Tag: Nathan Horton

Boston Bruins v Vancouver Canucks - Game Five

Sweeney vows to return ‘aggressiveness’ to Bruins


Cam Neely spoke last month about the big, bad “identity” of the Boston Bruins, and how getting away from that identity had made them not as “tough to play against as we’d like to be.”

And so it was no surprise when new general manager Don Sweeney, flanked by Neely, spoke today about getting back to that identity, in hopes of returning to the playoffs and competing for a Stanley Cup.

“We’re not as far away as people may think,” Sweeney said. “We have to get back, a little bit, the aggressiveness that was lost in our group.”

Sweeney suggested that the Bruins, having won the Stanley Cup in 2011 and gone to the finals in 2013, had grown “stagnant” or overly “comfortable” with their mix.

Not anymore, he promised.

“There will be some changes going forward,” he said. “There will be personnel changes. There will be staff member changes.”

On that note, Sweeney did not commit to keeping head coach Claude Julien.

“I have some things that I want to sit down with Claude and go through in a very orderly fashion, as to where I think things need to change, and what direction we need to change as a group,” said Sweeney.

“So it’s just about lining up philosophical approaches that I believe in, that he believes in, and that we can move the group forward.”

Sweeney, the longtime Bruins defenseman who’s been in the front office since 2006, was asked about the importance of returning to the “style” that people have come to expect from the organization.

“I think it’s incredibly important,” he said. “It’s one thing to throw the words ‘culture’ and ‘identity’ around, it’s another to live it, breathe it, and teach it.”

Of course, it’s still another thing to assemble the players to be successful with that style.

Or any style, really.

Because the Bruins did not win the Stanley Cup in 2011 by aggression alone. To suggest they did would be to ignore the actual hockey-playing performances they received from the likes of Tim Thomas, Zdeno Chara, David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, Dennis Seidenberg, Johnny Boychuk, Nathan Horton, Mark Recchi, and the list goes on.

That team, big and bad as it was, had a lot more than toughness going for it. An elite goalie. An elite defenseman, still in his prime. An elite two-way center. A scoring center. Depth on defense. Four lines that all contributed. Energetic youngsters. Veteran leaders. And on top of all that, the Bruins stayed relatively healthy through 25 hard-fought playoff games.

The 2014-15 roster still had some of those things. But it did not have all of those things.

Conceded Sweeney: “I think it would’ve taken a lot of things to fall our way for us to be in a position to challenge this year.”

So…a lot of things on Sweeney’s plate.

That includes throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at tonight’s Boston Red Sox game.

Welcome to the spotlight.

Related: Bruins fire Chiarelli after missing playoffs

Nonis ‘disappointed’, but understands firing

Dave Nonis

Part of Dave Nonis felt he was meeting with President Brendan Shanahan to discuss the next phase of their rebuilding plan when the two met on April 12 – the day after the regular season ended.

Speaking for the first time since his firing, Nonis tells the Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons part of him also felt change was coming.

“He told me he was making a change,” Nonis said of the conversation with Shanahan. “I pretty much knew what he was thinking … I understand the reasons behind it. I’m not mad at Brendan. He’s still a friend of mine. But still, I was disappointed.

“There’s no hard feelings or ill will. I understand why he decided to make the change. I was hoping it wouldn’t happen. I thought we got along very well throughout the year. But I’ve been in the game a long time. I understand why you do this.”

Nonis along with interim head coach Peter Horachek and several scouts were let go at the conclusion of the Leafs’ season, which saw Toronto finish 30-44-8 – good for 27th overall.

“It’s a combination of everything,” said Nonis of the Leafs’ struggles. “I wish I could pinpoint all the reasons of what went wrong. I know people put the collapses together. But I don’t. The last three were different. There’s a lot of blame to go around. But I still don’t think this is a bottom-four roster. There are a lot of assets here. And with the draft picks we’ve accumulated, hopefully a lot of assets going forward.”

Under Nonis’ leadership the Leafs qualified for the playoffs in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season snapping a seven-year drought. It was Nonis’ first season as GM of the club and it earned him a five-year contract extension, which will earn him a reported $6 million over the next three years.

One of Nonis’ biggest failures in his tenure as Leafs’ GM was the signing of David Clarkson to a seven-year, $36.75 million contract. Nonis dealt Clarkson ahead of the March trade deadline to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Nathan Horton, who will likely never play again.

The 48-year-old confirmed he had deals in place for other Leafs’ veterans at the deadline as well.

