March 3, 2011
Think Leafs GM has it tough?
By MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency
For all the criticism Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke has received over the past two years for surrendering two first-rounders and a second-round pick in the controversial Phil Kessel deal with the Boston Bruins, that pales in comparison to the bold moves made by Flyers counterpart Paul Holmgren involving top-end selections.
Indeed, Holmgren has dealt away the Flyers’ first-round picks in 2009, 2010 and 2011 in order to bring in players he really wanted — namely, defenceman Chris Pronger and forward Kris Versteeg.
For Flyers coach Peter Laviolette, it shows just how committed the organization is to winning.
In his most recent deal, Holmgren surrendered his 2011 first-rounder and third-rounder to the Leafs for Versteeg.
“I think it makes a statement,” Laviolette said.
“It wasn’t the type of trade where it’s a first-round pick and the player is going to be gone. We got ourselves a good young player that fits into the age of the Richards, the Carters, the Girouxs, the Van Riemsdyks, the Carles.
“We have a lot of good young players on our team. Good balance, good mix. It makes a statement that we’re trying to do some things here.”
Laviolette has enjoyed the addition of Versteeg and feels he will play a significant role for the Flyers moving forward.
“I think his last game in Ottawa he had nine attempts at the net and five shots,” Laviolette said. “He’s had lots of opportunities, lots of looks.
“It’s just a matter of getting to know his teammates, getting to know me, getting to know the system. It’s hard to get traded in the middle of the season, especially on this team. There is a feeling-out process.”
UNDER THE WEATHER
Just call them The Flu Crew.
Forwards Jeff Carter, Darroll Powe and Daniel Carcillo were all felled by the illness, which apparently has been running through the entire Flyers dressing room. In fact, Holmgren also was under the weather and reportedly was not on hand for the game at the Wells Fargo Center.
In his first couple of seasons in the NHL, March meant playing out the string for young defenceman Luke Schenn.
Not this year.
And he’s loving it.
“It’s way different,” Schenn admitted on Thursday. “It’s definitely a nice feeling to have.”
A different feeling, too.
“Before, in my two previous years here, you’re playing for personal pride and a spoiler role, which isn’t really all that fun this time of year,” he said. “It’s been a lot more fun and exciting being in a race and competing for spots.
“The last 25-30 games have been like playoffs for us and now it’s been even more desperation.”
Count on it continuing to be that way down the stretch.