Maple Leafs muscle up

MIKE ZEISBERGER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:01 AM ET

The Bay St. Bullies.

Burkie's Bashers.

Team Truculence.

Whatever nickname you might choose to slap on the Maple Leafs after the opening of free agency yesterday, it comes as music to Brian Burke's ears.

Having travelled to Sweden, in part in an attempt to woo Daniel and Henrik Sedin to Toronto, Burke arrived in Scandinavia to discover the twins had re-signed with the Vancouver Canucks.

The ornery Irishman also found out that another Swede he was interested in, veteran blue liner Matthias Ohlund, had inked a seven-year deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Yet despite the setbacks, Burke stayed the course.

He vowed to make the Leafs tougher. And that's exactly what he did in acquiring three veteran NHLers in defencemen Mike Komisarek, Garnet Exelby and forward Colton Orr.

Add up their career stats and Burke's mandate is clear.

Combined goals: 22. Combined penalty minutes: 1,556.

Where's the beef? Just check the roster.

"We felt we needed more size, grit and toughness," assistant general manager Dave Nonis said. "We're pretty happy."

Komisarek, the former Montreal Canadien, is the blue chipper of the bunch. As the Habs leader in hits and blocked shots a year ago, he will make the Leafs a tougher team to play against.

"Would like to thank the Montreal Canadiens organization and the Toronto Maple Leafs for a new start! Merci!" Komisarek, 27, said via his Twitter account.

Komisarek's phone started ringing the moment free agency kicked off at noon.

"We talked to a number of teams and we whittled it down to the market place that made the most sense," Matt Keator, Komisarek's agent, explained. "To go to an Original Six team, in a city that has so much passion, was attractive."

So, too, was the fact that Komisarek has dealt with Burke, the GM of Team USA, as the 2010 Vancouver games approach.

"He knew Brian Burke from the Olympic process," Keator said. "He knows what direction Burke wants to (take the Leafs in)."

Komisarek inked a five-year deal worth $22.5 million US, one that reportedly includes a partial no-movement clause in which he will be asked each September to submit a list of 12 teams to which he might be willing to be traded.

The Leafs opened room for Komisarek on the blue line by dealing veteran Pavel Kubina to Atlanta along with the rights to Tim Stapleton for Exelby and minor-leaguer Colin Stuart. Both Nonis and Thrashers general manager Don Waddell confirmed the Leafs have been attempting to land Exelby since last season.

As for Orr, he is one of the NHL's toughest enforcers. During his first hockey fight, his poor victim left the arena with a broken nose and a number of stitches.

"I can't remember his name," said Orr, 27, who signed a four-year, $4-million deal with Toronto. "I just remember I was about 15 years old and it was a game in Brandon (Man.).

"I think I did pretty good."

Orr has done "pretty good" in most of his scraps, notably the 63 he has taken part in at the NHL level, according to hockeyfights.com.

"To be a Leaf is like a dream come true," said Orr, a native of Winnipeg. "To play in Canada and be a Maple Leaf, well, it hasn't sunk in yet."


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