“I could have traded Dion (Phaneuf) at the deadline,” said Nonis. “We had a deal, it wasn’t a great one, but it was a deal. I look at Phil and Dion and I still think they’re elite, upper-end players. They both could be traded, but it’s not like the Leafs are stuck with them if they’re back. I think they can come back and help them.”

When it comes to Phil Kessel, Nonis doesn’t believe moving the forward should be a top priority.

“I don’t think they have to move Phil Kessel,” said Nonis. “You only move him if you decide the return is worth it. If you don’t get value for him, you’re only hurting your team. I believe the baggage that comes with Phil is overblown. Are there things he has to change? Absolutely. But I can assure you of this: Whatever team wins the Stanley Cup this year will have a Phil Kessel in the lineup. I can guarantee that.

“Does he have things to work on? Yes. But he has something other players don’t have. He does have pride and he does want to win. He has to learn to focus some of those characteristics and do a better job. But he’s not a player they have to move.”

As for what’s next? Nonis doesn’t plan on sitting around and collecting his checks from the Leafs.

“I want to get back in the game as quickly as possible,” he said. “That’s the plan.”

Related: Shanahan promises more changes — ‘yesterday was just the beginning’

Leafs clean house, fire Nonis and Horachek


Just hours after wrapping up one of the worst seasons in franchise history, the Toronto Maple Leafs made sweeping changes.

On Sunday morning the Leafs announced that GM Dave Nonis has been relieved of his duties, along with interim head coach Peter Horachek. The news comes on the heels of a regular-season in which Toronto had already fired another head coach — Randy Carlyle, dismissed in early January — and absolutely flatlined down the stretch, winning just nine times over the final 44 games of the season.

Nonis was turfed after just two years on the job. He inherited the GM gig from Brian Burke prior to the lockout-shortened ’13 campaign; on his watch, the Leafs handed out long-term extensions to Phil Kessel, Dion Phaneuf, Joffrey Lupul, Tyler Bozak and David Clarkson — the latter of whom Nonis traded to Columbus for Nathan Horton (essentially Horton’s contract, given his significant back injury) at this year’s deadline.

Upon firing Nonis, the Leafs announced that assistant GM Kyle Dubas and director of player personnel Mark Hunter will share GM duties on an interim basis. Steve Staois, the club’s manager of player development, will also stay on board.

As for the coaching side of things, the Horachek regime — which lasted less than 50 games — will be remembered mostly for off-ice incidents, like the Nazem Kadri suspension and Kessel’s ongoing feud with the media. It’s worth noting that in addition to Horachek, the Leafs also fired assistant coaches Steve Spott and Chris Dennis, and goalie coach Rick St. Croix.

Following Saturday’s season finale, a teary Horachek met with the media and acknowledged his time in Toronto would soon be up, saying “it’s evident that there’s lots of change that has to happen.”

“There has to be a better-conditioned (group), a better attitude, a new approach to how we want to do things,” he explained. “Whatever the group is, this has to change. You have to have a respect Toronto deserves.

“If we continued right where we were in November we might not make the playoffs, we might be fighting for the playoffs. And if you’re in that situation, and we’re fighting for the playoffs or we make the playoffs, we weren’t going to win. Is that what we want? Do we want to be competitive or do we want to build something to win a Stanley Cup?”

As for team president Brendan Shanahan’s take on things, well, that will have to wait. Shanahan won’t meet with the media until Monday, and early reports suggest he won’t be the one to eventually assume GM duties.

The Horton treatment? Bruins may shop Savard’s contract this summer

Boston Bruins v Toronto Maple Leafs

When the Toronto Maple Leafs essentially acquired the right to put Nathan Horton’s cap hit on LTIR, a few people thought of other just-about-retired players who might get the same treatment. It sounds like the Boston Bruins may just pitch such an idea regarding Marc Savard’s deal.

HNIC’s Elliotte Friedman dropped that mention in passing toward the end of this Headlines segment.

For those wondering what a potential trade partner would get out of a potential trade, considering this:

Savard’s cap hit is a little more than $4 million in 2015-16 and 2016-17, yet that loophole-friendly deal only carries a $525K salary. That could be a great way for a low-budget team to get to the cap floor and could also give another franchise some extra space.

In case you’re wondering, Chris Pronger basically has the same situation going on, only his cap hit is about $4.9 million.

