Phaneuf: trade talk ‘takes a toll on your room’


The Toronto Maple Leafs have already made one significant trade, sending Cody Franson and Mike Santorelli to Nashville last week.

Whether they make more deals prior to the March 2 deadline is the main topic of conversation these days in Toronto, where any hope of making the playoffs has been extinguished amid reports the Leafs could be on the verge of a full roster makeover.

“It wears on you,” Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf said, per the Toronto Sun. “It has not been a good month-and-a-half for us. We know where we’re at.

“We’ll be asked lots of questions and there will be lots of rumors. That’s not easy to deal with. You can feel it in the dressing room. You’re talking about guys’ lives, their jobs and careers. It definitely takes a toll on your room.”

About the only Leaf that seems untouchable at this point is defenseman Morgan Rielly. Maybe James van Riemsdyk, too.

The others — including Phaneuf, Phil Kessel, Joffrey Lupul, Tyler Bozak — could all be dealt, either at the deadline or this summer.

The future is also uncertain for a couple of pending restricted free agents, Nazem Kadri and Jonathan Bernier.

“I love living here and love being a Leaf, but if I’m not in the plans, I’m not in the plans,” said Lupul.

What those plans actually are could become more apparent in the next week.

Related: Lupul loathes idea of Toronto tear-down

Leafs lose to Devils in shootout, drop seventh straight


The Toronto Maple Leafs had the lead. Victory was in their grasp. But a victory eluded them once again, and that’s now seven straight losses.

On Wednesday, the Leafs lost by a final score of 2-1 in the shootout to the New Jersey Devils, despite a go-ahead goal from James van Riemsdyk with just over eight minutes remaining in regulation. The lead didn’t last six minutes, as the Devils tied it up on a goal from Adam Larsson to send the game into overtime.

Cory Schneider made 29 saves for the victory. He also didn’t allow a goal in the shootout.

For the Leafs, they do move one point ahead of the Ottawa Senators into sixth in the Atlantic Division thanks to the single point. But the losing continues. They held the edge in shots against the Devils on Wednesday, and the edge in shot attempts, according to

Leafs’ Horachek: ‘I scratch my head when I talk about that first period’


Mike Hoffman, Erik Karlsson and Mika Zibanejad scored first period goals for Ottawa, who out-shot the Toronto Maple Leafs 12-9 in the opening frame

Karlsson added his second of the night in the third period, the eventual game-winner, as the Senators handed the Leafs their sixth straight regulation loss.

The Leafs have scored just five goals in the six games.

“I scratch my head when I talk about that first period. That was totally done by ourselves, to ourselves, to a team that played last night,” said Leafs interim head coach, Peter Horachek. “It’s a strange situation. We’ve got to correct that for sure.”

Craig Anderson made 37 saves improving to 13-11-7 on the season.

David Clarkson snapped a 14-game drought scoring his first goal since Dec. 20 in the loss.

Nazem Kadri, who has reportedly begun contract talks with the Leafs, netted his 13th of the season while James van Riemsdyk had the other goal for Toronto.

James Reimer saw his record drop to 6-9-0 with a 22 save performance.

“We didn’t have a good start,” said Reimer. “Obviously you can’t get down 3-0 and expect to win in this league.”

Report: World Cup to be announced during all star break


According to TSN’s Rick Westhead the NHL and NHLPA will announce the return of the world cup of hockey during the NHL all star break, which takes place Jan. 22-26.

Westhead added one of the tweaks to the tournament will include a best-of-three final.

In November Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reported potential changes to the format.

Rumored changes to the tournament include two all star teams in addition to the top six hockey nations (Canada, U.S., Sweden, Finland, Russia and Czech Republic).

One all star squad will be made up of the best players from Slovakia, Switzerland, Latvia, Germany and Slovenia, among others.

The make-up of the second all star team is yet to be determined.

Last month IIHF president Rene Fasel weighed in on the proposed changes.

“To be very honest, I like the idea. If we go with No. 7 and 8 with normal matching teams, we have that in the Olympics, we have that in the Canada Cup, we have that in the World Championships. Now having this selection. There’s a discussion about having European selection, it would be a great team with non-participating European teams building up a team,” said Fasel. “Then the second one is North American selection. That can be a very interesting for the hockey fans, great. That could be something. It is still an idea. There’s a rumor. We don’t know yet what they’re going to do. Personally, I like it very much.”

Fasel may like it, but players we here at PHT talked to were skeptical.

“It would be hard to play for some kind of different team, but I guess at the same time, a lot of the small countries, they’re producing really good players,” said Olli Jokinen, who’s represented Finland internationally on a number of occasions. “Players like that, a lot of time they don’t get a chance to play tournaments like that.”

Added U.S. Olympian, and Toronto Maple Leafs forward, James van Riemsdyk: “There’s more pride it in, for the players, when you’re representing your country. I think it’s fun when you have the different countries like you have every year in one of these tournaments there’s a big upset and that’s what makes it fun.

“I think it’s more fun when you have the countries (competing).”

Toronto is expected to be one the venues for the 2016 tournament.

‘I feel like there’s definite buy-in,’ says Horachek after Leafs thump Blue Jackets


It took all of three minutes and 15 seconds for the Columbus Blue Jackets to take the lead on the Toronto Maple Leafs. Was it an ominous sign for a Toronto team enduring its share of tumultuous times in recent days and weeks?

Turns out, it wasn’t.

The Leafs came alive. They took over.

Toronto scored four times in the first period, taking a 4-1 lead over the Blue Jackets, before skating to a 5-2 victory on Friday. It’s also a win for Peter Horachek, who took over the coaching duties from the fired Randy Carlyle.

“I feel like there’s definite buy-in and a positive attitude,” said Horachek, as per the club’s Twitter account.

Phil Kessel, who had been at the center of controversy since the firing of Carlyle, had a goal, an assist and seven shots on net. James van Riemsdyk had two goals and an assist. And Tyler Bozak had a goal and an assist.

Puck possession has been an ongoing issue with the Leafs under Carlyle. On Friday, the Leafs held a distinct advantage in that aspect, according to the numbers at

Earlier in the day, team president Brendan Shanahan held a chat with his players, adding he hasn’t seen enough consistency from the core group of players.

For one game, anyway, it appears they got the message.

“Enough said about system, I think they just wanted us to come out here and put the effort in,” said goalie Jonathan Bernier, as per Jonas Siegel of TSN 1050.

Now, scary moment in this game. Referee Dean Morton left the game after he was tripped up and sent hard to the ice. He did not return.