|The Maple Leafs are hoping Joffrey Lupul will inject a little energy into the team. (David Bloom/QMI Agency)
TORONTO - One of the first questions forward Joffrey Lupul had for his former and now new boss on Wednesday was what had changed his mind about him.
Lupul had played for Leafs general manager Brian Burke in Anaheim and was dealt to the Edmonton Oilers in 2006-07. So if he was expendable as a Duck, what made him so much in demand in Toronto?
“The first demand from Edmonton was Lupul had to be in the deal,” Burke said Wednesday after acquiring Lupul in a deal that sent defenceman Francois Beauchemin to Anaheim. “People asked me why I traded him if I liked him so much.
“We traded him to get Chris Pronger. Obviously that strategy paid off — we got a parade.”
Burke said he also tried to get Lupul when he was with the Flyers and finally had some success after prolonged negotiations with Anaheim counterpart Bob Murray.
Both GMs liked the idea of making a trade prior to whatever flurry of activity expected to take place at the league deadline on Feb. 28. Burke believes there is more value and less panic if a trade can be made earlier.
“In my history, I’ve always tried to beat the trade deadline,” said Burke, who stressed that he plans to be active between now and then. “When you get to the trade deadline, it’s like a stampede. There’s lots of confusion and I think it’s much more difficult to act with clarity and purpose at the deadline.
“It’s almost like a party with a pinata, everyone is going for one player everyone is swinging at it, it’s hard to focus.”
Meanwhile, Beauchemin wasn’t shocked at being traded back to Anaheim.
With a limited no-trade clause in his contract, the veteran defenceman and Leafs’ alternate captain had to provide Burke with a list of 12 possible trade destinations last summer. Obviously Anaheim, where he was part of the 2007 Stanley Cup winning team, was on that list.
Beauchemin said he never asked for a trade
“I loved it here, it’s a great city to play in,” Beauchemin said after saying so long to his teammates and then packing to join his new team out in Vancuover. “We’re out of a playoff spot and that’s not where you want to be at this time of year. I really wish we could have done that while I was here.
“I was kind of expecting something to happen with all the rumours out there but you hope nothing is going to happen.”
Did he say playoffs?
Burke is wise enough to neither predict a playoff spot nor declare his team out of it at this point. Instead, when asked what affect Wednesday’s trade would have on his team’s immediate post-season chances, the GM had this to offer:
“If we keep playing the way we’ve been playing the last four or five games, they yes we can make the playoffs,” Burke said. “People are going to ask if this is a concession on a playoff spot. It’s not that at all. I’m not running this team on the basis of whether it will or won’t (make the playoffs this spring). I’m running it on the blueprint of how we add assets that will lead to a championship.”