now.”

What Burke wants and doesn’t want

Burke admitted that “Age group asset trades” are a possibility, which means he’d be interested in trading a 22-year-old player with another 22-year-old with a different skill set. Perhaps most interestingly, Burke would also be willing than to move a first-round pick for a guy who can help him this season (and most importantly, the playoffs).

One thing Burke won’t be looking for is a veteran goalie, though, as he provided effusive praise of Jonas Gustavsson’s surprising recent run of play.

So which trades could come true?

Looking into the latest rumors, it would seem like the Luke Schenn to Philadelphia talk might not hold much weight but that Ryan Getzlaf stuff could make some sense.

That doesn’t mean he’s moments away from pulling the trigger on that or any other deal, but Burkie’s latest interview is basically a colorful way of saying: “Go ahead and make up random trade ideas in the comments and on random message boards.”

Alexei Emelin was ejected for this hit on Matt Calvert

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Alexei Emelin has been in and out of the Montreal Canadiens lineup, but this wasn’t the way they wanted him to keep his legs fresh.

The hard-hitting defenseman received a game misconduct and five-minute major penalty for a late hit on Columbus Blue Jackets forward Matt Calvert on Tuesday.

So far, it sounds like Calvert may be OK.

You can see video of that hit above, as well as a GIF of the infraction via My Regular Face.

Many believe that Emelin should not have been ejected.

Injuries continue to dog Lupul as Leafs place him on IR

Joffrey Lupul
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Injuries have been a regular problem for Joffrey Lupul for much of his time with the Toronto Maple Leafs, and it doesn’t look like that’s changing in 2015-16.

The team placed him on injured reserve retroactive to Nov. 28, calling up Rich Clune in the process.

This IR stint means that Lupul will miss at least three games for Toronto.

From the sound of things, it’s a nagging issue, as notes.

“He’s been having the same problem here for a bit,” Mike Babcock told media members on Sunday. “He doesn’t seem to be getting the power back that they thought, so we’re just trying to monitor it the best we can.”

Leafs Nation points out that Lupul has missed about one-third of Toronto’s contests since suffering a separated shoulder in April 2012.

At 32, there’s still time for Lupul to fight through this, although injuries generally accumulate with age.

WATCH LIVE: Wild at Blackhawks; Penguins at Sharks

Scott Darling, Charlie Coyle
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Will Ryan Suter say something foolish during tonight’s game? Is Brent Burns‘ beard so long that it’s finally starting to scrape the ice?

We’ll find out the answer to those questions and more during Tuesday’s NBCSN doubleheader.

Need to follow the two games online? Never fear.

Game 1: Minnesota Wild at Chicago Blackhawks


Game 2: Pittsburgh Penguins at San Jose Sharks


Bolland back in, Bjugstad out with injury for Panthers

Evgeny Medvedev, Nick Bjugstad
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Message sent or not via healthy scratches or not, Dave Bolland returns to the Florida Panthers mix on Tuesday.

Unfortunately for the Panthers, it’s maybe not under the most ideal circumstances, as part of the explanation for his return is Nick Bjugstad‘s absence.

The Miami Herald’s George Richards reports that Bjugstad is out tonight against the St. Louis Blues with an upper-body injury that he suffered during a Monday practice.

In fact, as you can see in the tweet above, the young forward was sent home because of the injury.

This forces some shuffling, with Vincent Trocheck moving up to the second line while Bolland centers the third combo as usual.

The Panthers are currently on a two-game winning streak and visit St. Louis as the second date in a five-game road trip.

This is also the early part of a span in which they play nine of 10 games on the road (counting Sunday’s away win), so a prolonged absence from Bjugstad could sting that much more.