MONTREAL — As the Bell Centre was invigorated by a Montreal Canadiens’ trade Thursday afternoon, the Maple Leafs are still considering one more move prior to Monday’s NHL deadline.
Having lost front-line defencemen Tomas Kaberle and Francois Beauchemin in earlier deals, there have been reports of up to five teams that Toronto general manager Brian Burke is speaking with, including Colorado for 40-point rearguard John-Michael Liles, long rumoured to be on Toronto’s radar.
For now, Burke is not close to completing anything, but Toronto has three games remaining including Thursday before the swap shop closes at 3 p.m. on Monday. Coach Ron Wilson says he’s grateful the Leafs aren’t in action that day, but adds the club has been dealing with the annual deadline distraction as best it can.
“I don’t think it’s bothering us,” Wilson said. “If it was, why are we 7-2-2 (after
Feb. 1) since all this stuff has been written?”
The Canadiens acquired stay-at-home defenceman Brent Sopel and minor league forward Nigel Dawes from the Atlanta Thrashers for centre Ben Maxwell and a fourth-round pick.
No Dijon for Dion
More than once in his visits to play in Montreal, Dion Phaneuf has been eagerly approached by the francophone media for interviews.
They look at his name and figure he’s fluently bilingual, but always end up dragging their mike cords away in disappointment.
“My name has French in it, but I don’t speak it,” the Toronto captain said. “By now, they’ve stopped asking.”
The Edmonton-born Phaneuf said that his Alberta roots go back at least one or two generations, although he says: “Prince Edward Island is where (the first Phaneufs) were born.”
The name Dion does have a French Canadian link, in honour of one-time Quebec junior star and hall of famer Marcel Dionne.
“My Mom liked the sound of it,” Phaneuf said, though a few people who remember Dion and the Belmonts think he’s named for the American singer.
Reimer’s time is here
There was plenty of curiosity in Montreal about new Leafs’ goalie James Reimer. Toronto has played Jean-Sebastien Giguere and Jonas Gustavsson in recent games at the Bell Centre.
“Look around this league. a No. 1 goalie goes down and all of a sudden a team can’t win,” Wilson said. “Look at Anaheim where Jonas Hiller is out, they make a trade (for Dan Ellis). They don’t get the goaltending, they can’t win. We’re getting that kind of goaltending now and we’re suddenly winning. This league is mostly about goaltending and it just shows when you get solid performances in the back end how things can turn around in a hurry.”
Nice line by centre Tim Brent when reminded how few times the Leafs threatened Price in a 3-0 loss at the Bell Centre 12 days ago: “My grandmother could’ve played net and we would have lost.” ... Prior to Thursday’s game, the Canadiens had shut out the Leafs 56 times, the most of any of Montreal’s Original Six opponents ... The Leafs are the NHL’s third-youngest team at 26.3 years. The greenest four, St. Louis, Colorado, Toronto and Edmonton, are all out of the playoff picture at present, while fifth-place Carolina (26.6) is clinging to eighth spot in the East.