Monday, November 24, 2008

Nonis Operandi

Upon hearing the news that Roberto Luongo may not see action again until January, Canucks fans will begin to see if GM Mike Gillis really made any headway since taking over, or if his team's surprising jump out of the gate was merely a byproduct of stellar goaltending. Something Dave Nonis didn't see enough of last season.

Considering the unorthodox events that lead to the eventual changing of the guard in Vancouver, it is near impossible to not compare the new GM to the guy he replaced. And having apparently pulled the rug out from under a guy that had one bad season (which may have had to do with man-games lost, more than anything else), it almost seemed unfair to hand him a pink slip without allowing him to take his stud netminder with him. But now with arguably the best goaltender in the League on the shelf for what seems to be the next 5 or 6 weeks, we have a cross-section that could prove very telling for this franchise. If hiring Gillis and firing Nonis was truly beneficial to this club, we should have a clear indication of that within the next few weeks.

Speaking of Dave Nonis, I learned of a very interesting theory today involving the Brian Burke/MLSE soap opera. What was once thought to be a slam-dunk merger between the two long before Burke ever officially cut ties with the Anaheim franchise, sources around the League are beginning to question what might be taking so long. Reports this morning had Burke coming to the Toronto area for some personal business, only to be told later that he never boarded the plan due to a furnace malfunction back at his home. But curiously missing from these reported chronological events of the Burke household, is an official meeting with Leafs headhunter Gordon Kirke and team President Richard Peddie. When the subject has arisen, one word continues to pop up describing these non-negotiations. "Complicated".

Apparently the stumbling block standing in the way of getting this deal done immediately, may not have anything to do with money or term, and only remotely to do with autonomy. From what I am hearing, one of Burke's first terms as expressed through his lawyer over the phone, was that David Nonis would follow him and take an Assistant GM's role with the team. Having spoken to Nonis in two separate interviews back in the summer, Peddie and company seem to prefer the idea of pushing Nieuwendyk for the right-hand-man role on the team. A position he currently holds alongside interim General Manager Cliff Fletcher.

Details are obviously sketchy at the moment, but it is almost as if Burke had given Nonis a promise prior to his hiring in Anaheim, which parlayed into his out-clause with the team. While the Leafs also seemingly gave Nieuwendyk their word and a reason to believe that his place was to be the next-in-line guy. Ironically, Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment made their deal with Nieuwendyk almost immediately after they were given permission to speak with him, following the draft. So you would have to think that if Burke was their guy all along, they would be just as eager to shore up the loose ends now that they cannot be accused of tampering.

One thing is for sure... a relationship with Brian Burke is a lot like Roberto Luongo's groin.

Week to week.

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