Nonis 'should get medal' for making Clarkson disappear
David Clarkson of the Toronto Maple Leafs battles Shane O'Brien of Florida Panthers during NHL action at the Air Canada Centre on Tuesday February 17, 2015. (Craig Robertson/Toronto Sun/QMI Agency)
If not for the magic act pulled off by Maple Leafs general manager Dave Nonis — author of “How to make David Clarkson and his seemingly non-movable contract disappear — then Dale Tallon certainly would have been the architect of the most surprising transaction of the day.
Indeed, Nonis may have saved his job by finding a way to somehow erase from the books the seven-year, $36.75 million US contract Clarkson inked with the Maple Leafs in 2013.
“I’m still in shock,” one Eastern Conference executive told QMI Agency Thursday night. “Nonis should get a medal for pulling off the impossible.”
In shipping Clarkson to Columbus, the Leafs get injured forward Nathan Horton, who signed his own big deal during the same summer as Clarkson did, this one a seven-year, $37.1 million US pact.
Because Horton is out indefinitely with a back issue that might very well end his career, the Leafs can get much needed cap relief with him on long-term IR. The Leafs know his salary will not count against the cap as long as he is sidelined, even though they’ll be paying him.
On this day, Dave Nonis was a miracle worker.
And Panthers GM Dale Tallon wasn’t far behind.
Let’s be honest here. Jaromir Jagr was supposed to be a Chicago Blackhawk. Or a Boston Bruin (again). Or maybe even enjoying a return stint as a Washington Capital.
With available quality forwards a scarce commodity heading into Monday’s trade deadline, those were some of the most highly speculated landing spots for the veteran winger, whose days with the moribund New Jersey Devils were numbered.
But Jagr a Florida Panther?
Who saw that coming, other than Tallon?
Give Tallon credit for being proactive. In acquiring Jagr Thursday, Tallon didn’t have to give up a player off his roster, all the while sending the message to the hockey world that the Panthers are all-in in their attempts to hunt down the Boston Bruins for the final wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference. Florida entered play Thursday just two points behind Boston.
In the end, the Panthers gave up a second-round pick in 2015 and a Devils option of Florida’s third- or Minnesota’s third-rounder in 2016. In the process, Jagr now joins his eighth NHL team.
Earlier this week, Jagr told New Jersey reporters that his ice time, which has been going down of late, would continue to shrivel if he wasn’t dealt by the deadline.
“If I stay here and we’re not going to have a chance to playoffs, I don’t think I’m going to play at all,” he said at the time. “And I still like to play.”
He’ll get the chance to do exactly that in the Sunshine State.
Jagr, who has 29 points this season, has previously played for the Devils, Bruins, Caps, Stars, Rangers, Flyers and, of course, Penguins.
“We’re buyers, and we’re committed to winning,” Tallon told reporters in Florida Thursday evening. “That’s what (team owner Vinnie Viola) has said all along and what we’ve all said all along.
“We want to win. We want to win a championship. We’re putting the pieces together step by step. We’re hopeful that Jaromir can lead these young guys to the promised land.
“It’s a win-win for us.”
For the record, Jagr entered the NHL with the Pittsburgh Penguins on Oct. 5, 1990, three years and a day prior to the Panthers playing their inaugural NHL game. He has won the Cup more times than the Florida franchise (2-0) and has scored almost as many career post-season goals (78) as the entire Panthers team has (94).
In acquiring this future Hall of Famer, Dale Tallon caught the entire hockey world off-guard.
Until two hours later, that is, when Dave Nonis outdid him.
SOMETHING’S BREWIN’ IN BEANTOWN
Peter Chiarelli knows this much: His Bruins need a boost.
With forward David Krejci reportedly on long-term IR after suffering a partial tear of his left MCL last week, the Bruins have the option of taking on $5.25 million — his cap hit — in potential deals before the deadline.
On the other hand, if Krejci, who is projected to be out 4-6 weeks, comes back before the end of the regular season, the Bruins would have to be cap compliant.
For his part, Krejci told Boston reporters before Tuesday’s game against Vancouver that “I don’t want to sit out. I want to play, obviously. If there’s only a little chance I can play, I would like to play.
“The management has to do whatever they feel is right for the team to get our team into the playoffs. It’s not an easy decision for them, but (GM Chiarelli) been making good decisions since I’ve been here and I’m pretty sure he’s going to make the right one again.”
We do know this: the Bruins are actively seeking help up fromt. They’ve been linked with Buffalo’s Chris Stewart for months and have recently been doing in-depth research on Arizona’s Antoine Vermette.
Incoming CEO Charlie Jacobs has made it clear that missing the playoffs would be unacceptable. Couple that with the fact that team president Cam Neely feels the same way, and both Chiarelli and coach Claude Julien know the pressure is on.
Having said that, Julien is taking all the rumours swirling around him in stride.
“Trust me when I say that I’m here, I’m happy,’ Julien told reporters at the Bruins practice rink in Wilmington, Mass., Wednesday,
“I’m doing my job. I’m working with players and I have people around me I enjoy working with. When that doesn’t suffice anymore, we move on. That’s the life of a coach.”
The Bruins certainly will be one of the more interesting stories as the deadline approaches.
SEATTLE EYES ARENA AMENDMENT
Toronto mayor John Tory said Thursday he would love a second NHL team for the Greater Toronto Area, but the league’s immediate focus is on Las Vegas and Seattle.
While the experimental season ticket drive in Vegas already has netted over 7,000 commitments, Seattle mayor Ed Murray says he is willing to make an NHL-first deal for a proposed arena. Murray said he would go to the city council and ask for their deal with current arena rights holder Chris Hansen to be amended to allow construction for an NHL tenant first.
At this point, the funds will only be released for an NBA team.
While the league has not made any official statements, it has been obvious for a long time that Las Vegas and Seattle are the targets to potentially welcome NHL hockey before Quebec City or a second Toronto NHL team come into play.
With the Washington Capitals looking for a top-six forward, the Leafs’ Joffrey Lupul is a name that has come up, although his penchant for injuries must be a concern. Perhaps a name you should monitor instead: Erik Cole of the Dallas Stars. Boston also is a potential fit for Cole ... The Blackhawks are taking a long look at Calgary Flames forward Curtis Glencross ... Interested to see how Eric Lindros’s $250,000 defamation lawsuit against former referee Paul Stewart and the Huffington Post plays out. In a story Stewart penned for the Post, he alleged that after a game in which he and 19-year-old Lindros had some issues, the Big E supposedly refused to sign posters for charity afterward, tearing them up instead. Lindros disputes those allegations. According to the statement of claim: “The statement that Lindros refused to sign posters intended for a charity auction, and more shockingly, tore them up because they were solicited by Stewart is false and makes Lindros out to be unfriendly, hostile, rude, insulting, vindictive, cruel, uncharitable and generally a despicable person.” Stay tuned.