With the Kings on the verge of their first Stanley Cup win, TSN Hockey Insiders Bob McKenzie, Darren Dreger and Pierre LeBrun gathered in Los Angeles for the latest installment of Insider Trading. Among the topics discussed was the Montreal Canadiens coaching hire of Michel Therrien, the rumours surrounding Brian Burke's future in Toronto and the latest on the trade market for Roberto Luongo.
Marc Bergevin's Decision of Therrien Over Marc Crawford?
LeBrun: It was incredibly close. I was told it was an agonizing choice for Marc Bergevin in his first major decision. He went back and forth, he thought both were great candidates. In the end, by a hair it was Michel Therrien and the difference, I believe, was the fact that he had coached before in Montreal, in that frying pan, that was the difference.
Negative Reaction to the Therrien Hiring?
Dreger: The player network is very tight, so you're definitely going to have that feedback. I'm sure Montreal Canadiens' players now are reaching out to players that have played under Michel Therrien to get a firm grasp as to the type of coach he is. Here's what we know about Michel Therrien historically: Similar in style to Bob Hartley, so the belief is that if you're a top-end player -- a top-end forward or a top-four defenceman -- you're going to be alright. If you're a younger player or a middle-of-the-road player, he's coming down hard. So, there will be a lot of digging from within the dressing room of the Montreal Canadiens to find out what makes him tick.
Therrien's Coaching Staff Options
McKenzie: Next immediate task for Michel Therrien is to construct his staff, which means bringing in his assistant coaches. One name to keep an eye on is Martin Lapointe, the former National Hockey League player who played junior hockey for Michel Therrien. He currently lives in Chicago and he's got family there. He has to decide whether he wants to be an assistant coach on the staff of Michel Therrien with the Montreal Canadiens. This means either move his family to Montreal or make a decision to commute and leave his family back in Chicago or perhaps take on a director of player development role under Marc Bergevin. In any case, look for Marty Lapointe to be a member of the Montreal Canadiens in one fashion or another.
Rumours on the Future of Brian Burke in Toronto:
McKenzie: There are two things happening right now in terms of the rumour front with Brian Burke in Toronto. No. 1 is the most popular rumour, which is that he is going to step down after the draft – take a leave of absence. That's 100 per cent inaccurate. There's not a chance in the world that Brian Burke is walking away from the Toronto Maple Leafs. The other rumour out there is that Brian Burke is going to be fired and that this could happen within the next 48 hours or if not, it could happen right after the draft. I can also tell you that based on conversations I've had with high-ranking officials of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment that there's absolutely no truth to that whatsoever. There are no immediate plans to make a management change. They decided at the end of the season that they were sticking with Burke for next year and right now, that is the plan. Keep in mind too that the Toronto Maple Leafs are going through an ownership change. Nothing is going to be handed over to the Bell/Rogers Consortium until later in the summer. If the current group at Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment want to make a general manager change, they're going to need approval for that. And with a lockout potentially on the horizon, there are no plans at all from Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, at this time, to make a management change.
Latest on Luongo:
LeBrun: The Canucks and Luongo, from what we've been told, have been supposed to get together again. It hasn't happened yet, the Canucks are hopeful that they'll be able to talk to Luongo by the end of the week. In the meantime, teams are starting to do their due diligence, and I believe the Florida Panthers are a team to keep an eye on. I think they are very interested in Roberto Luongo, but they're a small payroll team, and it's only going to happen if they can send some money the other way. The Vancouver Canucks are not too interested in a trade like that right now. That type of "soft deal" is not the type of deal the Canucks want to make at this point.
Dreger: The problem is that there is a sense of uncertainty around the National Hockey League. And Florida fits into that group, so does the Toronto Maple Leafs, as teams with interest in Roberto Luongo. But while there might be a feeling from Roberto Luongo that he's done in Vancouver, that message has not yet been delivered to the teams interested in him inside the National Hockey League. So Luongo and Mike Gillis, management of the Vancouver Canucks, have got to get on the same page and deliver that message – might be a little early going into the NHL draft where things will heat up, but teams on the outside of Vancouver are wondering whether or not that's the real deal.
McKenzie: Teams that have interest in Roberto Luongo are wondering how long is he going to play, how long is the commitment that you're actually making? He's got 10 years left on his contract, but if you look at the way the contract's structured, he's not going to play more than seven – the last three years are those bogus years for just over a shade over $1 million and he's definitely not playing those. So the maximum commitment is seven years, maybe six. There are some people out there who believe though, that Roberto Luongo is only prepared to play another four or five years in the National Hockey League. And if Roberto Luongo decided to retire at any time, the cap hit goes away and nobody's obliged to take on the commitment of the contract any longer than he is interested in playing. The tricky part though is, Roberto Luongo cannot come to a pre-agreement with any team that is interested in him, saying "oh, I'll only play four years, then I'll let you off the hook," because that would be cap circumvention. There is talk out there that Luongo doesn't want to play any more than four or five years more years, but I think the teams would have to take it on faith or face value.
Last Shots on Ryan Suter and Coaching Vacancies:
LeBrun: Ryan Suter, obviously a big name possibly headed to free agency. His representatives had a meeting last week with Nashville. I believe that Suter is likely headed to July 1, while keeping the Predators in mind, circling back to Nashville like Kovalchuk did with New Jersey two years ago. But I do think he is going to July 1.
Dreger: We can finish where we started -- with coaching. We're focused on what's going on in the National Hockey League, but there are opportunities internationally speaking. Paul Maurice is still considering an option from the Kontinental Hockey League. And from the Swiss League now with Bob Hartley moving over to the Calgary Flames, that creates an opportunity in Zurich.