Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke is spending Thursday night on the streets of Toronto with just a sleeping bag and a piece of cardboard to raise funds and awareness about youth homelessness.
The charity’s he’s supporting, Covenant House, estimates there are 2,000 youth living outside on any given night in Toronto.
“It’s a real important cause in our city,” Burke said Wednesday on Sportsnet radio. “For one night we’ll face the conditions that face homeless youth in our city.”
Meanwhile, Burke is denying there’s a deal in place to acquire Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo once the lockout is over.
In October, Sportsnet’s John Shannon reported that a “reputable source” told him that Luongo would be traded to Toronto as soon as the NHL and NHLPA reach a new CBA.
Canucks GM Mike Gillis also denied the report.
Despite the denials, the deal does make sense. Toronto’s goaltending struggles have been well-documented, and if Tyler Bozak is available, the Canucks could be interested in acquiring his services to fill their third-line center opening.
Even if Don Cherry doesn’t think Luongo would want to go to Toronto.
Pavel Zacha was this close to making his NHL debut.
Just days prior to opening their season against the Jets, the Devils returned Zacha — the sixth overall pick at this year’s draft — back to his junior club in OHL Sarnia.
The move comes after Zacha, 18, impressed throughout training camp and the preseason. He appeared in four exhibition games for New Jersey, scoring one point while endearing himself to the organizational brass, coaching staff and players.
“He understands the game. He plays with a maturity. It’s crazy to think an 18-year-old coming out of high school is up here and playing with the maturity and understanding of the game with the new system,” Kyle Palmieri told NJ.com. “I think he’s got a lot of raw talent there as a power forward. He’s got the body for it, the puck-handling skills and the nose for the net.”
At 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, Zacha has the frame and physical stature to play at the NHL level, and looked the part for long stretches of the exhibition season, getting turns on New Jersey’s top line.
The decision to send him back to junior is probably the right one, however.
Zacha only turned 18 in April and has limited experience even at the OHL level; ’14-15 was his first year with Sarnia, though he did appear in 38 Czech League games (for Liberec) the season prior.
There’s another Raffl in the NHL.
On Tuesday, the Jets announced that Thomas Raffl — the older brother of Flyers forward Michael Raffl — has signed a one-year, one-way deal worth $575,000.
Raffl, 29, was in Winnipeg’s camp on a PTO after a lengthy career in Europe. He spent time playing in Sweden and his native Austria, most recently with powerhouse EC Red Bull Salzburg — last year, Raffl scored 53 points in 52 games for Salzburg and three in seven games for Austria while serving as team captain at the World Hockey Championships.
“We would like to recognize and express our appreciation to the EC Red Bull Salzburg organization for allowing Thomas and the Winnipeg Jets this opportunity,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said in a statement.
With the Jets, Raffl projects to play in the bottom-six forward group, where he can utilize his 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame in a checking-slash-energy role.
For now, though, he’ll start out with the club’s AHL affiliate in Manitoba.