On The Nhl — Leave it to Brian Burke to break open a trade market that had been stuck because it's so difficult to move huge contracts and because many general managers can't decide whether to buy or sell while their clubs are still in playoff contention.
Burke, the Toronto Maple Leafs' GM, on Sunday ripped apart a roster that badly needed ripping. His acquisitions of defenseman Dion Phaneuf from Calgary and goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere from the Ducks fall into the category of reclamation projects, and those are always risky.
Instead of rebuilding slowly around kids -- a strategy he has never had the patience to follow -- Burke took on two established players who have slipped from their peak and is hoping they will revive in a new environment.
In his first deal, he sent unhappy Jamal Mayers, decent defenseman Ian White and useful forwards Niklas Hagman and Matt Stajan to Calgary for Phaneuf, winger Fredrik Sjostrom and defense prospect Keith Aulie, weakening an already feeble offense while adding muscle to a defense that has been disappointing despite the off-season additions of Mike Komisarek and Francois Beauchemin.
Phaneuf is the centerpiece of the trade, a physical defenseman who could be considered a younger Chris Pronger, right down to some of the boneheaded decisions.
Burke told reporters in Toronto on Sunday that Phaneuf "is a warrior. He's got a cannon for a shot. He plays the game hard and I want players who play the game hard because they're hard to play against."
The problem is that it's often hard to figure out Phaneuf. The 24-year-old was a consensus pick for the Canadian Olympic team but played his way off the roster with inconsistent efforts. He's due to earn $25.5 million the next four seasons, too high a price tag for his erratic play.
Completing a long-rumored deal, Burke also sent washed-up goalie Vesa Toskala and scrappy winger Jason Blake to the Ducks for Giguere, 32.
The Maple Leafs' goalies compiled a league-worst 3.44 team goals-against average and .884 save percentage, and even as badly as Giguere has struggled the last season and a half he should be an improvement, carrying a 3.14 goals-against average and .900 save percentage. Burke is hoping that Giguere, who is scheduled to start against the Devils on Tuesday in Toronto, will benefit from being reunited with goaltending coach Francois Allaire, his longtime friend and goalie guru in Anaheim.
Another widely rumored trade that appeared to stall went through Monday night. The Flames, who had Stanley Cup hopes but have fallen out of a playoff spot, traded center Olli Jokinen to the New York Rangers with Brandon Proust for forwards Ales Kotalik and Chris Higgins.
Now that Burke has made the first move, look for other general managers to follow. And Atlanta General Manager Don Waddell was watching the Kings' game at New Jersey on Sunday, so something could break soon on the Ilya Kovalchuk front.
Ultimate road trip
The Vancouver Olympics don't start until Feb. 12, but the Canucks have been kicked out of GM Place -- which will be renamed Canada Hockey Place -- to prepare the arena for the Games.
The Canucks will go 44 days between home games, including the Olympic break. Their 14-game trip is the longest in NHL history: the Flames left town for the 1988 Winter Games but were away for only 11 straight games.
The Canucks will play eight games in the first 18 days and six games in nine days after the Games end Feb. 28.
According to the Canucks' website, they will travel 12,861 miles, or the equivalent of 1,574,803 Oreo cookies laid out one after another. Their trip would cost $26,958 Canadian by taxi, plus tip.
They will go from cold to hot and back to cold and will hit Columbus twice, a challenge to even the most experienced travelers.
"I don't know about this one, this is a tough one, we're going through all sorts of climates, so snow coats, sandals, flip-flops, shorts, bathing suits, all kinds of stuff," goaltender Roberto Luongo told reporters who asked about what he would pack.
Paul Martin's withdrawal from the U.S. Olympic team Monday was no surprise because his broken arm is slow to heal. Komisarek might have to pull out too, because his injured shoulder hasn't responded to rehabilitation and might need surgery. Possible replacements include Rob Scuderi of the Kings and Ryan Whitney of the Ducks, though the Ducks' James Wisniewski would be an intriguing addition because of his physicality and slap shot from the point. . . .
So much for the Oilers' hopes of starting their overhaul by trading defenseman Sheldon Souray. He broke his wrist Saturday in a fight with Calgary's Jarome Iginla and is likely to be out a while, though the extent of the damage wasn't immediately clear.
How they rate Find out how the Kings, Ducks and other teams fare in Helene Elliott's NHL rankings.