Winners and losers of the 2015 trade deadline

New York Rangers v Buffalo Sabres

The dust has settled on another trade deadline, so now it’s time for hasty judgments. Let’s name the winners and losers mere moments after everything happened, then. For all the moves, click here.


source: AP
Source: AP


Deride “tank jobs” if you must, but Buffalo Sabres GM Tim Murray (pictured) is doing a masterful job of amassing a staggering array of assets. It’s genuinely difficult to keep track of all the futures Buffalo now possesses, yet Evander Kane + Connor McDavid/Jack Eichel should make the Sabres fun to watch starting in 2015-16.

(Assuming Buffalo gets one of the top two picks, which is fairly safe.)


The Coyotes shifted into sellers far more abruptly than the Sabres, yet their takeaway has been resounding. They landed an enviable haul for Antoine Vermette and Keith Yandle while “gently nudging” their way to the cellar by moving Devan Dubnyk before he won them too many games.


One of the biggest winners among the “buyers,” the Ducks reunited with James Wisniewski (pictured) while bolstering an already-young defense with an interesting piece in Simon Despres. They didn’t pay that big for a guy who may or may not help them in Tomas Fleischmann, who likely will get the benefit of the doubt from Bruce Boudreau thanks to their Washington days.

source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images


A reasonably healthy Kimmo Timonen could be a game-changer. Antoine Vermette may be the second-line center they were looking for. The big prices they paid might put them in the “losers” category in hindsight, however.


A nice job of “reloading” if not fully rebuilding.

The Leopolds

Jordyn Leopold’s adorable letter went viral and Jordan Leopold gets a chance to maybe make an impact with a playoff team in the Minnesota Wild.

Sven Baertschi

He clearly saw his stock plummet with the Calgary Flames, but now he gets a new lease on life with the Vancouver Canucks. Perhaps he’ll get up a little bit more for each rivalry game, too?

Teams that tweaked like Montreal, Detroit

The Canadiens grabbed some depth and also an interesting defenseman in Jeff Petry. The Red Wings get an aging but skilled puck mover in Marek Zidlicky and a top-six forward in Erik Cole. Maybe they didn’t knock their moves out of the park, but good teams like these (and maybe the St. Louis Blues?) are better equipped for the postseason without blowing up their futures.

Olli Jokinen

He went from barely playing for the Nashville Predators to complaining about being a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs to getting a chance at his first-ever deep playoff run with the St. Louis Blues.

Relocated Sabres

Chris Stewart gets a chance to inflate his value as a free agent if he can score big goals for the Wild. Torrey Mitchell could barely contain his excitement about going home to Montreal. Michal Neuvirth is a Jaroslav Halak injury away from an interesting opportunity …

Everyone involved with David Clarkson

Via Smashfest.ca

Sure, he was traded for the essentially retired Nathan Horton, but David Clarkson gets a desperately needed clean slate. Toronto gets crucial cap space and Columbus isn’t wasting its budget on a guy who cannot play. Everyone wins?

Days before the deadline

It’s becoming a trend that the days before the deadline contain the biggest deals. When you expand the scope to the likes of Evander Kane and Keith Yandle, all of a sudden the trade deadline has some solid star power.


Deadline day itself

That said, if you took a day off to follow the proceedings on March 2 … you only have yourself to blame.


Did they know that the deadline was today? (Cue bad term paper memories.) San Jose was pretty quiet, too.


The Bruins didn’t get help on defense and it remains to be seen if Brett Connolly and Max Talbot can give Boston much of a boost on the wings.


Pretty quiet deadline for a team in perpetual rebuild mode.


OK, Keith Yandle definitely makes them an interesting team in 2014-15 (and isn’t a full-on rental) … but at some point you need to keep some first-round picks, right? GM Glen Sather isn’t being shy about going “all-in,” and we might look back at this and wonder what he was thinking.

(They’ll be a lot of fun in the short term, though.)


Penguins fans aren’t exactly thrilled about the return of Ben Lovejoy, at least for the price of a former first-rounder. Then again, if you count the David Perron trade, they’re among the bigger winners.

Chad Johnson

He was already struggling as a backup with the Islanders, now he’s going to get shelled in Buffalo, which could be a painful trial-by-fire. Not ideal for a guy who’s still trying to prove himself and stop people from making jokes about faded former NFL receivers.

Eric Brewer

Health hasn’t been on his side, and now he’s gone from being on a contender to playing out the string in Toronto.


Who else would make your lists? Share your picks in the comments.